Most of us are craving some kind of transformation in our lives. I don’t know any leaders who aren’t eager to become more aware of changes they can make to improve themselves, their teams, and their lives. Once we are clear about the shifts we desire, we can begin taking the steps to make those shifts happen. Ask yourself, “Who are you becoming?”
But real transformation can be hard. We get stuck in old patterns of thinking, of feeling, and of behaving. Even though we want different patterns, we keep falling back into the old ones. This is why we need more than just knowledge and determination.
As a coach, I’m learning in Daniel Siegel‘s book Mindsight as well as other sources about the neuroscience of transformation and how I can leaders with these shifts.
One of the keys to helping others with their transformations is understanding the concept of neuroplasticity.
Basically, what the brain does often, the brain does well. Old and often repeated thought patterns become so efficient for the brain that they can feel automatic, natural, or like they are the only way. Worry, anxiety, biases, eating when stressed, biting nails, not asking for help, avoiding conflict, etc. It can feel so natural that we allow ourselves to express, “That’s just the way I am.” Don’t let this lie of passive acceptance get by under the guise of self-awareness. We are all always changing and shifting how we think, feel, and behave.
Transformation being possible, doesn’t mean that it is easy. It can feel very hard because new patterns are inefficient and may at first seem impossible – “I can’t do it.” But things can change with focus, attention, mindfulness, practice, feedback, and accountability. You can literally rewire your brain to make old patterns inefficient and new patterns second nature.
Eventually (it does take time), what used to be difficult becomes only challenging and then workable and then eventually the new pattern can become second nature.
What old and often repeated patterns do you feel stuck with that you’d like to change?