How does your brain navigate change?

Change is a process, not an event. 

We live in a world that is constantly changing and growing more complex. It is critical to comprehend the substance of the environment in which we operate. We need to perceive the invention of change as something that should be praised and fostered. Consider change as an opportunity rather than something that must be handled in a prescribed manner.

Perhaps we need to change our language, and instead of using the word change (as it can ignite a threat state or response), we use words such as innovation, growth, or rewiring.

A lot goes on with a change.

A lot goes on with a change in the mind/brain to determine whether the reward is significant enough to engage in the energy-hungry process of changing.

Remember that the brain is a very hungry organ that demands a large amount of energy. It will naturally resist change as it takes cognitive effort and uses up valuable sources of oxygen and glucose. 

The key to change is the judgements we make about whether to take action or not take action based on the sum of risk value + reward value. If we perceive the reward as less than the risk, we are unlikely to engage in change, and the brain will decide it is not worth the effort. 

This is why it is so critical to share the purpose of change or the WHY to support people to see the benefits. Once these benefits are understood, it is easier for the mind/brain to spend large amounts of precious cognitive resources to engage in a change process. Remember, the brain is more wired to detect threat/risk, so the reward/benefits must be perceived as significant or relevant.

In a transition process, dealing with uncertainty is critical to success. During the process of transformation, uncertainty is frequently neglected and underestimated.

With change, some people seem to assume that everything will be okay, and they don’t deal with the uncertainty change can create for others. We need people to feel sure about the purpose, benefits, desired outcomes, steps involved and that it is worth the effort and energy! 

This is where we can use the understanding of neuroscience to work through change management.

Neuroplasticity – creating new neural pathways.

One of my favourite experts on the brain and Neuroplasticity is Dr Norman Doidge. Norman talks about how thoughts can change brain structure. Culture can rewire our brains!

The resilient brain is more sensitive and influenced by technology, including our ability to focus, and our attention span is affected. Neuroplasticity is one of the most exciting discoveries! Learn more from Norman’s short video summary – click here (8:31 mins). 

There once were beliefs that our brains were hard-wired by the time we were adults; we now know that this is not the case. It has been scientifically proven that through Neuroplasticity, we can rewire our brains. 

Neuroplasticity definitionNeuroplasticity includes any process that results in a change in the brain’s structure, circuits, chemical composition, or functions in response to changes in the brain’s environment – Schwartz 2011

Tips that help with embedding new wiring through Neuroplasticity:

  • Learn new things in bite-size digestible chunks – it excites the brain.
  • Celebrate successes and milestones along the journey with those important to you or your team; this helps keep you motivated and committed.
  • Ask insightful questions of those you work with or manage. This allows people to develop creative solutions to obstacles compelling them to own them and take creative action.
  • Focus on the new habit daily – repetition is key to embedding a new practice or skill.
  • Prime the brain for both known and unknown obstacles – mitigating potential risks before it happens.

Why is it important to focus on solutions and not just on the problems?

We often focus too much attention on the problem in the change process.

The more attention we pay to a problem, the more we strengthen the circuitry and connections to the problem. This absolute focus on an issue may lead us to feel stuck.

A far more valuable option is to focus our attention on the solution options. With a complete list of available solutions, we can prioritise these based on our desired outcomes. 

What strategies do you find helpful to navigate change? I would love to hear what works for you.

Recognising the mindset and lens through which you view change is a critical practice. Having strategies that allow you to view daily obstacles differently presents you with an opportunity. 

Would you like to learn how to navigate change yourself or within your organisation? Contact Vannessa @ Link Success. 

I have also written a book, REWIRE for SUCCESS. Please order your copy today; we can do bulk purchase discounts for organisations; send me an email.