New Science of Brain

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It is almost funny to think that our brains are plastic. The old idea was that brains are hard-wired to the extent that the only thing that happens really after adulteration  is that they start slowly to decay.  

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Today we are much wiser on this. We know brains are developing constantly. After reading this blog your brains will be different. The neuroplasticity of the brains help us to understand that we can actually do a lot to our brains, just with sheer mental focus. As we take in new information, our brains start to make new connections between neurons, which are the cells of the brain. This sort of rewiring just happens to us or we can actually take the lead here and start actually to manage our brain.

This sounds as it is from science fiction but actually this is a new but already established field of science, called neuroscience leadership. It is really no surprise that central forces around this new field of investigation come from California. Jeffrey Schwartz , a psychiatrist in the School of Medicine at the University of California is one of the leading figures in this field. He convinces us that the potential of training our brain to work better are enormous.

Let us figure out how this may happen in a real world. Let’s imagine for a while: here I am, 58 years old CEO of the small company that I founded 30 years ago. In the course of the last years my business has not been that great and  some people, especially my daughter, has pointed out that I am not that great listener. Indeed, I more like to convince the others that I am right. So I can’t listen but I do can talk. Now, I realize at some point that this feature of mine might have something to do with the fact that my business is not running that great. And then I heard consultant saying how important it is to really listen your customers.

So I decide to learn how to listen and be silent instead of coming up with my viewpoints.  But in the situation where I should stay in the listening mode I first felt almost irresistible urge to speak up. This is where neuroscience comes in: your brain will push you to follow the old neuron connections. That is, the well-worn and old synapses that are habitual and makes you feel good and comfortable. So their call is very strong, like putting on old but soothing T-shirt when landing home from work.

But you can also choose otherwise. You can resist the urge to talk and remain on the receiving side. It might be difficult in the beginning but the more you practice the easier it gets. You start to develop some new brain grooves. In other words, some new listening synapses, some new neuron connections  are building up in the course of your practice.  After some time, listening start to feel like old T-shirt, comfortable and easy. And now, in every situation, you will have the real choice of which brain path you take depending which fit into situation.

As it seems, the engagement is the key. In learning anything new, brain needs to become a master of the new way and it can only do so if there is sufficient activity. What is interesting is that brain can be trained in the same way as any muscle. There is a classic study of basketball players that spent time imagining successful free throws and improved in a similar way their performance in line with the other guys that were actually practicing shooting.

Neuroleadership seems to be on the rise and there is currently a lot of activity around in terms of conferences and training. And no wonder, it seems to take the rather fragmented science of leadership into a new level by making it more complex and systemic. Understanding how our brain affects our behavior bear far-reaching consequences: by making better use of the fact that our brain is ultimate designed to help us in our social relations, we can start to understand yet in another level why some teams and companies are so successful while other fail miserably. It might all be tractable to our precious operating system, in other words,  our brain.