Why is it TRUE?

I was in a meeting last week running through a demo of our behaviour change tracking software and was asked where my notebook wall-paper image was from. Its Ethiopia, the Simien Mountains located in the East African Rift, a truly stunning place. I was then asked about the caption on the image.

As a behaviouralist and researcher pretty much everything I do with work, involves assisting businesses with understanding, improving, changing or modifying people behaviours in some way or other. I believe it is up to me to practice what I preach, hence the caption as background on all my devices. Continuing on from my previous post about taking control of our attitudes, this caption is a very powerful tool in being able to actually do so.

We know that in excessive of 60% of everything we do each day is an automatic habit, and that as life gets busier more things are being ‘pushed’ to habits, because Busy Brain Syndrome continues to relentlessly erode our brain bandwidth. Whilst we intellectually understand that we do have control over our attitudes, most of time (90%) we actually have no conscious cognizance of our attitudes and prevailing beliefs. We put ourselves in DRIVE and off we go.

Our underlying attitudes and beliefs determine the way we see the world, and the way we react to ‘every‘ situation and person we come across – period.

The reality is that for the majority of people, these underlying attitudes and beliefs are not even their own. They have been acquired through family, school, friends, work, media, literature, culture and a whole host of other influences. If we examine disagreements from simple things such as attending a family function to global conflicts, what underpins each side of these disagreements is a belief or attitude that is emphatically ‘true’ for each side.

Negotiators skills lie in breaking down these concrete ‘truths’ that people hold to various extents, so that a new perspective or ‘truth’ can be applied by each party to resolve the conflict or disagreement. The caption above facilitates ‘being’ your own negotiator at all times. through being mindful of what ‘your’ truths are in any given situation.

I find that the most challenging aspect of this process is to actually be mindful or aware, of how we think and behave in any situation. Are we actually being ‘open minded’, objective, really listening and understanding the countless situations we find ourselves in from day to day? Or are we in DRIVE and operating on what we subconsciously believe to be TRUE?

Breaking a habit is hard because of the nature of habits – they are unconscious. The fact that I have this caption on my device (s) wall paper/background means I am subliminally programming myself over and over to be aware and pay attention with all interactions with people, and situations I find myself in. In effect, this causes me to stop and think rather than ‘just reacting’.

By not ‘assuming’ anything to be true, means that you can truly have an open mind. This is not to say that we don’t have preferences and preferred experiences, we do. However when we ask the question why is this true?’ we are much more likely to open our minds, rather than unintentionally, blindly reacting to people and things with closed minds.

This is most liberating as the problem with ‘truths’ is that people tend to become boiling mad when ‘someone or something’ transgresses’ their truth, and the media is littered with such stories on a daily basis. I would hazard a guess that the majority of ‘behavioural issues’ within organisations also have ‘concrete’ individual truths’ at their core.

There is a place for ‘truth and beliefs’ however, if we actually paid more attention to how much these ‘truths’ drive our behaviours, and behave with integrity and respect at all times, then we would all get along a bit better.

The One thing that really matters with each New Year

surrealistic picture of an apple reflecting in the mirror

New Year is an extraordinary time – it is almost like we all get permission slips to be authentic, open and full of hope, and we take to that hope with what seems like more vigor each year.

What usually happens next is an acceleration back down the slippery slope to mediocrity, thoughts of “I really wanted things to be different this year” and feelings of inadequacy as we humans are hard task masters upon ourselves.

So what is the ONE thing that matters – I could peddle out a usual ‘clique’ like be nicer to others and blah blah blah. But that stuff doesn’t even get to go in one ear and out the other any more. As much as we like to think it does – it doesn’t. If if did then life would be different.

What matters is that you have full control over your attitudes. Hope is not a productive attitude as too often it is associated with passivity. When Barack Obama became president there was much rejoicing, now things will change as we have a black, liberal, caring man as president of the US. And the potential was absolutely there for real change however, what happened was this.

The populace treated his presidency like attending a glorious show that was acclaimed to be one of the greatest shows to come to town. They took their seats and became passive spectators – over to you Barack. They took on the attitude of hope and with it passivity – its up to you to change things for us. How could one man effectively change anything when the populace checkout from getting involved and doing their bit, both in deed and attitude. As it transpired, it was not long before Barack was condemned for not doing enough, of ’empty promises’ the populace were outraged.

When you examine your attitude this New Year, dig deep to see what is really going on. Do you believe that you can achieve those desires that naturally flood in with a New Year and that lovely sense of a ‘tabula rasa’? Are you really committed to succeeding with those changes you dream about? Or is your underlying attitude that of a passivist – why bother it won’t happen, because it has always failed in the past.

The insidious thing is that this underlying attitude which drives passivity, has become a habit for most people. No one intends to fail or give up on the ideas that are alive and real at this time, the hope that things are going to be better this year. But the insidious nature and resistence of habits means it won’t be long before people are back to the grind and feeling despondent. Then comes the justification for the ‘failure’ and cynicism is more deeply embedded.

Changing attitudes is incredibly difficult and it takes a huge effort to change an attitude. If there is any time of the year when success with changing attitudes is optimal, it is now as the possibility of actually succeeding is given a massive shot in the arm. So the only thing that does matter this New Year is the effort you put into minding and managing your attitudes. Your attitudes translate directly to your experience of life

Time to throw out the crystal ball

I enjoy reading HBR article’s and find that the majority are well written, the point argued with relevant and compelling examples and case study’s, leaving the reader feeling as though they have something to take away from the investment of their time reading the article. However, sometimes there are headlines that catch your attention and you look forward to what promises to be some enlightened wisdom, yet are sadly disappointed. In some cases the advice is self-serving for the author with no semblance of relativity to the real world, as was the case with an article regarding leaders and decision making I read recently.

Decision making in the modern day business has changed as much as technology over the past decade and a half. This article would never have been published if it was a tech article in a tech publication, as it was pretty much saying that the analogue phone is the best communication device to meet modern demands.

However, to cut the author some slack this line is a bit of a clue as to where collective thinking still is with decision making:

“In today’s complex, fluid, interdependent world, none of us can predict the future with total accuracy”

None of us can predict the future with total accuracy?

Isn’t the very nature of uncertainty – unpredictability?

I was floored with this statement and realised that we have a long way to go in getting ‘comfortable’ with uncertainly. We are still so entrenched in industrial age thinking with business decision making and how it should work. In the industrial age things moved slowly and tried and tested methods of ‘predicting’ likely scenario’s with market and customer behaviours usually worked a treat to ‘assure’ business decision makers that they would ‘get it right’. Not so now, nor for the past 10+ years – so why on earth are we still finding ‘advice’ in one of the most reputable business journals globally, straight out of the ‘olden days’. I worked through the ‘baby bathwater’ thing with this article thinking perhaps there are some ageless gems in here, sadly lacking.

The other thing is that we still think far too long term with decisions – another relic of the industrial age, that is still stuck in the business psyche. Getting back to the obvious in our VUCA world – compromised ‘future predictability’ – why is it we seemingly deny this and continually ‘fight for certainty’?

So how do we get more comfortable with uncertainty?

We have to change our expectations, get rid fear of getting it wrong, and find a new way. Changing expectations is the easy part – face reality. We all know that in a customer driven world the ‘control baton’ is no longer in the hands of businesses – this is not such a scary concept. Fear of getting it wrong – this is another relic of industrial age business structures and thinking where people were ‘engaged’ on a time based model with outputs to be achieved and failure to do so was met with punitive measures meant to control and standardise output. How to overcome this? Shift to output based work practices which will radically reduce error rates by default.

The second part of ‘fear of getting it wrong’ permeates the cultures of most of our organisations – from workers at the front line to top decision makers, and requires a whole new way of thinking and behaving. Fear of getting it wrong at its core is a desire to be ‘in control’ – a natural and instinctive human behaviour. The irony is that this ‘fear feeds itself’ and the more things speed up and become uncertain, the ‘reaction’ is fear largely of loss of control (primal animal thing – that BTW, we humans are). Decision making is compromised as we are not designed to make decision’s when in fear mode. Not only are we likely to make ‘reactive decisions’, but the process of decision making is stalled in the fear state’ – think of the rabbit in the headlights of the car – they freeze.

The learned gentleman who wrote the HRB article suggested his 20+ year old formula or ‘script’ was the panacea for making decisions when under pressure. There is an absence of ‘cognition’ and rational thinking in the fear/pressured state, so an industrial age ‘script’ is like handing a person having a heart attack a book about healthy living – won’t work so well. To deal with the ‘fear’ and pressure – again two things. The first is to ‘let go’ of this unrealistic, redundant need to have control over the future. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow or next week or next year. This will do incredible things to our mental mind state. People will be free and relaxed with open flowing minds.

This leads me to part two – when are minds are ‘free, aware and open’ we can make decisions and moreover they will be good decisions, the best for the moment. A remarkable thing occurs when our mindspace is freed up. We engage our whole intelligence, we see what is in front of us, we evaluate it from our past experiences and learning’s, we compare it to new things we may have read about or heard about (they do get stored), and we make an informed, intelligent and the most accurate decision for that moment.

The irony is that the world moves so fast and the scenario where that decision was made will most likely change within a short period of time. So the decision is adjusted and adapted to meet this new scenario – and it will be the right for a short time only, until the next change occurs.

This type of thinking and decision making is for want of a better term ‘just in time’ decision making – where the decision is made for now, with full knowledge that there will need to be an adjustment really soon as things move in our fluid world. This process works a treat with the right ‘people data’ systems in place – the right information at the right time to know what to do.

Status Quo – what is it?

Status Quo is a Latin phrase and means the current situation, the way things are now and refers to ‘wanting to keep things the way they are’.

Status Quo is a misunderstood concept and is used increasingly as a means for individuals, teams, organisations and communities to stay put – in ‘safe territory’.

How safe is that territory of the ‘past’ when the gulf between it and the ever moving ‘existing present’ is getting wider?

It’s not, rather this gulf causes increased angst and discomfort and is a prime contributor to poor workplace and other social behaviours, that sadly are increasing. This is due to the difficulty people have navigating what they do each day whilst clinging to a past reality. They cling to the ‘status quo’ in the first place because of ‘fear’ of the unknown.

The unknown is the basis of life – why is it that we humans are so obsessed with predictability and control? That is simple – survival, which in and of itself it has enabled us to get to this point in our evolution. The past 15 years or so has put a ‘spanner in the works’ because the speed of change has increase exponentially. This has resulted in our former ‘predictive and control’ mechanisms failing and continually failing as we ‘expect’ to be able to ‘safely predict the future to  assure us that our decisions will be ‘right’. We are terrified of ‘getting it wrong’ as that is synonymous with failure.

This is the real driver of ‘a desire to cling to the status quo’, to stay in a position of not having to step out on the ledge so to speak, and ‘risk failure’.

If we take a helicopter view of these behaviours we can see that it can only, and ‘does’, end in tears. Resisting moving with the present and attempting to make decisions with current information whilst clinging to a past state and mindset, is 100% likely to result in actions that are not fit for present or future purpose. This will also by default result in considerable anxiety and other behaviours that we see all to often currently – justification, shifting of responsibility and other ‘back pedaling’ behaviours where people try to make something quite wrong, ‘right’.

If we could shift our mindset and expectations of  ‘status quo’ to what it actually does mean, we would feel a whole lot better and just get on with it. The current ‘status quo’ or the ‘current situation’ in our world June 2016  is ‘accelerating change and continual movement’. So if we shifted our mindset and understanding of status quo being continually riding the wave of life as it moves onward at a fast pace, then we would not expect to be able to ‘predict and control our decisions as we were able to in times gone by.

We need to let go of that ‘fairy tale’, make decisions and take action for now. We have the past and our experience of it, in our kit bag to aid our decision making. There is a huge difference between making decisions and taking action based in a past mindset, and making informed decisions in response to current reality with the aid of past experiences, that may or may not be relevant. This is the current Status Quo.

I’m too busy to change

eally? What are you ‘busy’ doing? This is a question that high achievers, successful entrepreneurs, sports stars and the like don’t even have to ask themselves – and is the reason they are successful. For them change is something they do every day and it is an expectation that they continually need to adapt to presenting circumstances in order to maintain success. This group is definitely the minority and for the rest of us change can seem to ‘get in the way of our busyness’.

The average person spends at least half their time at work being distracted or recovering from distraction. This is a complete productivity and efficiency ‘killer’, as most people don’t fully recover from distraction and get back to the ‘train of thought’ they were on before they were distracted. This further exacerbates the ‘busyness’ problem because the work we produce whilst being constantly distracted is never our best. This is very unsatisfying as most people have high standards for their own work. Distraction means it takes longer to complete work because when people are not happy with their output, they continually make modifications hoping to make something they know is not their best work, look better.

Being busy recovering from distraction and patching up work that we know is not our best because the deadline is looming, is not being efficient.  We associate busyness with activity, and we tend to think that the more active people are the busier they are, and that they are efficient. Busyness is not proportional to efficiency by any stretch of the imagination, and the reality is that those people who ‘are frenetic’ at work, are in fact the least efficient people.  Ironically, ‘inefficiency’ is what drives change in the first place, as change in organisations is driven by the need to improve output and efficiency. So therefore when confronted with the need to ‘change’ people who are too busy, are ‘actually busy’ recovering from distraction which caused the inefficiency, which has effected the need for change.

An excellent strategy to overcome this objection to ‘change’ is to ask the question – what am I ‘busy’ doing, and am I being efficient?  If people get into the habit of asking themselves this question everyday (in particular, when they notice they are being distracted), they will find two things occur. They will realise that they are not in fact being efficient whilst being distracted, and more importantly they will begin to get ‘control’ over distraction, because learning to ask this question brings it to ‘top of mind’.

Will they be too busy to change? If they learn to take control over distraction – then chances are the need for ‘change’ will become redundant.

Unpacking RESISTANCE to Workplace Change

The age of unpredictability or our VUCA – Volotile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous – marketplace of incessant ‘disruption’ is alien to the way we are programmed to behave at work and get things done. You don’t have to be a Neuroscientist to work that out.

I am not interested in revisiting this ‘problem’ as I don’t see it as a problem – in fact I don’t SEE anything as a problem – merely a distortion, which in effect is  identifying a need to adjust or adapt. Everything I do with my work I framed this way – eventually. When I meet with clients I first have to engage in the ‘problem’ discussion – and luckily for me most of my clients are leading edge thinkers and also ‘see’ that the problem is a distortion highlighting the requirement to make an adjustment. However they have peers and managers who generally see things more as a problem and have passed this to my contacts to solve, and together we do.

What our VUCA world has done is taken away ‘time’. We used to be able to deal with things and work through ‘problems’ in the past much more easily than we can today because we had time to think things through. Now we don’t, as the level of demands placed on us to ‘do things’ in any one moment are ridiculous. Do we take a step back from these demands and calmly work through each demand at a time? NO. We revert to habit and our programming when faced with a request to do something at work – and respond, or attempt to respond, which simply fails – period.

You see the problem is not the amount of stuff, or the VUCA world, or the disruption or anything external to us – it never is. The problem is how ‘we react and ‘perceive’ the situation. We are programmed to ‘respond’ and attend to requests or things that come our way. You can probably see why email has been demonised so much – it is once again not the ’email’ that is the ‘problem’ – it is the CC’ing in of people and other practices where ’email requests’ are not requests at all but rather noise – but to our ever vigilant habit of responding – we can’t help ourselves but to perceive these as requests for our attention.

What has happened as a result of failing to adjust and adapt our ingrained ‘way of working habits’ years and years ago, is that new stuff that comes on to our horizon incessantly, is put into the OMG more things to do bucket. Change is on the top of the OMG list because not only is there an expectation to respond – but an expectation or even a demand to change the way we do something. What is required is a shift or adjustment in how people work that is aligned to a VUCA world rather than reverting to habits that no longer work. This is a major factor contributing to the root cause of resistance to change. We will look at more factors contributing to change ‘resistance’ next time.

We live and work in a two speed world

We live and work in a two speed world: Digital Technology Speed – speed of light (≈3.00×108 m/s); and Analogue Human Information Processing Speed – one thing at a time (0.050-0.01 m/s). Why is it that this is such a challenging concept for us to get?

The thing most people ask me about more than anything else brain related is the usefulness of ‘brain training’. The reason people ask me about this is there seems to be a new ‘paranoia’ concerning ‘dementia’ being touted as the newest condition that one is doomed to be afflicted with.

If we examine how the advent of technology has changed the way we live and work, there is one factor that has had the most impact, yet this factor is largely unknown or ignored. Technology is wonderful with new gadgetry and the speed of ‘tech capability’ having made so many things easier and more convenient, both in our lives generally and at work. However there is a huge downside to the speed of technology, in particular the radical change the speed of information transfer has had on our brain.

We all know about overload and too much information and there is even an International Day of Information Overload day. We know how much information or ‘stuff’ as I like to call it is produced each day – an insane amount. That in and of itself, is not the problem. The problem is the resulting ‘demand’ to DO SOMETHING with the inordinate amount and speed at which this ‘stuff’ comes at us each day.

Let’s unpack this a bit further. Prior to the tech age, workplaces had the telephone, fax machine and snail mail. Stuff would be passed around at a slow rate (analogue), and therefore the ‘demands on us to do something with the ‘stuff’ was minimal. Now what is the single biggest thing people complain about at work? Email. Email is not the direct problem, rather the speed at which emails come at us, the way we react to them and try to deal with their demands simultaneously, IS the problem.

This demanding expectation we place upon ourselves equates to the single biggest contributor to overload, stress, anxiety, overwhelm and all the rest of the reactionary states, conditions, poor relationships, blame cultures we see in our workplaces.

Digital technology, email and other ‘social messaging’ is transferred instantly or the ‘speed of light’ essentially. We like this convenience on the one hand, but know that it is slowing sending us ‘bonkas’ on the other hand, because we never seem to get things done or finished – hence the paranoia about ‘going mad’ and dementia (that is for another day).

So why does this digital speed make us feel so hideous, and why is it so difficult to deal with the demands of email and other stuff coming at us? The answer is simple – the human brain can only process at a speed of 50 – 100 milliseconds. Comparing the human brain processing speed to digital speed of information transfer is like comparing a human brain to a single cell amoeba.

Interestingly the human brain information processing capability is the same as pretty much all other animals on the planet. Information processing occurs in the ‘survival’ part of the brain, the purpose of which is for survival so that we and other species are not wiped out. Perhaps the most critical thing about this survival part of our brain is that it is ‘unconscious’ and therefore we have no idea what is going on ‘consciously’.

Getting back to the point of this post – and why people ask me about ‘brain training effectiveness’ – they ask because they are experience the ‘side effects’ of the gross misalignment between digital processing speed and human information processing speed. They are ‘ON’ all the time, have difficulty being able to focus or concentrate, experience varying levels of anxiety,  are forgetful, short tempered, fatigued, have difficulty changing behaviours and habits and perceive that everyone else seems to be more ‘together’ than they are.

All of these symptoms are ‘caused’ by the grossly misaligned speed of technology and human processing indirectly. They are directly caused by the way we “REACT” to the speed of stuff coming at us and our ‘rediculous EXPECTATION to be able to deal with it. WE CAN’T AND NEVER WILL BE ABLE TO

So my response to people is to give them a quick synopsis of this post and learn to get into the ‘zone’, focus’ and learn to ignore the noise. The noise is everything except the ONE thing you are working on in a moment. Thinking logically, I am writing this post now, I have a very long to do list, have to collect children in an hour, start preparing dinner, put the washing out, vacuum and do the bathrooms, how well do you think I would write this if I was thinking about all those other things at the same time? I wouldn’t, it would be rubbish and I would be stressed out.

I am not – and now upon completion will move on to the next thing. We all need to give ourselves a break, understand that ‘brain speed is very different to tech speed and learn how to ‘adapt’ our brain to deal with a tech world.

Productive People Management Systems – Tech solutions for embedding behaviour change using the neuroscience of adapting to thrive in the Age of Technology.

‘Who can we blame – we’ll have an inquiry’!!!!!

“We’ve created a culture where taking responsibility is one of the last sure ways to make a difference. It’s easy to avoid, fraught with anxiety and rarely done, which is precisely why it might be your best available path” – Seth Godin

I don’t know about you but Seth Godin shines a little light in my world each day.  I think that we all need to have our own version of Seth just to cause us to inquire, a tiny bit about the way we think and the rigidity of our beliefs. I completely agree with Seth that we seem to have created a culture where self-responsibility causes intense anxiety – but no wonder because we go after the ‘man’ like a witch hunt – (Shrek comes to mind, got to love the kids movies such great lessons – pity they don’t seem to stick).

Take it from Seth and of course from me as well – not only is self-responsibility your best available path – it is the only path to ‘happiness’, satisfaction contentment’ whatever it is that we are looking for – because hey guess what? you are what you think. If you think that someone else is responsible – then you are never going to control them, and be locked into a world of pain. However, if you decide to take responsibility, you have total control over what you think – and only you can ‘shift’ your thinking. The words of Sir Lawrence Olivier .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWXAiLy786A

P.S. I predict some of you will look up ‘provination’ – add a comment if you do – thanks!!

Factors most likely to increase productivity of people at work

The results are in from the survey we ran in May considering what is key to people productivity in our modern world. Firstly thank you to all everyone who contributed to this small but significant research project. We had over 500 responses and the spread across each of the roles within businesses from Operations through to Continuous Improvement personnel was quite balanced.

The research was seeking to identify from a long list of 17 factors that have been espoused to be silver bullets with increasing the productivity or output of people in the recent past, according to popular and peer reviewed literature.

The findings were a testament to what has always been important with output of people across the ages. They also ring true with the discussion concerning the importance of continuous improvement with humans that I will get back to in time. The results support the fact that humans are hard wired so to speak, to continually move forward and strive to improve themselves.

The factor to be rated the most important to people productivity with 9.2 / 10 was Leaders Walking the Talk. Human history is littered with conquests and empires being built and collapsing – in each case these empires and conquests were led by people who displayed ‘walking the talk’ and people followed them.

In businesses today leaders who ‘walk the talk’ will succeed in inspiring people to follow them and perform as best they can.

Second position was shared equally with a score of 8.8 / 10 by Having a Sense of Purpose at Work, and Feeling Valued at Work. Again this is no real surprise and stands to reason with the first belief that leaders who walk the talk are aspirational and will by default inspire a sense of purpose in those they lead. A leader walking the talk who inspires ‘purpose’ will also give a sense of being valued to people.

These findings are fundamental human values and we believe these results indicate that no matter what changes in the environment – our fast pace busy world and lives – we still hold that the central tenant of our humanness; being led, with a purpose and being valued is motivating and makes us want to achieve.

Of interest the factor at the bottom of the 17 was Encouragement of Career Advancement. What are your thoughts about that?

Urgent (Reacting) Vs Important (In control)

The urgent important matrix is an oldie but a goodie and is originally credited to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a pragmatist who was in control of his reactions. It is an excellent tool for each and everyone of us to add to our kit bag of strategies to deal with our world of overload and feeling overwhelmed. As I pointed out in a previous post it is ‘people’s hard wired reaction’ to respond to requests to do something either at work or outside work that causes the feelings of overwhelm, rather than the communication tool or app i.e. email, ‘Slack’, social media or whatever tool people use. This brings me to another oldie but goodie ‘The Serenity Prayer’ which at its essence reminds us that we can only change ourselves, i.e. our attitudes, beliefs and by default our ‘reactions’. If I had a $1 for every time I heard someone say – he/she/it/them/they “did this to me” then I would be extremely wealthy.

Whilst we may intellectually ‘know’ these things and I am sure most people have been introduced to the ‘urgent/important matrix at some point in their development at work and the serenity concept with one of those ‘inspirational’ videos or images that do the rounds, most of us don’t apply them. If we applied the wisdom of the Urgent/Importance Matrix to our daily lives; we would be in in control of the ‘high urgent and high important stuff'; vigilant about not letting the  low importance and high urgent quadrant (other people and outside things) get to us, dump the low urgent and low importance stuff, and be mostly focused on the high important and low urgent stuff, because that is what really matters.

This is not through lack of intent or lack of knowing what we ‘should do’ to be effective, and by default feel good about our efforts. It is simple because of brain overload. Why is brain overload the problem?

Brain overload in its simplest form means that ‘brain energy or brain resources’ are stretched beyond their capacity. This is due to too much stuff to process and too many cognitive (thinking) demands at the same time, which makes us feel anxious and overwhelmed because we naturally ‘want to respond’.  This pushes the brain into a state of  energy depletion and we feel out of control because we know it is impossible to ‘respond to more than one thing at a time’.  A simple analogy is a car with worn or misfiring spark plugs which reduces the amount of energy (fuel) available and therefore the performance of the car deteriorates. The brain is the same, it is a ‘system’ that requires a certain amount of energy to perform at its optimum. Just think about how well you perform when you are tired – not too well, and it is brain energy depletion that drives fatigue for people in sedentary roles rather than ‘body or muscle’ fatigue.

So what happens when the brain is stretched beyond its processing capacity or beyond the ‘available energy? It tries to compensate by taking short cuts, and the first thing it cuts out is the parts of the brain that take the most energy. These bits are the ‘smart bits’ the bits that make good decisions, the planning and organising bits, the memory of how similar things worked out in the past, the urgent important matrix. What does that leave? The basic bits, the reactionary bits, the low hanging fruit, like what we did before or last time we were in this situation – the habits and automatic reactionary behaviours.

How do we ‘stop this reacting so that we can access the wisdom of the urgent / important matrix and ‘knowing’ what we can change in the midst of too much stuff? We have to become aware of our own behaviours and reactions, and it is up to us. The irony is that brain overload has made this incredibly simple concept extremely difficult. Who would imagine that being aware of our own ‘reactions’ would be so hard to control.