A founder's number 1 weapon

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Happy Monday and welcome to Through the Noise!

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DALL·E prompt: "a sketch of a tech ceo in a t-shirt focusing on a complex task"

Neuroplasticity is the ability for your brain to change in response to experience. From the ages of 0 to 25, our nervous system changes very easily. If you're exposed to something, it'll change your brain. But if you're older than 25, things are a little different.

To create change in your brain after 25, it has to be self-directed. Let's take an example of wanting to become the best baseball player in the world.

  • Child: You can make them the best baseball player in the world

  • Adult: You can’t make them the best baseball player in the world unless they want to be the best baseball player in the world

The big difference here is as an adult, it takes intense focus to create change. You have to concentrate exactly on what it is you want to make better. You have to 'dig in' and put in the work.

As a founder, your focus:

  • Allows you to prioritise the most important tasks and avoid getting sidetracked by less important ones.

  • Helps you communicate your vision and goals to investors, partners, and team members, which is crucial for securing funding and building a strong team.

  • Enables you to avoid getting overwhelmed by the many demands of starting and running your company.

The best way to achieve focus? Find your tunnel. This is a fascinating concept I discovered yesterday when listening to Rob Dial's podcast with Andrew Huberman.

The central motivation behind your tunnel is the idea that your visual system is the dominant driver in mental focus. It's important to remove anything that can fragment this. It could be going from 3 monitors to 1. No longer having email open on the left, your Twitter feed open on the right and the task you're 'supposed' to be doing in front of you (this was me 2 months ago). Less is more.

Now you have the demands of people, 100+ emails in your inbox and the anxiety of what you're going to do weighing on your shoulders. Yet all you have to do is just find your way into that tunnel and you won't look back.

Successful founders have an incredible power to focus on demand. We often seek optimal: eliminating all background noise, avoiding all interruptions, removing all visual stimulus. The truth is, life often doesn't work like that. If you find comfort in 'optimal' for too long, the moment you sense you're 5% off, you dissolve into a puddle of tears.

Sometimes, it's good to train physical and emotional endeavours in sub-optimal conditions. E.g., going for a run at 4:30am vs 10:00am. This trains your nervous system to be responsive at any time. Don’t become so attached to a regiment that you can’t perform outside of that regiment. Instead, be primed for operating under optimal and suboptimal conditions. That's where the magic happens.

So what's the takeaway from all of this?

  • Cement practices for entering your tunnel of focus (a breathing exercise or a visual note can help)

  • Be able to drop into your tunnel of focus amid chaos by practicing in sub-optimal conditions

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That’s all for today friends!

As always feel free to reply to this email or reach out @thealexbanks as I’d love to hear your feedback.

Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next Monday.


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