Multitasking: A Human Delusion?

Multitasking: A Human Delusion?multi-tasking

“People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves,” said neuro-scientist Earl Miller. And, he said, “The brain is very good at deluding itself.”

Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.

What we can do, he said, is shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.

“Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not,” Miller said.

“You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly.”

Miller said there are several reasons the brain has to switch among tasks. One is that similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.

“Think about writing an e-mail and talking on the phone at the same time. Those things are nearly impossible to do at the same time,” he said.

“You cannot focus on one while doing the other. That’s because of what’s called interference between the two tasks,” Miller said. “They both involve communicating via speech or the written word, and so there’s a lot of conflict between the two of them.”

Researchers say they can actually see the brain struggling. And now they’re trying to figure out the details of what’s going on.

brain multi taskingPutting the Mind to the Test

At a lab at the University of Michigan, researchers are using an MRI scanner to photograph test subjects’ brains as they take on different tasks.

During a recent test, Daniel Weissman, the neuroscientist in charge of the experiment, explained that a man lying inside the scanner would be performing different tasks, depending on the color of two numbers he sees on a screen.

“If the two digits are one color — say, red — the subject decides which digit is numerically larger,” Weissman said. “On the other hand, if the digits are a different color — say green — then the subject decides which digit is actually printed in a larger font size.”

The tests can be tricky — which is the point. After an attempt, the technician told the test subject, “OK, do the same thing, except try to go faster this time.”

MRI studies like this one, Weissman said, have shown that when the man in the scanner sees green, his brain has to pause before responding — to round up all the information it has about the green task.

When the man sees red, his brain pauses again — to push aside information about the green task and replace it with information about the red task.

If the tasks were simpler, they might not require this sort of full-throttle switching. But, Weissman said, even simple tasks can overwhelm the brain when we try to do several at once.

“If I’m out on a street corner and I’m looking for one friend who’s wearing a red scarf, I might be able to pick out that friend,” Weissman said.

“But if I’m looking for a friend who’s wearing a red scarf on one street corner, and in the middle of the street I’m looking for another friend who’s wearing a blue scarf — and on the other side of the street I’m looking for a friend wearing a green scarf — at some point, I can only divide my attention so much, and I begin to have trouble.”

So the brain starts switching. Scan for red. Switch. Scan for blue. Switch. Scan for green. Switch.

The part of the brain that does this is called the “executive system.” It’s a bit like one of those cartoon conductors telling the orchestra: louder, softer, faster, slower. You come in here. You be quiet for a few measures.

The conductor in our heads lives in the brain’s frontal lobes, basically above our eyes.

“Executive processes allow us to make plans for our future behaviors,” Weissman said. “They allow us to exert some sort of voluntary control over our behavior.”

The executive system also helps us achieve a goal by ignoring distractions.

“For example, if we’re performing a task where we want to watch TV and ignore voices that are coming from, say, our children nearby,” Weissman said, “our frontal region brain may configure the brain to prioritize visual information and dampen down auditory information.”

And the brain’s executive will keep us in that mode until we hear, say, one of our children screaming.

“These are the things that make us the most human,” Weissman said. “We are not like jellyfish — it’s not like when you poke us, we always do the same thing.”

A Role in Evolution

Humans are also not like cats, or dogs, or even apes, when it comes to controlling how our brain responds, and what it responds to. Weissman says this skill probably evolved to help humans — who are pretty vulnerable, physically — to do things like hunt animals that are bigger and stronger.

“As hunters, you know, people had to hunt something, and keep track of where their friends were,” Weissman said. “You’ve got to think about, ‘What is that tiger going to do?’ you know, and, ‘I’ve got my group of friends’ — and surround the tiger.”

Weissman says that keeping track of all those things wouldn’t be possible without the executive system in our frontal lobes.

Still, Weissman said, “There are lots of animals in the world that hunt without these increased abilities. So I wouldn’t say that to hunt you have to have a lot of frontal development.

“But on the other hand, it helps. That’s why humans have become dominant on the planet.”

Dominant — and, perhaps, too confident in our own skill. Studies show we frequently overestimate our ability to handle multiple tasks.

For early humans, that sort of miscalculation could have meant becoming a tiger’s lunch. These days, the consequences are more likely to be stress, a blunder — or maybe a car crash.

High Performance Teams through Play

Did you know fun experiential programming can support your team’s success?

What would be the value to your team if:

  • Everyone was working towards the same, agreed upon, and understood objectives?
  • The relationships between the members of your team were stronger than ever?
  • Your team members recognized and valued each other’s strengths, skills and knowledge?

Just imagine how a high performance team would impact your bottom line?!?! 

What is Team Alignment?Team alignment

At the heart of any high performance team is a concept called Team Alignment.

Team alignment, by definition, is “the ability of team members within an organization to share a concrete understanding of what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to achieve it”.


We are referring to:

  • Alignment of working styles;
  • Agreement regarding the team charter; and
  • Agreement about team ground rules.

Teams who share an understanding of goals can bridge the silos and separate viewpoints that often drag down team performance. The result? More effective plans, ongoing decision-making and enhanced performance!

HOW TO Achieve Team Alignment

Each aspect of team alignment can be quickly enhanced through team-based experiential adventure programs. The challenges provide team members the framework to discover one another’s strengths and abilities, to agree on their objectives, and to discuss the strategies they are going to use to achieve them.

Experiential programs are designed to support the pillars of a well-functioning team:

Accountabilityaccountability in high performance teamsthrough the activities, team members will need to rely on one another and be responsible for their participation, decisions and actions. This accountability mindset in the workplace will allow your teams to focus on results. When things go awry, they will be less likely to make excuses and play the blame game and will be inclined to critically examine the situation and offer constructive solutions.

Communication – in order to successfully undertake experiential activities, participants will need to come together and strategically work through the challenges. This process promotes ongoing communication and will identify how the teams communicate and provide opportunities for them to improve.

Trusttrust in high performance teamsteam members will need to rely on each other mentally, intellectually and physically to successfully complete the activities. As team members learn they can rely on their colleagues to support them in achieving their common goals, greater trust is developed.


Relationships – the common experience of collaborating on physical and mental challenges which extends each participant’s comfort zone, builds bonds between team members much stronger than those created in the workplace.

Organizational Learning – teams will develop the skills necessary to review their decisions and performance critically, and highlights areas where they require further development, providing a solid foundation for teams to improve their effectiveness.

Bringing It All Together

Well-structured experiential programs, built on clear objectives and followed by careful reflection, ensures the awareness and lessons discovered are immediately transferred back to the corporate environment.

The enhanced accountability, communication, trust, relationships and organizational learning, which results from these shared experiences, allows teams to develop and agree on their team objectives and their strategies to accomplish their goals.

high performance teams challenge based learningIn summary, learning can be FUN & HIGHLY EFFECTIVE!

NexLevel Challenge specializes in this type of programming, contact us for more info!

Jencor Mortgage Improving their Communication

Communication Workshop

Letter of Testimonial

Jencor Mortgage Corp attends Emergenetics Communication workshop

“My business partner and I had the pleasure of attending your Emergenetics Communication Workshop. We LOVED every minute. Seated at a table with other business owners gave us the opportunity to learn about how different thinking preferences and behaviours affects every day business communication.

What sets Emergenetics apart from other assessments is its adaptability. It taught us that although we may have stronger preferences in some areas, we are able to learn and grow skill in all areas.

If you are serious about your business & how to communicate effectively, Tara-Lee and her team at NexLevel Challenge is a great investment. Emergenetics is the language that drives communication & business results. Hire smart, increase individual capacity and develop stronger teams! Thank you for kick starting our business!”

Colette Chapman, Jencor Mortgage Corporation, Calgary


Testimonial letter from Jencor Mortgage on Communication workshop

Top 5 Leadership Traits for Success

Leadership traits; competence, goal, professionalism & flexibility

I recently heard a panel of business professionals speak on the topic of Leadership. I took lots of notes and am happy to share a few of their Leadership Traits for Success:

  1. Be a strong & respected coach – Make yourself available and open to your team. Help them understand why they joined the team; connecting to this deeper why will drive a deeper sense of purpose. Understand your team members as individuals and how to motivate and coach each of them in their own way.
  2. Work beside your team – It is important to know when to step up as a leader and when to step back. Allow space for your team to shine and demonstrate their strengths. Being a leader doesn’t mean it’s all about you. Sometimes, being a regular ‘ole member of the team is one of the most valuable leadership traits you can exhibit.
  3. Personal accountability – Accountability can be a leadership game changer. It is vital you walk your talk and do what you say you will do. If there are actions & behaviours you expect from your team, you must demonstrate them yourself. Lead by example and be responsible for your actions. The credibility you will develop with your team will be astounding.
  4. Be honest, authentic & vulnerable – Demonstrate to your team that you are just another human being with feelings, fears and weaknesses. Vulnerability is a sign of courage and strength – it’s ok to fall down sometimes. Be willing to accept help and support from others and you won’t believe the length your team will go to help you.
  5. Stay calm – Especially under pressure, it is important to stay focused and avoid getting caught up in emotions and drama. Take a step back to change your perspective and bring new ideas to your team. Experiencing failure & adversity creates stronger teams. Stay focused on your core values and purpose in order to effectively lead your team through the storm.

Through the lens of Emergenetics, I am respectful of the differences in how people think & behave. It is these differences that bring diversity and strength into well performing teams. Keep this in mind and honour how leaders will demonstrate each trait in their own unique way.woman leader with different coloured think bubbles

When this panel was asked what leadership quality is most important in building an effective team, their top three responses were:

  1. Honesty & Accountability
  2. Drive & Determination
  3. Empowering your Team

What do you think? I would love to hear from you – comment below!

Take time to Play in your Boardroom!

Do you love to play? Do you know how good it is for you?

productive teams

Play is both a source of calmness and a source of stimulation for the brain and body; it is very powerful. Play also provides an opportunity to get to know more about the people we work with.

‘Play’ Definition: (verb) “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”.

Play has a number of components: curiosity, discovery, novelty, risk-taking, trial and error, pretense, games – many of which are the same as the components involved in learning. And it’s important to remember, play exercises both our bodies and our minds.

Sadly, as we age, we seem to lose the capacity to play, especially in the workplace where it can provide a definite benefit.  The value of play in the work environment:

  • Helps us learn and become more creative and flexible;
  • Breaks down barriers between people. Fun non-work physical activities, having a joke together will help to develop team rituals;
  • Reduces workplace stress. Prudent use of humor and laughter lighten our burdens and help us keep things in perspective. A good laugh has a positive physiological effect, releasing endorphins which lift our spirits, as does physical exercise;
  • Helps us learn to persevere as we strive to master something new. (Remember learning to ride a bike? I bet you didn’t do it overnight, but you were happy to practice and get up again when you fell off because it was fun); and
  • Sharing playful activities and having fun with our colleagues can help us find out what makes them tick.

So, there are many good reasons for encouraging play and humor at work. But let’s focus now on how play helps us discover & learn about co-workers.corporate-team-building-activities-calgary

First, think about play and creativity. Fun activities aimed at developing innovative ideas, combined with careful listening, give us insights into how people think. And when we’re caught up in the moment, we become more open – our internal censors relax and we express ourselves more freely.

Next, think about how people respond to situations, jokes and informal conversations. When we really listen to what they say, and observe their reactions, we not only find out what interests and amuses them, but we can discover much about their values and beliefs.

Importantly, when we’re having fun, we drop our defenses. This lets us, and our colleagues, discover how we’re likely to behave in unusual or pressure situations. We each have ingrained patterns of behavior built up over many years. Some of these are effective. Unfortunately others are not. But they exist and they emerge when we’re under pressure. During play and simulations, we find out how we’re likely to react under pressure, which does two things. First, we can identify areas that require conscious effort, training and follow up in order to develop more appropriate patterns. Second, by gaining insight into how people are likely to operate when things get tough, we have some idea of what to expect and we can proactively develop strategies to deal with potentially negative behaviors.

So, if anyone ever tells you that you shouldn’t be having fun at work, invite them to think again. Your ability to play may be your competitive advantage.


Team Performance Training in an Economic Downturn

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ Winston Churchill     

 Don’t Ignore Team Performance Training in Tough Times

We are definitely living in interesting times. Businesses face many challenges in an economic downturn; one of the most critical is how to remain innovative without over extending budgets and already-stretched staff. Historically, training budgets and employees are substantially reduced during economic downturns, as training dollars appear to be the line item to be cut or re-evaluated, as companies lay off workers.

However, indiscriminate or radical cuts can be dangerous, because economic turmoil exposes other business challenges and emerging competitive opportunities.

Your employees are your only true competitive advantage so corporations need to look at leveraging their talent; employees need to develop maximum adaptability amidst a rapidly evolving marketplace.

Leaders also, need to be more flexible and agile in response to the changing business climate as it seems, ‘the only constant is change’.

Leadership development is an investment companies need to make regardless of the booms and busts of the economy. It is a fact, during an economic downturn, it is even more critical you have skilled leaders who can communicate effectively as your company’s success is riding on the ability of these most forward thinking visionaries to lead and guide your organization and teams during these turbulent times.

Be the Company with the Competitive Advantage

Forward thinking corporations will align training with corporate strategy. Tight budgets are not a reason to change this strategy, but rather an opportunity to fast-track this trend.

Organizations who continue to educate and train their workforce during a downturn gain a significant competitive advantage when the inevitable recovery happens.

Also, broad-minded organizations do not eliminate leadership development; they strategically select candidates for purposeful training programs during this time.

There are companies who pride themselves on not reducing their training focus, despite the current, short-term economic forecast. They are looking to create their own opportunities during the economic downturn.  Training and employee knowledge improves your product and service against your competition, so let others be the ones weakening their product against yours.

The recovery of the economy, which will happen, will also bring problems in the areas of talent management and succession planning. Baby Boomers who had perhaps postponed retirement will hastily move in that direction. Organizations will be trying to rebuild their market share and revenues with the challenges of a loss in talent and knowledge. Generations X and Y will be expected to fill this talent gap, but do they have the knowledge to do so? These younger workers have career aspirations and expectations of their employers unlike those of the Boomer generation. Their learning preferences differ as well. Many organizations feel, even prior to the downturn, they are behind in meeting the learning needs of the Generation X and Y workers.

If training budget dollars are less than you would like and effectively managing a limited budget is a challenge, it is essential to set priorities and be sure you’re getting a return on every investment.

Call us today and let us help with our Team Performance Training program and financial grant assistance from the government. There has never been a better time to get a competitive advantage; be ready to put some rubber to the road when the downturn is an upturn!

Leadership Training at Red Lodge Ropes Course

Step into your Brilliance – Lead with Confidence!

NexLevel Challenge would like to invite you to an upcoming Leadership Brilliance.

Upcoming program details are below – we look forward to seeing you there.


What is Leadership Brilliance?

Leadership Brilliance is a highly interactive and practical leadership training experience that allows leaders to step into their brilliance and better understand how to effectively inspire their team. This experiential program will revolutionize the way you influence others in business, at home and in your community.

In addition to a fun and engaging afternoon in the stunning scenery of Red Lodge Guest Ranch, this leadership training program provides a practical & relevant approach to:

  • Understand how effective communication, collaboration and problem solving influences your leadership ability
  • Increase awareness around your personal strengths and areas for improvement
  • Experience commitment, accountability and vulnerability; all vital for effective leadership
  • Expand your personal comfort zone as a means to overcoming fears that impede success
  • Build confidence and ability in yourself as an individual, a leader and a team player

Participants will participate in a variety of activities both on the ground and on our high ropes challenge course. There are options for individuals to select their level of participation and you are not required to climb the high ropes to participate.

HR Professionals:  This program qualifies for 4 CHRP CPD credits

Leadership training using the Bermuda Triangle

Leadership training in an outdoor setting focused on experiential concepts.


Upcoming Dates:

Future Dates – Not yet Scheduled

(Email for more information)



11:15 am:                         Arrive on site

11:30 am – 4:00 pm:      Program (Includes 30 minute lunch)



Red Lodge Ropes Course, located at Red Lodge Guest Ranch, Bowden

Located 1 hour from Calgary & 30 minutes from Red Deer



$249 + GST          SPACES LIMITED! (Lunch Included)

$99 + GST            Preferred Partners (Call to Register)



1.866.840.2840 – ETransfers welcome


What Others are Saying:

“I can honestly say, as a facilitator myself and having been in many team & leadership training programs, NexLevel Challenge is one of the best experiences I have had! The experience covered mindfulness, challenging assumptions, creative thinking, deepening relationships, pushing to new highs and much more. I learned a lot about myself and took copious mental notes to become a better facilitator in my own practice!”

– Jenn Lofgren, Leadership Coach, Incito Consulting

The Science of Leadership Communications Workshops – January 30, 2018

Emergenetics – Meeting of the Minds

  • Are you curious about why you do the things you do and why some tasks come so easily and others feel so challenging?
  • Do you want to leverage your strengths to be more productive and satisfied?
  • Interested in learning how to motivate your team and overcome challenges with respect, trust and integrity?

NexLevel Challenge is excited to announce our partnership with the Calgary Board of Education & Chinook Learning Services. Read below to learn about our upcoming Meeting of the Minds workshop dates. Join us to learn about yourself and how to be your best through this modern, innovative and science based assessment tool.


New Logo - No Words black


In this one-day workshop, gain a true understanding of your strengths and areas of weakness by completing an online assessment tool called Emergenetics. Technically, Emergenetics is a psychometric assessment based in brain science and validated through research. Practically, it provides clarity and helps individuals and teams understand who they are and how they work and communicate.

The workshop fee includes your own unique and customized Emergenetics assessment ($160 value) which you complete online in advance. At the workshop, receive your personalized profile and in-depth narrative report. Following the workshop, you will have access to the Emergenetics+ app to continue developing your understanding and implementing of your learnings.

Participant Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand why you think and behave the way you do
  • Enhance working relationships
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Work more effectively and perform at a higher level
  • Utilize proven tools for better communication and work styles
  • Improve performance and resolve differences.

Who Should Attend?

  • Professional interested in understanding how to be more effective at work & home.
  • Leader who wants to develop a more cohesive team through improved communication, collaboration and teamwork
  • Human Resources Professional looking for a neuroscience based tool to expand their toolbox.

HR Professionals:  This program qualifies for 7 CHRP CPD credits

Upcoming Dates & Times:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018                    9:00 am – 4:00 pm


Erlton Campus, 24, 28th Ave SW, Calgary


$289                       Includes your Emergenetics profile & 7 hr workshop


Via Chinook Learning Services, CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Do you have questions? Please contact us at 1.866.840.2840 or


What Others are Saying:

“This tool is by far one of the best assessments to hit our market in recent years”

– Aly Bandali, CHRP, Past Chair of Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA)

“Emergenetics is the most accurate profile we have ever completed; the results allow us to understand ourselves and others much better. The self-analysis is insightful & gives us a better approach to deal collaboratively and openly with others and to maximize our strengths. We have seen immediate results and already have a stronger team with common objectives and enhanced relationships.”

– Pharmacy Operations Team, Calgary Co-op

Introducing the Red Lodge Ropes Course!

Many of you have experienced the NexLevel Challenge first class Ropes Challenge Course, located at the beautiful Red Lodge Guest Ranch, west of Bowden, Alberta.

We are excited to announce the new name for our facility, the Red Lodge Ropes Course! Check us out at

Connect with us:

NexLevel Challenge 5

Join us at Red Lodge Ropes Course for the Experience of a Lifetime. Challenge Courses are a fun and exhilarating way to spend a day – expanding your comfort zone and creating lasting memories with co-workers, family & friends.

Accredited by the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), our extensive facility offers ground elements, low ropes, team challenge high ropes, a recreational high course and a zip line. More information on the Course

Our recreational high course is open every Saturday from now through October 2015. Join us with a group of friends or family for an experience that everyone will be talking about all summer long! Just for Fun High Ropes information

Are you looking for something unique to do with your employees? Sports team? Youth group? School staff? Check out our dynamic and engaging team building programs. You can learn more about a person in a day of play than in a year of conversation! Team Building information

Are you interested in FREE Training $$’s?

Alberta businesses have an incredible opportunity to have employee training paid for by the Canadian Government.

The Canada-Alberta Job Grant will reimburse employers up to 2/3 of employee training costs to a maximum of $10,000 PER employee!

New skills concept.

NexLevel Challenge’s Team Performance Training System qualifies for this Grant and allows business owners to provide this unique and highly effective training program to their employees for a fraction of the cost! Do you want to provide your employees training but are concerned about the Alberta economy? This Grant may be your answer!

Too busy for paperwork? NexLevel Challenge will apply for and track the approval process of your grant on your behalf. Contact us today and give your team a strong competitive advantage.

Click here for more information.