Are you in control?
19 Jan, 2023 •
“This summer will be my summer!”
is what you told yourself after the December feeding frenzies. Now it’s the New Year and you are making the resolution to get in shape and achieve the perfect summer body. One that is suitable for long parades on the beach and breathtaking for all your admirers. But after a few weeks of hard work in the gym and watching your diet, you can literally hear that red velvet cake in the bakery shop window screaming your name. Which leaves us with the following question “are you really in control of your own actions?”. Find out by measuring cognitive control. In this blog you read everything about cognitive controle and how it relates to our daily lives and work performance.
Sorry, what do you mean by cognitive control?
Cognitive control allows our mind to override impulses. It helps us make thoughtful decisions based on our goals rather than our habits. It’s what allows us to select a certain behavior that is accepted as appropriate and reject inappropriate behavior. It also clarifies our long-term goals and purposes, which helps us to adjust our behavior to reach these goals. Our inhibition abilities are the brakes of our cognitive control system. They enable us to avoid doing certain behaviors and allow us to consider our actions instead of reacting on impulse. Cognitive control is at the center of our self-awareness. This is our highest level of consciousness, and a main building block of our willpower.
Cognitive control at work
Our cognitive control underlies important behavioral expressions like agility, improvisation, patience, self-control, and work pace. Cognitive control is of great importance on the work floor. It becomes especially important for jobs where important decisions must be made in short amounts of time. It also is of great importance for jobs where you have to deliver constant, precise and high quality work. Our cognitive control skills underlie our abilities to remain “zen” at the workplace. As the name already suggests, it enables us to be in control of the situation!
We are all familiar with those television shows that test inexperienced chefs to their limits like “Top chef” or “Master chef”. The best chefs in the world are heavily dependent on their cognitive control mechanisms. They have to continuously adapt their work pace to the occupation of the restaurant and the desires of the guests. Besides that, they have to account for a lot of information at once and make numerous decisions based on their product properties. When something goes wrong, they have to improvise last minute to save the dish. Information concerning the preparation, cooking time, and locations of different tables, have to be linked together and fast decisions have to be made constantly. Therefore, chefs and many other jobs in gastronomy require particularly good cognitive control performance!
Hole in one, or set point?
Two famous people that we expect to have extraordinary cognitive control skills are Tiger Woods (*at the peak of his career) and Rodger Federer. Both players ooze class and are able to adjust their movements until the very last moment. For example, Tiger Woods was aware of his movements every second during his golf competitions and could adjust or stop his swing until the very last moment. Like Tiger Woods, you can observe how Rodger Federer is in total control of his actions. He really knows what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and when to do it. All without even thinking about it!