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The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights by Daniel Goleman

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Optimal Performance

The relationship between stress and performance has been known for about a century in psychology. It’s called the Yerkes-Dodson Law. While the psychologists Yerkes and Dodson could not have known it 100 years ago, they were actually tracking the impacts of the HPA axis, the circuitry that secretes stress hormones when the amygdala gets triggered.

This is a different way of thinking about how the brain operates to help or hurt our performance – whether at work, in learning, in a sport, in any domain of ability. There are three main states depicted in the Yerkes-Dodson Law: disengagement, flow, and frazzle. Each of these has powerful impacts on a person’s ability to perform at their best: disengagement and frazzle torpedo our ...

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