The brain is firmly on our radar. Not only did Brain scientist Dr Jill Bolte-Taylor open the Better-by-Design summit last week, but it is the New Zealand Neurological Foundation’s Brain Awareness week.
Dr Jill Bolte-Taylor’s inspirational and courageous journey of recovery after a debilitating stroke proved that older is not less functional, injured is not ‘out’ and experience (plus belief and support of those around you) counts most when the chips are down. But ‘the extraordinary’ can take time. Nature generally doesn’t work to deadlines.
Her experienced, well-myelinated brain (after years of gradual hooking up of millions of valuable cross-referencing connections) watched on as she experienced a traumatic stroke-induced brain injury. This left her with no language – an inability to communicate with the outside world and unable to process any logical thought. Her persistence with brain exercises supported by a devoted team – her mum front and centre on this team – provided the perfect conditions for neurogenesis. She re-grew her brainware and reconnected what had been lost.
Yes, we do really control and determine what happens inside our brain-body. She now considers herself fully recovered, but it took 8 years.
Imagine if someone ignorant had convinced her it couldn’t be done just because it never had. And imagine if that ignorant person was wearing a white coat. Fortunately, as she was ‘a white coat’ herself, that would not have fazed her. Many of us are still susceptible to the power (suggestion) of a medical diagnosis and its debilitating effect on our subconscious. Is there any expert, conventionally-educated, who would have believed she could recover fully?
How many of us, for that matter, really believed the New Zealand Black Caps could make it through to the finals of the ICC World Cup? While these two events may seem unrelated, what is common to both is an organ that creates the ‘impossible’, even while those who doubt are saying ‘it can’t be done.’
Yet here we are in the ICC finals due to numerous factors such as experience, expertise, new and fresh blood, persistence, belief, hope and aspiration. (Plus a nurturing, plugged-in and supportive coaching/management/sponsorship team – like the glial cells in the brain that are there to provide the active cells with what they need to perform as required.)
Behind all extraordinary achievement lies a snapping, crackling, popping human brain – the most complex protoplasm in the universe. A hundred billion nerve cells capable of far more connections (allowing rich thought-traffic) than we currently have and use (possibly due to years of wasted opportunity and/or stress), and capable, even with the modest brain network we currently use, of creating what does not currently exist in the world.
This gives a glimpse of the untapped potential that lies within every business. While the complete rebooting of her brain took Jill Bolte-Taylor 8 years, managers tell me they have completely changed their way of thinking inside 8 weeks, to the benefit of their performance, their relationships and their results.
Simply put, no business can perform to potential without harnessing the collective genius of the brains on the payroll.
The conditions for super-performance are simple and consistent:
- A compelling desire to succeed (or stretch for something….even mere curiosity)
(Well-articulated and most importantly, SHARED, vision)
- A positive belief that success is possible
(Leaders who believe in people – their capability, talent and potential)
- An emotionally-safe setting i.e. the opposite of fight/flight stress so that brain power turns away from self-protection and towards self-actualisation
(A partnership – not power-based/hierarchical – approach to every work challenge)
- Daily practice/activity/experience
(Enough daily challenges i.e. ‘business as usual’)
The human brain as a natural (unlimited) resource is the un-mined gold within every business. This is the ultimate competitive edge that lies just beneath the surface of ‘business-as-usual’.