On Friday 1st July ActionCOACH welcomed Dr Lynda Shaw to the Big Friday Finish. Dr Lynda Shaw is a cognitive neuroscientist, entrepreneur and author of adult and children’s books. As the founder and operator of three successful businesses she understands first-hand how expensive and challenging a workforce can be. After 25 years in the field she now works with organisations to accelerate effective behaviours that lead to business success.

Understanding Neuroscience will contribute to your business success. Forward-thinking leaders understand that behaviour changes your brain and your brain changes your behaviour. Once this is understood then you can identify that everything around you affects the way you behave. This means you have control over your destiny and when used properly it can improve your business,  your life, everything. For instance, a boss who was terrible at communicating is likely to have staff members whose attitudes and approaches will be a reflection of theirs. Those who recognise the failings of the boss are likely to leave altogether. Therefore in business you need to be who you want to be. You can’t fake it to make it. In this context personal development and business development are exactly the same thing.

Perception & Change

The science of perception is fundamental. Everyone’s perception of the world is based entirely on our experiences so far. Therefore perception is unique. If you use empathy and compassion to recognise that other people see things differently from your own then you can adapt and respond to their behaviour accordingly.

Once you understand perception and adapting behaviour then you can change how you respond to others.

From 1-10 how are you at handling change?

Why do we resist change? It’s fundamentally to try to protect ourselves from the unknown. Your brain uses a huge amount of energy to function so tries to conserve energy by defaulting to existing neural pathways. There is also cognitive inertia – we prefer to stay within the familiar to remove any uncertainty.

However. If we don’t stimulate change then we shy away from it. Resisting change isn’t healthy. Ultimately it will result in a loss of confidence and the only way increase confidence is to embrace change.

The Pleasure Umbrella

When stressed or anxious problems start to arise with the over-production of cortisol. In small quantities cortisol is a good thing. It keeps us sharp and upbeat. In chronic secretions it can be extremely harmful, causing high blood pressure and heart disease. Therefore it is unwise to remain in situations that can lead to over production of it. Cortisol also suppresses serotonin which can lead to a lack of appetite and inability to sleep. It also suppresses dopamine leading to a feeling of de-motivation. There is, however, a neural gas which can turn down cortisol production: nitric oxide. Nitric oxide permeates blood vessels extremely quickly, it can be produced through exercise and through eating well but the best way to stimulate it is through pleasure.

One of the best ways to stimulate the production of nitric oxide through pleasure is through three very simple things: kindness, generosity and altruism. Dr Lynda recounted an experience from a number of years ago when she was in London and passed a man asleep on a bench in the park. She walked past him on the way to a meeting, and then again as she went back to her car. Before she got into her car she stopped, turned round, went to the nearest supermarket and bought him a drink and a sandwich which she deposited by his side without waking him. This small, altruistic act of kindness left her feeling incredible and she felt that she performed her work better than ever over the next few days, simply by riding on the nitric oxide wave created by her act of kindness.

It’s important to note, however, that your kindness, generosity and altruism can work against you. Dr Lynda’s final insight was into Toxic Positivity. Have you ever said, or had said to you, the stock response “Oh look on the bright side”? This is an example of toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is the act of negating someone’s feelings by dismissing them with a generic line, or by downplaying their feelings by bulldozing them with your own problems. Everyone wants to feel significant and being listened to but toxic positivity dismisses them.

The Takeaways:

This was an extremely interesting Big Friday Finish; understanding perception and the way you perceive others is fundamental to being able to adapt your behaviour accordingly to ensure as a business owner you are getting the best out of your team. It’s also important to recognise whether you are shying away from change and the damage that could be doing to your confidence. Try making small changes first to test the water and to build your confidence before looking to larger-scale projects. Finally being aware of the power of nitric oxide in promoting your well-being but ensuring that your kindness isn’t actually toxic positivity and that you’re genuinely listening to others, not just playing lip-service.

If you found this Big Friday Finish interesting then they are held every other Friday throughout the year and are free to ActionCOACH clients. Click here to find out more about the next Big Friday Finish and to access recordings of previous speakers.

If you would like to make changes in your business but don’t know where to start then business coaching could be for you. With Natalie you will be able to set manageable goals to work towards the future you see for your business. Contact us to find out more.