Easy Tips for Online Learning Success

saber_tooth_catAnxiety researcher Robb Dunn at NC State suggests that we experience anxiety because our primitive ancestors were somebody’s dinner. They were under constant threat to be eaten by giant hyenas, cave bears, lions, eagles, snakes, wolves, saber-toothed cats, and even giant, predatory kangaroos! When you get anxious about something like a new online course or how-to use e-learning technology your primitive brain is signaling danger, threat! Anxiety’s function is to motivate you to take action to survive or thrive. The causes of anxiety are different now like technology, but the anxiety feels the same.

Anxiety is a primitive emotion that shows you care and drives you to take action, grow, and succeed. However, high anxiety interferes with learning and performance. To reduce anxiety and succeed at online learning here are easy tips to get you ready to take an online course.

Before You Start:

Tip: Check your system requirements like internet speed and browser.

Tip: Set your cookie, pop-up blocker, and security features ahead of time to allow for pops ups and links.

When You Land on a Course for the first time, answer these questions:

  1. Why am I here? Look for the course title and catalogue description (sometimes this is not there, but will be in the syllabus).
  2. Who is the human to contact for help? Name, Credentials, and Link to Instructor’s biography.
  3. How do I contact the human? Email, Phone, Hours, Office Address, Special Instructions.
  4. What is my Call to Action (CTA)? Establish your online presence by doing the Introduction discussion.
  5. When should I come back here? Daily.

By taking these easy steps before and on the first day of class, online learning is less anxiety provoking. Next, we will look at tips for success like reading the syllabus and establishing a solid, professional online presence.


Seven Seconds to Success

When you first encounter someone they make a decision about you in seven seconds. Beyond a first impression which is made during the first three seconds and is relatively shallow about your appearance and attractiveness, the next four seconds is where you seal your fate. Seven seconds is all it takes to make it or break it, whether it is during a job interview, sales call, or annual performance review. A lifetime of preparation can boil down to a seven-second encounter.

Why Seven Seconds?


All of us, admittedly or not, form an opinion about a person or business within seven seconds of coming in contact with them. Those hasty judgements we make have their roots in evolution. In other words, our primitive origins drive our modern day social interactions. In fact, evolutionary psychologists go so far to suggest that we make quick decisions now because we had to act fast in early times to not end up as dinner!


Our psychological make-ups have not changed while our environment and challenges have. In prehistoric times, you would have had to make a quick judgment about an encounter with an unknown animal to avoid being a snack. Today, you make a hasty decision about a new business partner, service provider, or even romantic interest to avoid being taken advantage of, or worse, physically hurt. According to Mark Schaller, a leading social psychologist at the University of British Columbia, during that critical first seven seconds of contact, we subconsciously decide whether a threat might be present and if we want to engage with someone. In seven seconds we sum up a new person well enough to try to figure out if we are interacting with a criminal or a sociopath that might steal from us or do us harm, or a nice person we want to do business with, buy a product from, or even date.

Tips to Prepare for Your Seven Seconds


Your life is a series of seven-second encounters where the world is judging you. All day everyday people decide if they want to do business with you, hire you, date you, or even be your friend. So, how do you best prepare for those fateful seven seconds? How do you connect with someone in seven seconds?

  1. Jog, bike, or walk on a regular basis. It is widely accepted that rhythmic exercise like running builds confidence, grooms effective leaders, and is associated with greater income. But, how? Exercise like walking and stair climbing are primitive. They are a central pattern generator (CPG) that once it starts it keeps going like a wheel and activates your primitive brain. While the body moves, the brain can do something else, such as listen to music or watch a television monitor. Think of a CPG as a liberator. It allows your brain to think, reflect and plan while your body does its thing. Any simple, easy rhythmic exercise calms your mind and decreases your anxiety. In the long run, it puts you in touch with your primitive, natural, and relaxed self that people will like and trust.
  2. Mimic the other person’s body language. This communicates empathy. If the person you encounter is standing, then stand. If their arms are open and at their side, yours should be too. When we convey empathy we establish a connection and within seven seconds can begin to build a lasting relationship.
  3. Quell social anxiety. As we saw above, regular exercise like jogging can help over time, but not always in the moment. The problem with anxiety is that nervousness conveys uneasy excitement to others. It is unnerving and will immediately turn people off to you. When you are anxious, forget seven seconds; you are done in less than three! The reason is that primitive man would have experienced anxiety to signal danger – a lurking predator for example. So when you are anxious you are signaling a nearby threat and people will associate you with danger. To appear less anxious, remember that anxiety is your brain playing tricks on you by overvaluing social encounters. To reduce anxiety, breathe deeply and maintain open-arms and tall postures to signal to your brain that there is no threat. Next, shift your focus from you to the other person. Be empathetic. Ask yourself, what is (s)he saying? Determine how (s)he feels. By focusing on the other person, you establish rapport and are now using anxiety to your advantage during each seven-second


Seven Seconds goes by in a hurry. But it is all the time we have based on how evolution wired our brains. Prepare for your seven seconds with rhythmic exercise to put your best foot forward and then use the easy how-to tips to make every seven seconds a success!


Focus Your Dream!

blog_focusThis is a true story – my personal friend who we will call “Tony” and a man also known as the Las Vegas “Gentleman’s Club King” dropped out of Ohio University’s graduate program in mathematics and sunk his last $12,000 into his first club in Dallas, Texas. He eventually turned that rather modest investment of $12,000 into $80 million. And that was just the beginning. Over the course of the next few decades, he would do the same over and over again in Texas, Canada, and Vegas amassing a fortune, being featured on Lives of the Rich and Famous, and living a dream life.

What made “Tony” such a successful businessman? It was actually quite simple. He would sit quietly in meetings, apparently tuned out of the discussion and daydreaming. However, while he may have appeared aloof and unfocused, he was simply waiting to hear the one number that would lead to his financial position two, ten, and twenty years down the road.

Although as a mom now, I don’t see “Tony” or even speak to him I thought about his story as I struggle with my number one roadblock to success: FOCUS. Focus is a huge issue for a lot of us. Trying to figure out that one thing we should be doing or how we should define ourselves to separate ourselves from the pack and get where we want is hard! In working through this problem over the past year to redefine myself from sports & health sciences to psychology & neurosciences where I want to be I came up with a plan. It is called the 2-10-20 principle, and all it means is that you have to come up with a hard numbers plan you can execute.

First, write-down where you want to be in 2, 10, and 20 years from now. This part is a bit abstract and that is OK. In the next post, we will take the 2-10-20 principle and turn it into immediate action, but first, we have to figure out where we want to go. What is the goal? What is your dream life?


Sports Related Brain Injuries – The Numbers

Let’s look at the numbers –

If you love an athlete in a contact sport the numbers are terrifying:

⇒Approximately 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation-related head injuries occur each year in the United States alone

⇒Girls are at greater risk to get a head injury in sports than boys

⇒Head injury can cause mental illness – in fact, the risk of developing  depression, mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis, and other illnesses increases 400%  with head trauma



What’s holding you and your business back?

If you are like most people you will set a new year’s resolution or goal. Like many people that goal may be fitness or health related. However, many people fail to reach their fitness goals not because of lack of effort, but the mindset that they go into it with. There are four killer thoughts that doom fitness goals from the beginning. Be aware of them and flip them to use to your advantage.

  1. Rumination: as humans we tend to go over and over things in our heads. The thoughts of ‘what-if, should have, and would have’ are constant. They cause self-doubt and anxiety. If you have failed with fitness in the past, you might play the failure like a broken record and assume that you cannot be successful with fitness in the future. Rumination is a significant source of stress and an emotional roadblock to success that you must overcome to be successful with fitness. The key is to simply acknowledge your past experiences with fitness and set the intent to do something totally different, whether it is a new activity, hiring a fitness trainer, or following the next three steps.
  2. Unreachable Goals: These are goals that we cannot reach because they are unrealistic. Unreachable goals are larger than life goals like ‘lose weight’ or ‘lose 50 pounds’. These don’t work. Instead set micro goals or session-based goals like “I will finish 20 minutes on the treadmill today.” Session based goals build self-esteem and self-efficacy with fitness that builds into a long term program.
  3. Emotional Toxins: most people show up in gyms and fitness centers with toxic thoughts about the facilities, equipment, and staff. You have to retrain your thinking about fitness and lifestyle change. That starts with the first two minutes of exercise. Simply set an intention for that fitness session or focus on a problem that you would like to solve during that session. For example, if you have had a rough day set an intention like “I will feel less stressed when I walk out of here.” Re-set your mind to think of fitness as positive versus negative and immediate versus long term only.
  4. Alignment: the most challenging aspect of personal fitness is to truly personalize it. Align your fitness preferences with your psychological make-up. For example, if you are an introvert, walking on the treadmill is best for you while for an extrovert group fitness is a great starting place. Beyond choosing the right mode of fitness, align your goals with your psychological make-up. Is weight loss or increased muscle tone really a motivating factor for you? Or, is it something more cerebral like simply improving low mood?

Whatever your unique relationship with fitness is and what has happened in the past you can be successful with fitness by simply changing your thoughts and approach. When you walk into a gym or fitness center remember that the past is irrelevant and the future is not as important as right now. The key is to personalize and differentiate each session with immediate goals and your unique psychological make-up. Enjoy the New Year and new you!