“My brain is the key that sets me free.” – Harry Houdini
It may seem like magic, but it’s also true: the answer to great leadership may lie in rewiring our brain. This is how any one of us can become the leaders we always hoped we would be.
And it’s not hard to do.
It may take dedicated mental work, yes. But before you know it, you’ll be a witness to your own transformation: what used to feel foreign and unattainable to you will now become part of your natural way of being and doing.
“By focusing on possibilities, you can see more than a potential light at the end of the tunnel. The light doesn’t have to be at the end of the tunnel; it can illuminate an opportunity wherever you are.”
― John B. Arden, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
What We Resist Persists
In other words, whatever it is about ourselves that we’re not wild about as leaders or as humans (which, to us, is the exact same thing), it won’t go away by merely wishing it would.
If only! – lol
Instead, if we really want to develop ourselves as leaders, we need to face reality: to become aware of those parts of us which are not helping our leadership vision and do something about it.
Take a moment of self-awareness to honestly evaluate your mindset and behavior as a leader.
Are there all-too-familiar areas that you know you could get better in, but push out of your mind, thinking that you’ll never overcome them?
And when (not if) these flaws present themselves in the workplace, you overreact, make excuses and bury what has happened?
We’ve all been there. But what point does that serve? It only reinforces the problem.
The old adage ‘whatever you resist – persists,’ is a valid one. Our brains simply follow the paths we’ve set for it throughout life – they’ve become familiar to it.
So instead of pausing to consider the situation, we instantly react,
like the record that automatically drops down in an old jukebox.
Until we choose a new “record” for the old jukebox, that is. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it is oh-so-worth-it!
Science proves you can change the messages you’ve been sending your brain.
How? It’s simple.
All that’s required is a three-step process which we have already delved into in recent articles:
- Become aware of what you want to stand for as a leader and, importantly, .
- Make a choice to work with the intention of having that vision become a reality.
- Commit to a daily practice in small yet consistent ways.
Yes, we can all definitely teach the old dog of our brain new tricks!
Create Certainty in Your Leadership
And this is mostly thanks to neuroplasticity.
In layman’s terms:
Neuroplasticity is the ability of our nervous system to change its connections and structures.
Neuroscientists have long understood this fascinating phenomenon. When we incorporate a little neuroscience into our leadership, it can literally transform our whole lives. It means people can actually change the structure of their brains and form new pathways to teach the brain a new habit.
So those old thought patterns that aren’t serving us any longer? They can be overwritten. Each one of us can rewire our brain to become a more BOLDly impactful leader, and to enjoy a more deeply fulfilling life.
And speaking of BOLDER leadership…Isn’t that exactly what our world needs today?
“The brain is a muscle that can move the world.” – Stephen King
Writing in Inc., Geoffrey James notes that leadership isn’t about the carrot and stick principle (combining rewards and punishment to elicit a desired behavior).
Leadership is about creating a feeling of certainty in those you lead.
Since we mimic the behaviors we see in others, the goal is to create certainty in ourselves first.
As James writes, that’s exactly why successful leaders always appear so self-confident. They’ve created their own sense of security that affects everyone around.
Applying Neuroplasticity in the Workplace
True leadership is one of the toughest skills to find in employees, according to a Global Workforce Leadership survey.
Sometimes we’re unaware of what is holding us back. The answer might lie in our reptilian brain.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein
Our ‘lizard brain” oftentimes stands as a roadblock to greater leadership: when our fight or flight reactions sets in, it stays with us. Our minds reflect back to past and future threats – and we end up in fits of anger, frustration and fear.
And each day, repeated triggering of limiting thoughts etches grooves in the mind – which become deeper. The result is more negativity, panic and self-criticism, in a seemingly endless cycle. Sound familiar?
So how do we avoid this continual, negative playback?
In addition to the three steps mentioned above – Awareness, Choice and Practice – we can cultivate daily practices which help raise our own feel-good level.
Step back and create space. Take time to be apart, engaging in enjoyable activities.
Whether it’s quiet time or a gentle practice like writing in a diary, science has proven that when we experience trust, joy or excitement, our brain cells soften and new, healthier pathways are created.
The practice of mindfulness helps create a space between us – and the chaos of the outside world.
By taking the time and creating the space to foster our own higher-level thinking, we are cultivating trust, joy and excitement in ourselves. And these, in turn, are absorbed by those in the workplace. Employees feel our calm confidence – and this helps to motivate and empower others.
Isn’t it amazing how even a small amount of mental work can transform our leadership from average into extraordinary?
Rewire your brain week after week, when you sign up for our free Weekly Bold Moves right here, delivered fresh to your inbox each Tuesday. Get practical tips and easy-to-implement strategies to step into the best Bolder version of YOU – in leadership & in life.
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As an Executive Coach for Women in Leadership and Transformational Facilitator, my intention is to help leaders in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.