Platformation Assumption: Brain Neuroplasticity and Learning Agility
The next assumption that forms part of the leadership literacies platform continues to revolve around what we’re learning about the human brain.
Not only do we have great capacity for compassion, empathy and cooperation as noted in the last post, it turns out that our brains are also more malleable than originally thought—we can change our thoughts and thinking patterns, our habits of mind, all through our lives. We can consciously sculpt the brain with our thoughts and focus.
In an article in 2007 [HOW THE BRAIN IS WIRED, Time Magazine, 01.19.07], science writer Sharon Begley brought these complex scientific findings down to earth for us:
“Something as seemingly insubstantial as a thought can affect the very stuff of the brain, altering neuronal connections in many directions.”
She said that the brain’s structure reflects the lives we have led. We can do “mind sculpting”--we can sculpt the brain with our thoughts. If we change our thoughts, we change our brains. That shows that we are capable of continued learning, of reframing our beliefs, throughout our lives.
My father used to tell me, when we disagreed about the state of the world and our views of it, that he was too old to change and to shift what he had always thought was true. But he wasn’t. Before he died, he had let go of so many limiting ideas, assumptions and beliefs that had informed his behavior throughout his life. He was a different person to be with, and much of this occurred when he was in his eighties.
So, we do have the capacity for something very needed in times of great change--Learning Agility--learning, unlearning and relearning; the conscious ability to let go of what we thought we knew and embrace new ways.
Our learning agility is enhanced in a cooperative sphere. Developmental psychology tells us that our minds only develop in relationship to other minds. We co-create our reality and our world together. Our minds are actually fields that constantly interact with each other to create larger social fields and shifting social realities.
How is this important for leaders to know something about? When organizations are being called on to deal with new developments, new markets, and new technologies everyday, what systems and processes best provide environments where we can think newly together, innovate, create, and reshape what we know and believe?