Dear Reader,

In May I attended an interesting conference organised by the Training Journal about Positive Psychology and Neuroscience and its impact on learning. This month's Inspire is based on one of the sessions from the conference.

More morsels of information at the end of this Inspire about …

  • BOOK NOW Managing Challenging Interactions Workshop … Book your place on my free taster workshop near Chalgrove on Thursday 18th October, 9am – 11am.
  • E-book – Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom is now available on Kindle, buy it now, click here
  • Free coaching audits …. Do you want to find out how coaching could benefit you? Then try one of my free coaching audits.
  • Fascinating and practical talks for your business network event? I speak at a range of events….
  • Read previous editions of Inspire … click here
  • Twice daily encouragement … follow me on Twitter: MelanieInspires.

If you enjoyed today's edition of Inspire, please feel free to share it with friends and colleagues. They can sign up for free at

Best wishes




Melanie Greene

Which of these myths about the brain are true?

Test yourself on the common myths about the brain This month's edition of Inspire is based on Professor Trish Riddell's session at a recent conference that I attended. She is a Professor of Applied Neuroscience at the University of Reading. I asked her if she had written a book on this and she said she is on the 4th chapter, so this will have to keep you going in the meantime! Before reading further, test yourself as to which of these myths is true or false:

1. We make no new neurones in our brain after we are born - true or false

2. We only use 10% of our brains - true or false

3. There are left brain and right brain people - true or false

4. Listening to Mozart does not make you smarter - true or false

5. Your memory can hold 7+/-2 things at a time - true or false

6. It's all downhill after 60! - true or false

7. We know what will make us happy - true or false

8. Our memories of past events in our lives are inaccurate - true or false

9. The reptilian brain controls our emotional responses - true or false

10. The adult brain is able to be changed - true or false

I will now reveal all and hopefully get you to think about how these myths relate to your life.

We make no new neurones in our brain after we are born False. We make new neurons throughout our lives. For example, when we need to memorise things we are creating new neurons. We make less neurons when we are depressed and anxious, however, when we exercise we make more neurons and can make up for those lost due to anxiety.

On the radio today a research project has found no link between exercise helping with depression. But the research in terms of the brain does show that exercise can compensate for, or make up for, a slower production of neurons when we are low or anxious. I certainly know that when I am exercising regularly I feel so much better not just physically, but psychologically as well. Certainly coming back to work following a bike ride in the middle of the day I am usually far more productive than beforehand – so perhaps it is my new neurons firing on all cylinders!

‘What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.'

Samuel Johnson

We only use 10% of our brains Trish made us laugh by asking us that if this is so, which parts of our brain would we like to have removed!! The fact is that we use only 10% of our potential, while we actually use all of our brains when we carry out most daily tasks.

‘Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.'

Ambrose Bierce

There are left brain and right brain people False. The brain works together as a whole with both hemispheres communicating with each other when we are carrying out any task. However, different functions are located on different sides of the brain, rather than being duplicated in both hemispheres, but they then communicate to reason, play music, paint, argue, etc. But all functions need both hemispheres. For example, with speech, emotions connected with speech are on the right, tonality is on the right, while the rest is on the left.

The question was asked about differences in men and women. Trisha said that there are differences in spatial reasoning and language skills, as developmentally men and women's brains develop differently. Testosterone slows down the development of men's brains when they are young, so that means that generally women's brains develop more quickly enabling them to develop language skills at an earlier age. Men therefore have space in their brains at an early age to focus on spatial reasoning and spatial tasks, and therefore often become more advanced spatially. However, she said that this is then often compounded by adults speaking more to girls than boys, and giving boys spatial toys which then develop their separate skills even further.

Listening to Mozart does not make you smarter False. The original research that this myth was based on was done on a tiny sample of students, over a very short period of time, and proved nothing. And it has not been replicated since.

‘Brains first, then hard work.'


Your memory can hold 7+/-2 things at a time False. The original article that people often cite as proving this, doesn't even mention this as a fact. How much we can remember does depend on what you are memorising:

  • It does depend on whether you are using working memory or stored memories.
  • If you are learning a list of words or series of numbers, which involves our working memory, it does seem to be true.
  • When you are learning concepts, for example, in a training session, ‘Less is more' is true. It is better to go into a few concepts in depth to assist remembering what you have learned versus covering a lot of topics and ending up forgetting most of them.
  • Memory is also context dependent, so if you are learning rules and regulations to be used in the workplace, e.g. health and safety, it is best to learn them at work versus in a classroom, as you are more likely to remember to use them, if you have learned about them where you are going to use them. It is also important if that the learning can be applied straightaway. So this might be about having training in the office or using some online learning package which can be used at your desk.

It's all downhill after 60! You will be pleased to know that this is false when it comes to our brains, mind you, our body might be a different matter!!

It does, however, depend on what you are using your brain for:

  • Our ability to memorise facts does decrease, which doesn't mean we cannot memorise them, it will just take longer as we age, and we might need to use different types of memorising strategies.
  • Our knowledge and wisdom (hopefully) increases, which aids problem solving and decision making, which can make the older worker a valuable person to have in the workplace.
  • There are capacity limitations in our working memory compared to our physical memory. As we age, some connections disappear over time. However, there are proven things that can help you: crosswords, exercise, blueberries, good chocolate (I think she means dark chocolate), any red fruits and vegetables, and red wine, in moderation.
  • Tricia says it does appear that it is a case of use it or lose it.

‘Age is... wisdom, if one has lived one's life properly.'

Miriam Makeba

We know what will make us happy Yes and no! This was interesting as the audience were split between thinking we did know what makes up happy and half who thought we didn't. However, research into anticipation, shows that we are often wrong. It appears that things that we have looked forward to, have anticipated as making us happy, and that we are going to enjoy them, are often a disappointment. However, activities which we were not looking forward to (I am talking about, say, a party you were not particularly looking forward to, rather than going to the dentist) are often much more enjoyable than you thought. And perhaps this is true about dentists as well if you really dread them! I certainly have had situations where I have not been looking forward to a particular meeting or social event, but they have gone much better than I had thought.

Our memories of past events in our lives are inaccurate True. Memories of the past are inaccurate because of the following:

  • If we focussed on and remembered every sound, sight, feeling, smell, taste we experience in the course of a day, our senses would be totally overloaded, and it would be hard to function. Therefore, we filter out information, we delete, distort and make generalisations. As you sit reading this, start to focus on the sounds around you and you might suddenly notice ones that you hadn't heard before. So our memories can never be 100% complete.
  • We also interpret current events based on past experiences, and we even do this when we think about memories; we put our own perspectives on what has happened. This also means that two people's memory of an experience at work i.e. a meeting, a conflict, may well be completely different.
  • It does mean that when you are communicating at work, and you want people to remember the details of what you have said, you need to make sure that they are fully engaged so that they don't end up filling in the gaps of their memory when they have finished the conversation.

‘What touches the heart is engraved in the memory'


The reptilian brain controls our emotional responses This does depend on what you mean by ‘control'. Trisha said, ‘There is no such thing as an uncontrolled emotion', she says that emotional responses are impacted by:

  • Culture, societal or even family expectations. For example, one person's reaction to receiving a promotion might be very muted if they grew up believing ‘pride before a fall', so even if they are happy they don't show it.
  • Your memories of past events impact on how you respond to current experiences. So it might be your memory that is influencing the emotions you experience rather than it being a simple brain reaction to the experience.
  • Your ability to regulate your emotions. Trish said that it is a case of Trait versus State. Some people do seem to be born with an ability to manage their emotions, but that others can learn to do so. In fact, about 50% of my work with clients is about helping them to learn techniques to help them to manage their mood and their reactions to events. My book, ‘Master Your Inner Critic', has lots of techniques for managing your mood, mind and inner critic. See here for details.

The adult brain is able to change True. We are learning to do new things all the time. That might be learning to use a new Smartphone, a new piece of software, learning a new hobby or sport, learning to be more assertive. Anything you learn to do, at any age, requires your brain to change and develop.

‘A happy life is one spent in learning, earning, and yearning.'

Lillian Gish

If you have found this edition of Inspire interesting, and want to learn more then ...

  • Coaching can focus on what you want to change in your life, work and business. What I do with my clients has always taken an ‘inside out' approach to changing behaviour and increasing performance. See below for more information about my free coaching audits.
  • Talk to me about running a workshop for your team. This could be about effective team working, managing challenging interactions or how they manage their mood, motivation and performance.
  • Read my book, ‘Master Your Inner Critic', which has lots of techniques for managing your mood, mind and inner critic. See here for details.


BOOK NOW Managing Challenging Interactions Free Taster Workshop 

Reserve your place on my free taster workshop on Thursday 18th October at Monument Park near Chalgrove. From 9.00am to 11am, providing you with practical and easy to use ideas to managing challenging interactions at work. Places are limited so contact me on to book your place. See here for venue.



I've gone digital or at least my book has, Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom is now available on Kindle, buy it now by clicking here


Free coaching audits 

Each month I have three slots for a complimentary coaching audit to help you to identify whether coaching will assist you in what you want to achieve and what coaching programme will be right for you. This free audit involves the following:

  • You complete a pre-coaching questionnaire and return it to me.
  • We have a 45 minute telephone conversation to discuss your needs and how you might use the coaching to enhance how you work and run your business.
  • I send you a proposal of which coaching programmes might be suitable, or if other interventions such as training or a team working event might be more appropriate.
  • You then make a decision as to whether you wish to proceed.

If you want to sign up for the free coaching audit then email See below for more information about the different types of coaching I offer.


Do you want speakers for your business network event?

I speak at a range of team events, awaydays and business networks, and always make sure that the talks are interactive and practical, with people learning something that they can directly apply back at work. Recent talks have included:

  • Managing Challenging Interactions
  • Mastering Your Inner Critic (based on my book)
  • Changing Habits of a Lifetime
  • Learning From Your Mistakes
  • Managing Your Mood and Motivation
  • Your Brain At Work


Do you want to be more authentic at work and in your life?

There are a range of coaching and training programmes to assist you in developing your skills and confidence….

  • A six month Coaching For Excellence Programme to provide intensive coaching support to assist you in bringing about change in your mindset, your mood and state, and the impact these have on you achieving your goals.
  • One off Catalytic Coaching Programmes, to unblock whatever it is that is stopping you from changing your behaviour.
  • Ad hoc Coaching Sessions – Ad hoc coaching sessions can be on any topic. Sometimes they are designed to assist you in getting the most from my book. At other times people have a specific issue they are facing or have attended a course and need more support in terms of how they apply the ideas to their lives.
  • Master Your Inner Critic Online Programme – This includes a series of four e-booklets and four video clips based on my book to support you in putting the techniques and ideas into practice.
  • Effective Team Building Programmes – We have many years of experience running programmes for both senior management and operational teams.
  • Tailored Development Programmes – From one day events to on-going programmes, we can design them to meet your needs.

To find out more about these programmes email me on or call me on 01865 377334.


Do you want a taster of our services?

Then take a look at our freebies on the website for:

Recordings of my free webinars on:

  • Mastering your inner critic.
  • Changing Habits of A Lifetime
  • Improve Your Performance: Learn From Your Mistakes And Successes

Click here to listen to these recordings.

Free articles on the following topics:

  • Selling from the Inside Out
  • Managing Mood and Motivation During Challenging Times
  • Supporting others through Challenging Times
  • Master your inner critic
  • Buying in consultancy

Click here to read the articles.

For further book recommendations:

Click here.


For more information about Inspire Transformation visit our website: or call Melanie on 01865 377334 or email and follow Melanie on Twitter: MelanieInspires.


Why not share Inspire with colleagues and friends?

If you know of anyone else who might be interested in receiving Inspire for free, pass this onto them or they can sign up on my website:

Melanie Greene
01865 377334