We Put Fluoride In the Water

So lots of talk over the last year about performance enhancing drugs. Not in sports but in standardized testing.  Part of the performance learning stack I hypothesized a while ago is the optimized learner. In the stack I suggested emotional, physical, social and emotional as the elements to this optimal learner. Below are my thoughts on why our personal chemistry has a role.


Performance enhancement is a goal not a problem.  Not sure why remediation of problems with the brain (dementia. Alzheimers, etc.) are becoming increasingly treatable but enhancement is spurned.  Shouldn’t we be celebrating the leaps we are making in enhancing brain performance?  To aspire only to the norm is at odds with our natural tendency to grow and improve.  Learning, unlike sports, is not a zero sum game. There does not have to be a loser.   Smarter humans lead to a better world. The wave of innovations currently washing over us proves this. As our knowledge of the brain expands so should our expectations of performance. As “competitors” in a knowledge economy we are rewarded by increased brain performance, natural or not. I had the privilege of working, as a consultant,  with both Goldman Sachs and Microsoft in an earlier life.  While very different in industry the cultures were surprisingly similar. Goldman kicked you out after 2 years is you didn’t have an advanced degree, Microsoft intentionally turned over the bottom 10%-20% of its workforce with its “lifeboat” policy for bonuses. Both talked a lot about “intellectual horsepower.” Both the tech and finance industries are rife with stories of  smart drug use.  Coincidence?


I am a user.  This post is biased.  This post is still valid.  I do not smoke, I did for a while, but I am a regular user of nicotine gum.  Have been for years and feel the benefits of nicotine for increasing focus and cognitive performance make it the best over the counter tool for enhancing my work.  I have tried modafinil, the drug that was the basis for the movie Limitless.  I am currently using a natural stack called CILTEP® that is a natural nootropic that combines artichoke extract and forskolin. Its goal is to naturally induce long-term potentiation (a term I love).  You can learn more about nootropics and my rational for my “drug use” here at a great podcast called Smart Drug Smarts.

Learning is Evolution

This is not just a call to us as knowledge workers but to the vast industries that build and support us . Education, governments, testing and certification providers, all must stop saying “this isn’t fair” but instead evolve.  We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to anything that is accelerating our journey on the most important path we have.  I was thrilled to see neuroscience had finally made the ASTD now ATD (Association for Talent Development) agenda at their conference last week. Baby steps for a group still struggling with the math behind the big data in HR issue (cheap shot noted).

Learning is our world’s “silver bullet”.  There is not a problem we face that cannot be overcome. There is no goal unachievable. We just haven’t learned how yet.



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