Unconscious behaviours and biases are often at play with interpreting perceptions and driving our actions. Many of our behaviours in the workplace and elsewhere are motivated by unconscious triggers and emotions.

These behaviours, however, can be prevented by making conscious choices that tap into our subconscious thinking.

The things that represent our conscious awareness are simply “the tip of the iceberg.” The rest of the information that is outside of conscious awareness lies below the surface and influences our behaviour and emotions.

Why is change seen as the new ‘norm’?

We operate in a world that doesn’t stand still and is becoming increasingly complex in the Wisdom Age (aka Intelligence Age). Numerous business leaders have commented that change is becoming the norm in our day-to-day lives.

Common business challenges:

  • Managing changing priorities
  • Dealing with organisational restructures
  • Pressure to reduce costs whilst hit revenue targets
  • Information overload
  • Limited resources
  • Short timeframe to make decisions and deliver ROI
  • Learning new technology at a rapid pace
  • Constant distractions

‘There’s a disconnect between what neuroscience knows and what business does. It is becoming challenging to do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow’ (Dan Pink)It is important to understand the context of the environment that we are operating in. Business survival and growth rest on the ability of a business to innovate, deliver exceptional customer service and offer products and/or services at a competitive price. Leaders and employees both need to see innovation as valued and encouraged; to perceive and welcome change as an opportunity as opposed to something that needs to be managed in prescriptive ways (growth mindset). People haven’t adapted well to this increasing complexity, as organisations are still relying on tried-and-tested models of learning analysis which is increasing the amounts of stress and anxieties we are experiencing.

In summary: The link between change being the norm, and the common business challenges faced is that people exhibit certain behaviours due to their discomfort with change! The great news is we have the ability to change those behaviours with the discovery of neuroplasticity.

How can the latest findings in Neuroscience help us adapt to changing environments?

Here are some practical tips for using the latest scientific findings in a Learning & Development setting.

Self-Leadership Development

 As you strive to constantly deliver for your organisation or clients, it can be challenging to find the time to focus on your own self-development. To fully embrace new ideas, insights and research, you need to make time to focus on developing yourself before leading and developing others. Be clear with your manager and your team that you want to develop your knowledge of, and expertise in, new and emerging insights in particular areas and set clear goals.


One of the most interesting findings from Neuroscience is the idea that our brain is ‘plastic’ and has the ability to change, adapt, reorganise and adjust responses to new situations or to make changes in your environment, by forming new neural connections throughout your life. This means that learning can be acquired at any time or age! There is hope for us all!

Click here for a short 2-minute video that explains neuroplasticity in a simple and engaging way!

‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’  (Alvin Toffler)

Rewiring Habits using Neuroplasticity

First, habits develop when people repeatedly give the same response in a specific context, and thereby form memory associations between the response and recurring context cues. Your brain is an energy-hungry resource like a battery that runs out unless you know how to refill it throughout the day and night (quality & quantity of sleep + diet and water intake). This is one of the reasons we don’t initially like change because it takes up a lot of energy and focus which can be draining – like when you first learnt how to drive a car or when you are learning a new job role that you haven’t done before.

A framework for changing habits

How to break habits

(from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg) Click here to watch a short video!

Questions you can ask yourself and others:

  • What’s the cue for the behaviour or habit?
  • What’s the reward? (Tip: look at tapping into intrinsic rewards)
  • Identify the cue. There can be many common cues to consider, like location –  where it occurs, time of day, emotional state of mind (stress), other people (conformity) and action.
  • After a few days of tracking, what are your key learnings and insights?
  • Create a plan, gain support from those around you and set up alarm reminders if required.
  • Don’t be disheartened if you have set-backs – the key is planning the setbacks and getting back onto the plan. Focus your attention on the new behaviour and habit! Please be aware: your previous habits weaken over time, although they don’t disappear.

Time for a run If you suggest going for a run in the middle of a workday, you might be met with dismayed faces. However, research shows that exercise can actually improve retention. This is one area that has definitely gained traction within organisations.

However, neuroscientists suggest that not all exercise is equal. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise (designed to raise the heart rate and deep breathing) is effective. If you organise work exercise programs (and have willing participants), perhaps try incorporating exercise during the work-day. If your time is more limited, a quick burst of activity can also boost some brain functions – for example, walk meeting-participants around the block! Exercise is great at relieving stress – it provides a dose of dopamine (our natural happy brain drug) and an increase in oxygen helps recharge our prefrontal cortex (our conscious brain, responsible for executive function thinking).

What are the other key considerations for success in times of change or innovation?

  1. Drivers of behaviour that SCARE your brain including exploring how to create physiological safety in times of change and ambiguity.
  2. Manage emotions in the workplace
  3. Overcome frazzle and stress
  4. Surviving and thriving in the age of distraction
  5. How to improve your productivity, performance and focus
  6. How to cultivate a growth mindset
  7. Tapping into increasing insight (the home of innovation)
  8. The value of a good night’s sleep
  9. Diet/energy that helps fuel your brain’s energy source