I realized I wanted to be a developmental psychologist before I was 21. It was a life defining moment – we all have them. It’s when I head my mother, and my teacher, and my father all said in the same week, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” Now having everyone say the same thing in the same week is weird in and of itself. Then having them say it in the same week that I in fact did teach my old dog new tricks, was profound and taught me a lesson that has energized my life and given me a primary mission that comes back to a singular focus: helping people embrace change.
Since my earlier years, I’ve learned to change my occupation every other year; one year I wanted to be a doctor, the next a dancer, and the next an artist. I’ve even imagined being a neuro-surgeon, a billionaire, and a president. Today I call myself an Organizational Anthropologist – in part because it’s such a big concept that offers me such room to grow.
You see changing your mindset doesn’t have to cause you psychotic reactions. Just the opposite, it provides your brain, mind, and your energetic system, the nutrients to stimulate new synaptic connections – changing mindsets is a growth-trophic activity. In neuro-sciences the word is called “plasticity” and it’s used to explain how the brain really works.
The adult brain is not "hard-wired" with fixed and immutable neuronal circuits. There are many instances of cortical and subcortical rewiring of neuronal circuits in response to training as well as in response to injury. Decades of research have now shown that substantial changes occur in the lowest neocortical processing areas, and that these changes can profoundly alter the pattern of neuronal activation in response to experience. According to the theory of neuroplasticity, thinking, learning, and acting actually change the brain's functional anatomy from top to bottom, if not also its physical anatomy.
Out With the Old – In With the New
As recent as a few years ago, even neuroscientists thought that genes fixed behavior for life. Toady, with the advent of incredible technologies for seeing inside the brain, seeing inside the cell and being able to map changes, we now know that we need to change our thinking about thinking. “People don’t change” or “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks” or “its nature or nurture” are very, very, very outdated beliefs.
The new truth about human behavior has exhilarating outcomes. We are all born with the ability to change throughout our life, and change takes place at all levels, from the micro-biological to the macro-biological. In fact, and here’s the big thought - our genes are ‘encoded’ to be impacted by the environment – that means that our development is coddled through engagement with the world around us. That is how we grow and change. We interact – we engage – and through that engagement our bodies produce growth serums, hormones and other luscious chemicals that we use to grow.
Life is about change. What gets in the way of this wonderful life long evolution, is the stuff we make up about it; the stuff that gets I the way of us noticing, and feeding, and supporting what we need to change every day. When we stop feeding a plant the nourishment it needs to grow – it dies. In the same way human beings stop growing, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose
Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com
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