In the first of a series from our Learning Lab speakers, we interview Jane Mara about her work and research into intuition and the inner workings of the mind. Jane is an author, researcher, management trainer and executive coach applying the power of personal mindset to create success for organisations and individuals. She has contextualised intuitive intelligence into decision-making, resilience strategies for stress management and to develop entrepreneurial thinking.
A new financial year is time to reflect on what is working in our business and what is not. What new trends are to emerge, what do we need to change.
The most important assets are your people who are experiencing change on a daily basis. People are ‘key’ to organisational success. At its heart, all organisations must be responsible for adopting a deeper understanding of what motivates people to succeed and to grow. The increase in our environments of complexity and ambiguity is set to continue. Many organisations focus on improving effectiveness in times of change by changing processes or procedures, not considering the human beings that are implementing the changes. Clearly this way of working is not working! Albert Einstein famously said: “we cannot solve the problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
If we are to succeed in this time of rapid change, we must address and re-balance the reliance on the logical analytical thinking styles so prevalent in business today delivering strategies that allow individuals within organisations to experience greater authenticity and a richer more fulfilling professional and personal experience.
Business leaders are challenged by conflicting needs: people management and the need to deliver shareholder value over the long term in climates where once buoyant businesses are suffering from wavering global credit cycles fueling or lowering demand. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, the organisation’s culture [defined as the way in which we do things around here] has become a key determinant to attract and retain the best people into the business.
In a world where it is possible to work 24/7, with increasing pressure on our relationships, our social capital suffers and diminishes. People are seeking greater meaning in their lives wanting to derive increased satisfaction and meaning from their work. Integration of who we are as human beings with our professional self is critical to leveraging organisational performance and lifting personal satisfaction levels.
Do caveman brains make good decisions?
Neuro-science is providing increased knowledge of how the human brain functions including how we make decisions, the effect of our emotional states, our biological functioning and how our thinking affects individual performance. Positive psychology informs us that ‘happier’ people are less likely to suffer from stress – related conditions and will experience greater satisfaction at work, consistently.
We know that decision-making is not solely rational! It is influenced by both the context of the decision and individual emotional states. 90% of our awareness is unconscious that is, beyond the conscious mind. The unconscious mind drives our behaviors, which are a result of values, beliefs, education, environment, past experience, societal norms which are then filtered by our view of the world in which we live.
It is important to realise that these interpretations are processed by a different part of the brain, the limbic system, where feelings and emotional memories lie. The limbic (feeling) part of the brain, is the part that is in charge of interpretations, conclusions and assumptions and is much faster than the thinking, reasoning part of the brain, the frontal cortex. The feeling part of the brain is very fast and fuel efficient and can easily (and often does) over-ride the logical brain.
When we ask people to change direction or adopt a new process, we are communicating with the limbic part of the brain. If the change is entirely contrary to what has occurred previously, the first response may be to react emotionally, often with fear. Fear, stress and anxiety affect our capacity to make sound decisions and to access our innate intuitive wisdom.
When we are stressed, we engage with our ancient or so called ‘caveman’ brain. Our pre-frontal cortex, the source of our decision-making cuts out, leaves us stranded and responding from our reptilian brain, the part of our brain that dictates whether we flee from a predator or stand and fight!
This primitive brain served us well when the tigers were chasing us; today the tigers come in different guises. When uncertainty and complexity are the norm, with too much or too little information, you default to the primitive part of the brain. The good news is that we now know that the brain is changed by every new experience we have and that the brain does not lose functionality with age. Learning new experiences changes the brain and keeps it fit!
The ability to recognise and manage our own and other peoples’ emotional states is mandatory. This self understanding can be learnt easily and positively impacts on problem solving, decision-making, innovation, creativity, ultimately leading to a significantly improved bottom line. Recognition and acceptance of their own unique capabilities allows people to perform at their highest potential and to increase the organisations profitability.
People who are able to access their full range of inner capabilities by knowing what is occurring for them, in their internal and external environment. Having intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to understand oneself fully and to be able to use this capacity to operate effectively in the world. If we understand our essential human–ness, we can as a consequence understand other people and learn to become more effective leaders and managers.
The conscious leader is one who inspires his or her people to adapt to change readily embracing uncertainty, whilst having a feeling of security and centeredness in the direction the leader is adopting.
Seven Strategies to develop intra-personal intelligence:
1) Listen – actively to other people! Learn to recognise what is said beneath the surface – listen for tonality and consistency of the content being communicated, whether spoken or written. Developing active listening skills provide clues to the true meaning of the communication.
2) Listen – to yourself! Is your inner dialogue one of criticism, blame and guilt? Do you scare yourself with your thinking? Or is your inner dialogue one that supports your goals and objectives? Developing self awareness of our internal dialogue provides a platform to have more positive thinking .
3) Schedule active relaxation and stress reduction as a daily priority. You will have greater clarity and access to higher levels of creativity and intuition with this one step.
4) Delete the words: can’t, don’t and should from your vocabulary! All of these terms when added into a sentence create blame about a situation or person. Adopt personal responsibility for what has occurred.
5) Learn to be present in every situation – whether that is in a meeting or a conversation with another person– be aware of where you are, not where you are not! Too often we live in the past or the future taking little notice of present time which is the only time we have.
6) Listen to your intuition – senior executives rely more on their intuition as they progress up the corporate ladder. Your intuition is a reliable ally particularly in situations of rapid change where complexity and ambiguity exist.
7) Slow down – do you react or respond in a stressful situation? Reaction is fiery uncontrolled, response is more measured.
© This article remains the property of Jane Mara owner of Intuitive Intelligence trademark
Meet Jane in person at the Decision DNA workshop on the 31 August.
Learn how to access your whole brain to make effective decisions, understand what influences you and what your personal decision-making style is.
Tickets are selling fast so be sure to secure your spot.