Managing change effectively involves managing mindset. Where your mind is set determines if change is scary and ‘hard’ or exciting and ‘easier’. I don’t want to imply that change will be without discomfort but it doesn’t have to be down right painful.
How you see it – perception – matters. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is a pervasive perception that drive us into our ‘survival brain’. I don’t think there is anything primitive about our amazing brain, yet there are evolutionary levels of engagement that impact our behaviors in everyday life.
I look at the brain in terms of its three evolutionary levels (See image). Level 1 and 2 is in a nutshell all about our survival instinct and our mammalian need for security, love and self-esteem. Neuroscience has shown that ‘perception is reality’ and truly reality is not, ‘objective’.
‘Reality is an illusion; albeit a very persistent one’ ~Albert Einstein
It’s persistent because generally speaking, most people are stuck in Level 1 and 2 mind. It’s this mindset of how we see, ‘survival of the fittest’ that keeps us stuck in Level 1 and 2 mind of our brain. The way to thrive is to connect with your ‘thrival’ brain, which is what I like to call it. This Level 3 area, called the neo-cortex is our ‘executive functioning’ level of brain of self-awareness, higher decision-making, confidence, imagination/innovation, empathy and spiritual purpose and connection.
Level 3 brain can transcend the survival brain fears – FEAR which is ‘Fictitious Evidence Affecting Reality’ – which keeps our storytelling brain stuck on fight/flight/freeze response. It can actually break the loop of deer-in-the-headlight reactions from the Level 1 and 2 brain/mind. This belief in competition at all costs, in order to survive becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Inner peace is closer than you realize. You don’t have to ‘do’ any thing. In fact it is your tendency to need to, ‘do something’ that is driving peace of mind out of reach. We have been taught to separate our self into pieces. Be one way at home and one way at office. One way at church or temple and one way with our friends.
In fact, the one thing we don’t tend to do is to question – who is the ‘real me’? Is there a ‘real me’ buried under all those ‘shoulds, oughts and have to’s? Yes – and this center, this core self is peaceful – peace filled – by Nature. You will have to slow down and reflect to reconnect with your Self however.
This segmenting of our self is reflected in our ‘divided brain’. Are we left-brain or right-brain? Why not both? We have two hemispheres for a reason. We also don’t tend to trust our own mind and heart. We have allowed the outer world to define us – who we should be, what we can do, what we can have – and we’ve lost our Self, our inner peace in the process of chasing outer ‘stuff’. Enough already.
Ironically, we can have the outer experience and enjoy it more when we show up whole. When we allow our authenticity to come through, drawing on our whole self, our whole mind, our spirit and our physical body, we come to life integrated. The path to inner peace is to stop living in pieces and to start living with purpose.
‘The purpose of life is a life with purpose’
Leadership development is another area of personal and professional growth that is not surprisingly, undergoing change. What we historically attribute to leadership style is no longer working as we move further and further away from a, ‘One size fits all’ workplace to a more collaborative culture of innovation. Historically, the ‘command-control’ leader who intimidated people into motivation was the macho style that was ‘traditional’.
Stereotypically, this is thought of ‘male leadership’, though I’ve been in the past and have known some pretty bossy women also. Then there’s the so-called ‘female leadership’ style that is supposedly not strategic, is overly inclusive to a fault and expected to be the caregiver personality – the ‘Mother Hen’.
Actually, the truth is, some women are empathetic, some are bossy and then there’s everything in between. For men, I can say the same though both genders tend to unconsciously hold themselves into socially conditioned patterns – in certain conditions. It’s not so much as, the way, ‘we are’ as it is ‘the way we think we are’.
Considering that we are now in the 21st century and technology can replace ‘assembly line’ jobs, why wouldn’t leaders need to also change the way we do things? Why do we continue to expect people to ‘act a certain way’ based on gender? The work place is very diverse – generationally, culturally and perceptually. I say perceptually, in that there are differences in what is expected out of a job – performance, behaviors, values and relationships, for example.
The older generation – the ‘Boomers and The Matures’ are trenched in the tradition of ‘either/or’ – either work your life away or you are ‘lazy’. It’s the old ‘hard work’ ethic. Many of the ‘Millennials’ are seeking more work/life balance, more personal development and more autonomy and upward mobility based on ability and not politics. Of course, there are variations of expectations across generational lines as well. In order for leaders to adapt to change more rapidly and with more ease, we will need to look for some real innovative solutions – like changing how we think so we can have better people-leadership skill
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” Leo Tolstoy
We, human beings, love stories. One of the all time favorite theme is, ‘The Hero’s Journey’. Adventure stories and the lessons from ‘fairy tales’ were, and still are, at the top of my list of favorite movies, books and conversations. This is why movies like, ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’ and even more contemporary movie settings in the ‘adventure’ genre are so popular. Too often we only live vicariously through the movies and lives of others. We see this journey in others yet remain blind to our own personal hero or ‘shero’ journey.
A facet of ‘self-awareness’ is recognizing that we are all on this journey. Our lives are an adventure of self-discovery, other-discovery and life-on-earth discovery. This includes the work that we do in the world. Do you perceive your work as a ‘hardship’ or a place to uncover your true potential? Do you see it as stressful, or simply a challenge to expand your vision for your life? How you perceive your self and your experience will determine how you respond to it – to your life.
We are all a hero on a journey and our journey defines our message. Take notes along the way so that you can then share your lessons.
I see a lot of unhappiness coming across the airways. I hear messages about what’s wrong with ‘us’. There are an awful lot of people at the office and generally, scrambling to ‘fix’ themselves in some way, shape or form. Here’s a novel thought – ever think about the fact that you are simply on a ‘Hero/Shero Journey?’
Leadership and developing emotional intelligence is really ‘personal growth and development’. It’s important to distinguish this as if leaders want to become more empathetic, engaging and inspiring, we need to recognize that we need to change our self first. One reason why this feels so threatening and challenging is that society applies the connotation that personal growth means, ‘fixing your self’. This perception stops most people in their tracks when it comes to embracing personal growth and development. For example, if you were in a group setting and I asked one of the following questions:
1. How many people need to fix themselves so they can become better leaders?
2. How many people need to learn and grow in order to reach more of their true potential?
Now, notice how you feel about raising your hand to number one. How do you feel raising your hand to number two? From an outcome perspective both roads lead to ‘behavioral change’. Which one do you think would be easier to get people to buy into?
Why is this? Why do we resist admitting we need behavioral change?
Productivity and performance matter and underneath this is how we think. We load up on ‘what to do?’; the deeper question is ‘how do we think about it?’. If we think that work and life are ‘hard’ and that to be successful we have to feel ‘pressure or stress’, we are likely to dampen our level of productivity and performance. It takes more energy to push against ‘hard’ than to enjoy ‘easy’. This is about our perception – a subjective matter. You see it is not so much as what we do, as much as it is the mindset we hold about what we do and how we focus our brain as we do it.
We are using our brain of course. Yet, we talk more about optimizing our website, our keywords or our bank accounts than we do about optimally using our amazing Inner Brain Technology. Of course, this is typically due to lack of knowledge. Talk about ‘innovation’, this is a new frontier. It is an answer to issues such as bad bosses, team disengagement and stagnant culture – and no I’m not only a ‘dreamer’.
While having a clear intention and an expansion of vision – a dream – is the path to real innovation, I also realize that people need to ‘want’ to change. When we understand how to more easily recognize and change our derailing behavior, we can play the game of life at a whole different – and easier – level.
I would suggest that the challenges of a four-generation workforce, rapid change, need to innovate quickly and 70% employee disengagement rates are reasons to incentivize change. Still, this is a tall order. How are we going to do all of this while under unprecedented stress and uncertainty? Obviously, we need to be be open to new answers, as what we are currently doing – isn’t working.
Fortunately, even being able to change our thinking about what is possible is included in this idea of optimally operating our brain’s processing system. We can expand our vision for possibility as we learn how to stop constricting our potential. We currently use our brain to limit our performance instead of using it to help us be more effective. I use the metaphor of technology as we have modeled technology after our brain without even realizing it consciously.
What are some of the things we currently do to sabotage our brain’s efficiency?
Real leadership is about having the courage to inspire change and engage the heart of others to take action. Not just action for the sake of action. There also needs to be clarity of ‘why’ you are choosing a given course of action. What are you as a leader doing that is different than you did two years ago to be more effective? The environment has changed in two years, have you course corrected? Or is your rational mind stuck in the past?
Perhaps your left-brain needs to collaborate with your right-brain and create a new vision in your mind’s eye and heart – then engage to lead others toward it. As the adage goes,
‘Vision without actions is a day dream, action without vision is a nightmare’
Most people are living a nightmare and apparently, the worse part of it begins as they wake up in the morning and head to work. Supposedly, the highest rate of heart attacks is at 9:00am on Monday mornings. In case you are wondering why this is, that is the first day back to work. Activity is at an all time high. Productivity apparently is dropping if 80% of the workforce is disengaged. What are ‘we’ afraid of? Why must human beings keep acting with insanity, as Einstein is to have defined it.
‘Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results’.
Autocratic leadership doesn’t work. Even if you can intimidate people into conformity, it is such a near-sighted tactic that resources – profits – are impacted by it. Low energy, poor attitude, and a caustic work environment – can’t ‘leaders’ see that for lack of vision people are ‘perishing’? The old school said that ‘vulnerability’ meant weakness, compassion was for the wimpy and intuition was airy-fairy or ‘a woman’s’.
Yet, even in the face of validation from science about the power and reality of these very powerful human attributes to engage people, many leaders are still aggressively or passive-aggressively opposing embracing the conversation for EQ and personal development. Why? Lack of courage. It takes courage to embrace change and have tough conversations.
Let me be clear; courage is not the same as intimidation. Intimidation, or the bully boss or the poorly communicative culture is a result of lack of courage of those in leadership. I say, have compassion for yourself if you feel overwhelmed by the rapid change and just know that contrary to popular myth, having a high IQ doesn’t mean you know everything.
We have more insight about our brain than we’ve had in recorded human history and it would be courageous of you as a leader to start paying attention to how you can start to retrain your brain to change your perception about compassion, vulnerability and empathy. Intuition is an ingredient for real innovation. Disrespecting it because ‘traditionally’ it has that way is to keep living your past in the present – even when it no longer works.
Leaders, and people in general, are searching for new answers. New answers – innovation – requires an open mind. I hear and read much about innovation. Much is being said about ‘cutting edge’ and ‘embracing change’ and leaders leading…and still many people cling to what they, ‘know’.
How do you ‘know’ something?
Did you know that our brain is remarkable at creating ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’? Also, many of the ‘social norms’ and ways of thinking had to start somewhere in time. Perhaps they served groups and the social structure at one time, but the environment changes. The difference is that now, the environment is changing a lot faster than only a decade ago.
Overwhelm has the potential to keep increasing while at the same time, we are all expected to perform at higher and higher levels. How will we do this if what we already, ‘know’ is all there is? The answer is obvious to me – we need to ‘know’ some new things and that only happens by being willing and then taking action.
For many, being willing is actually the challenge. Our ways of thinking have commonly caused many of us to ‘dumb down’ our Creator given magnificence as human beings. Each and every human being has some gift or talent that is unique in their own unique way of expressing. Each person has a potential that could, not only lead him or her to more achievement, peace, joy and confidence, but it can be used to serve the world and make it a better place.
Whether it is leadership performance at the office or within your social service or your home, we all need to grow and evolve in order to uncover the gold that is already within us. It’s time to stop, ‘Looking for love in all the wrong place’ and find it within so that we can bring it out to shine to the world. I believe it is arrogant and crude to consider our self as ‘defective’ or broken.
Humility is accepting and loving our self with compassion, cultivating our purpose and gifts, not beating our self up. Instead of seeing our limitations as something shameful or ugly, we can retrain our brain – literally – to see with new ‘mind’s eyes’. You see perception is changeable and it creates your ‘reality’.0
Personal power and a sense of purpose is at the foundation of real productivity. Having a sense of purpose that is compelling for you fuels personal power and passion. Personal power is not about ‘power over’ others. It is not even about always ‘being in control’ over the environment. Haven’t you noticed? We cannot always control the environment or what happens to us – we surely cannot really control other people.
The key to true personal power is mastering your own thoughts and feelings, the two ingredients for your life experience. What we think and feel determines our actions. It is not about ‘time management’. It is about ‘Self-Management’. True self-mastery will require you to get clear about what is purposeful for you. Doing so will allow you to make a real impact instead of simply burning out.
A strong sense of self-worth and confidence is required to create a Purpose Filter, as you will have to speak up and explicitly communicate when asked to do something that is not relevant to how you need to authentically show up in life.
Answering the heart’s need to know ‘Why’ fuels Passion and purpose. Passion increases your energy, focus and ease in accomplishing your tasks. ‘Why’ do you want to be on that Board ‘Why’ do you have that long ‘to do’ list? How will you accomplish the tasks on that list most effectively? What will it do for your family, friends and community? How will it positively impact the world? Having a purpose that is important to you makes work less like work, and more enjoyable.
Let me be clear – productivity is NOT synonymous with ‘activity’. As a whole, people are more busy and stressed than ever. And, more skill, innovation and ‘productivity’ are being expected now than ever. How are you going to get it all done? In fact, the more helpless and overwhelmed one feels, the less focused, empowered or clear she or he is, the less likely the end result goal will be reached in a form of excellence if at all. How are we going to do all this?
Where to begin? While it is important to do a “Brain dump” onto paper all that you are carrying in your head (holding it there is not a good idea for your personal power or your vitality), you need to then determine what to do with it all.
I have a Purpose Filter. It is about being strong and courageous enough to get off the hamster wheel of others and decide where you want to go and what is important for you. Once you have a Purpose Filter, you can run your ‘to do’ list through it and get rid of what is not relevant. Ask your self, what should be delegated and then begin to reflect on a plan to sort and accomplish tasks over time – with maneuverability built in.
In addition to tactical steps, you need to consider the importance of retraining your brain – your old habits are likely to be keeping you stuck. Personal growth is important for true personal power and living on purpose. While this can be a layered process for some people, here are some tips that are both tactical and build personal power from the inside out:0
A brilliant example of collaborative leadership in action is illustrated in an article I read in yesterday’s Sunday Business Section of the Chicago Tribune. It is entitled, “Obama Tech Team Ventures Forward”. “Collaborative Leadership Structure” is an innovation to the traditional hierarchical structure. It is not a style of consensus, yet it has far greater flexibility than the outdated, ‘command-control’ style of leadership commonly seen within hierarchical cultures.
With collaborative structure, there are leaders within the team with traditional titles, like campaign chief technology officer or chief innovation and integration officer – yet there is space for the team members to participate in the process and embrace accountability.
The article focused on the ability of the team to adapt to real-time unexpected situations – like Hurricane Sandy. Within 24 hours, they were able to move their base from the east coast to the west coast – a seemingly impossible task at first glance. Also, detailed attention was given to the user (customer) experience that made for a highly successful and effective campaign outcome. What were some of the things that they did to accomplish this?