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In Search of Excellence – Part 1 of 2

May 7, 2008

Many of you know that my educational background is in the biological sciences. The more you learn about the human body and all of its intricate functions, the more you will marvel at the complexity and perfection of each system all the way down to the cellular level.

WARNING: The science geek in me is about to come out!  Without getting too technical, let me explain some of the basics of muscle anatomy and muscular control.

MuscleOur skeletal muscles are made up of multiple compartments. Each compartment contains groups of individual muscle fibers. These individual muscle fibers, working in conjunction with one another, contract (or shorten) which results in movement of the bones they are attached to.

Each one of these individual muscle fibers are controlled by electronic signals or nerve impulses sent from our brain. If the fiber receives a signal it contracts. It is all or nothing. The force of the muscle contraction, or the effort exerted by the muscle as a whole, is controlled by the number of individual fibers that contract.

For example, if I go out to my driveway and try to lift my car off of the ground, my brain will send a signal to every single muscle fiber in numerous muscles throughout my arms, legs, and back in an effort to lift that car off of the ground. Conversely, if I want to lift a pencil off of my desk, my brain subconsciously chooses to activate the correct number of fibers to accomplish that task.

This is where it gets cool!!! Let’s say you open up a can of Coke and leave it on the table. Little do you know that your son came by and finished it without you knowing. You return later, expecting a full can of Coke. Your brain sends the proper signal to pick up the full can. Instantly, your brain detects that the can is lighter than expected, and shuts off the signal to the unnecessary muscle fibers. Of course, all of this happens without us ever having to think about it!

OK. The science lesson is over. Tomorrow we will look at how we can apply this to our personal and business lives as we strive for excellence.

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