It’s an incredible time for business leaders, isn’t it? Sure it’s one characterized by a high level of intensity, uncertainty and adversity at times. However at the same time, we also have access to a growing body of knowledge about how to best deal with this change, how groups of people can best work together, and how organizations can thrive. Whilst many are focusing on developing artificial intelligence, the opportunity is to fully leverage this new knowledge by upgrading our human intelligence.
Much of this new knowledge I refer to is coming via the New Sciences. As part of the work we do to improve organizational effectiveness, we use several science-supported mind-blowing facts that are often met with reactions like ‘Really? Nah, that can’t be right’.
I thought I would share a few of those with you, but first I need to set the scene.
The Heart-Brain Connection
Everyone seems to be talking about the brain. Neuroscience, neuromarketing, neuroleadership, it’s everywhere. But why isn’t anyone talking about the heart? Within the business world, it seems to be a fluffy topic that warrants zero attention because…well… it is really just a pump right? Not really. What if I told you that the heart influences your creativity, decision making and your mental clarity!
The Heart Brain (source: Science of the Heart Volume 2 p. 5; https://www.heartmath.org/resources/downloads/science-of-the-heart/)
In fetal development, the heart forms and starts beating before the brain is developed! In fact, the heart has a complex neural network extensive enough to be described as a ‘brain on the heart’. This ‘heart-brain’ (as it has been coined) can act independently of the cranial brain, has both short and long-term memory, can remember, learn, feel, sense and even make decisions! This explains the change in preferences and tastes of heart transplant patients towards those associated with their donor. Check out the Heartmath Institute to learn more.
Our Hear Rhythm Patterns Affects Mental Performance
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the term for normal, naturally occurring variations or changes in the amount of time between heartbeats. HeartMath has discovered that emotions and thoughts can alter heart-rhythm patterns, which in turn affect the brain. (This is different from heart rate which is the number of beats per minute).
(Source: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart, Deborah Rozman; available:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apK8h1B9UbQ)
Did you know that the heart sends way more information to the brain than the other way around. 90% of the traffic is from heart to brain. When positive feelings are experienced (e.g. care, compassion, courage) the heart rhythm is smooth, ordered, sine-wave like (referred to as a coherent state) and supports improved brain function, decision-making, problem-solving and creativity just to name a few. On the other hand, negative emotions (e.g. anger, fear and anxiety) produces a disordered incoherent pattern, which has been found to inhibit brain function. This is often the result of spending too much time beyond the tipping point of reasonable levels of stress.
What is the business implication? Whilst most already know of the importance of building a constructive workplace culture, it highlights the fact that it needs support from everyone. Unless team members can develop and readily employ the skills necessary to self-regulate their own emotional world, they are negatively influencing their own performance without even knowing it!
We haven’t quite finished with the importance of the heart just yet. What you need to know is that every heart beat emits an electromagnetic field that can be measured 5 feet away! It’s the most powerful rhythmic energy field the body produces.
(Source: Science of the Heart Volume 2 p. 36; https://www.heartmath.org/resources/downloads/science-of-the-heart/)
This field changes according to the thoughts, emotions and state of mind being experienced. We are impacted by the electromagnetic field of others just as others are impacted by us. Both positive and negative emotions are contagious and yes, the science is accurate.
(Source: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart, Deborah Rozman; available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apK8h1B9UbQ)
This is partly why stress-based emotions can spread through a workplace like a virus. Unless individuals have practices in place to self-regulate their own emotional world, their impact on others is problematic.
The business impact is simple. A single person can contribute to, or against, workplace culture without even using words and actions! Crazy right? The good news is that everyone can develop the skills they need to reduce the impact.
Did you know that on average, each of us has around 50-60,000 thoughts per day? According to the research, we spend about 48% of our time in distracted thinking, which is the enemy of creativity, listening, decision-making and meeting deadlines. It points directly to a significant opportunity cost within any workplace.
Thankfully, leading experts in the field of Neuroplasticity have confirmed the positive impact of having a ‘fit mind’, one associated with focus, mental clarity, and increased positive outlook. The even better news is that it is available to anyone willing to work at it.
But here is the real kicker… it is the environment around our bodily cells that determines which DNA functions will be turned on or off. Yes you read that correctly, our DNA can be influenced by our emotions and state of mind! Given that 200 billion cells are replaced every day, emotions influence how these new cells are brought into the world. They have just as much influence (if not more) on your body than nutrition. For more information, refer to the work of Dr Candace Pert and Dr Bruce Lipton). A happy healthy mind = happy healthy cells – the science of Epigenetics proves it.
The business implication of this is that for most organizations, the way in which employee wellbeing is approached may need to be altered if the maximum benefits are to be experienced. Rather than being limited to a few disparate activities (gym membership, meditation class etc), it literally pays to upskill team members so that they can self-regulate their own wellbeing.
Are you willing to embrace what the new sciences have already confirmed?
A workplace which is full of people who can self-regulate represents a core capability that translates into a competitive advantage. Moreover, the ripple effects are significant and include but are not limited to:
- Dealing with adversity and change in a more open and accepting way.
- Better relationships with clients.
- Greater energy and vitality.
- Better decision making.
- Increased levels of creativity and resilience.