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Brain Operating System: Autopilot

by Randall Craig on July 28, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Miscellaneous, Motivational

Tagged as: , , ,

DOS, Windows, and Mac OS are all names of computer operating systems. They control the computer chips, memory, and give the computer its unique personality. While we are certainly not computers, we too are controlled by a system: a Brain Operating System.

Our BOS has a tremendous autopilot system: without even thinking, our heart pumps, our lungs breathe, and our eyelids blink. Our conscious minds do this automatically too: we go into “autopilot” when we drive home. We have our coffee at the same time each day… and get it from the same coffee shop.

At work, it is too easy to let more important activities – ones that need your brain – slip into autopilot. When this happens, initiative, innovation, and impact all suffer. Even worse, we sometimes put our personal relationships on autopilot, and begin to take other people for granted. Unfortunately, the “habit” of autopilot is one we get better at with practice.

Autopilot is a double-edged sword: it gives us a mental break from the repetitive, but at the risk of automating things that really do need our attention. Particularly at times of significant change, we need to know when to turn off the autopilot.

This week’s action item: Take one day this week, and upgrade your Brain Operating System by avoiding autopilot behavior. Take a different route to work, surprise your colleagues with recognition, and approach your “usual” tasks in an unusual way. Not only will you see things differently, others will see you differently too.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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