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“Biological and neuroscientific reasons why it’s so hard for us to adapt to change and grow constantly… will help us to understand why CHVMPION MIND works.”
Resistance to change is part of our biology, but the ability to overcome it can be strengthened within an adequate structure and the constant creation of efficient, mentally and biologically healthy habits.
When you change your habits, you change your ideas, your way of thinking. When you change your way of thinking, you change your life.
When the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that “the only constant is the change” some 2,500 years ago, he could not imagine the radical pace of change in the 21st century. The current pace of technological development creates exponential change in all areas of our lives, including the way business is conducted. The ability of business leaders to survive – and thrive – correlates directly with their ability to adopt new skills, keep abreast of technological advances and the latest business practices, and adapt to the changing demands of employees and customers.
Adapting to change has always been vital for survival, but before we had more time to adapt. Today adaptation to change has to happen more quickly, and if I don’t adapt, I’m displaced.
How can we be better at accepting change? A relevant concept here is what psychologist Carol Dweck calls “growth mindset” – the belief that a certain attitude or attribute can change as long as we put our mind to it. Dweck calls the opposite way of thinking a “Fixed mindset”.
Of course, people with a generalized growth mentality-who believe in the possibility of change will be more likely to take risks or work for change. The best way to distinguish growth-minded people from fixed-minded peers is to observe their response to failure. The former will be more likely to see setbacks as a challenge to learn from, while the latter will see them as proof of their inadequacy.
Decades of scientific research show that having a growth mentality is an advantage. And yet, for most people, getting out of one’s comfort zone seems more difficult than following Nike’s motto, “Just do it!”. Having a fixed mindset doesn’t mean you can’t train to have a growth mindset, and even those who tend to have a growth mindset sometimes struggle to maintain it in situations that feel challenging or dangerous, in the sense of losing the comfort in which they are.
So why do so many of us find it difficult to invite significant change in our lives? Why are people reluctant to give up unsatisfactory work, start a new business, or even learn a new skill?
Let’s take a look at the obstacles to change.
Why “Just Do It” Doesn’t Always Work
It turns out that much of our resistance to change is determined by our biology. In our brain, the amygdala, a subcortical area of the brain linked to intense emotional arousal, is programmed to detect potential threats and react to them. Part of that reaction is the release of the hormone “Fight or flight”, cortisol.
Note that there is no “go with the flow” option in response to perceived danger.
We are programmed, neuronally speaking, to see the threat as an unacceptable situation.
Of course, not all changes are actually threating. Quite the opposite: As mentioned earlier, some may be necessary for our long-term growth. However, scientific evidence shows that the fewer real threats we are exposed to, the more we tend to interpret unknown stimuli as threatening. Modern society, with all its comforts, can conspire with our nervous system to foster aversion to change. And here a contradiction arises, for our neural networks, on the one hand, we are gaining in comfort because of the advances in our advanced societies, where we can avoid most of the external dangers, and on the other hand, the speed at which changes are beginning to occur, mainly due to technological advances, means that we hardly have time to detect whether they are threats or not. Before knowing if it is a threat, we already have it in our house, like “Alexa” that we allow it to enter our house because we hear from others that it is not a threat, but that in the end, 90% of those who have it, use it for the usual, that is, to listen to music, to know what the weather´s like today, and little more, that we do the same thing that our brain already knows how to do, but now in a different way, when we could do many more things.
Another possible contributing factor is our conditioning, the beliefs, and attitudes towards success, failure and towards ourselves that were typical of the environment in which we grew up. Now ingrained, they often operate at the subconscious level.
While understanding what blocks us is the first step toward success, it is important to devise strategies to “hack” into our biology and conditioning so that we can deliberately lean toward the growth mentality. And just as one goes to school to grow, or as an adult we choose courses to learn, or jobs where we know we can grow, what we are doing is freely choosing an environment, a structure that “forces” us to do different things so that our mind is more open and absolves new information, new beliefs, and even better, but more difficult, new habits that lead us to have different abilities. This is where the concept of Chvmpion Mind comes from, to facilitate a structure where you voluntarily commit to small but regular, daily, weekly or monthly actions so that you train towards an open mindset that allows you to acquire new habits that will help you to grow.
The brain weighs approximately 2% of our body mass and uses ten times more energy than it weighs, or 20% of our total body energy. Therefore one of its vital functions is to “manage energy well” and hence when we have to do things that involve an effort = use of more energy, the brain will not be our best ally, on the contrary, if you can be sitting on a sofa saving energy, better, and if we give sugar chute to deceive him that it is good energy, he happy. Therefore, changing habits, doing new things, leaving our comfort zone is an effort by which we fight against the natural biology of our brain.
When we talk about Happiness or Well-being, it’s all in our minds. A person with few resources can be happy just as a person with many resources can be unhappy. Therefore, the key to regular well-being is in how we operate mentally, growth mentality or fixed mentality. This, therefore, leads to a state of long-term happiness.
In a very short and simple way, and from what you can find many studies, good stress creates adrenaline. Stress sought, or not, but managed, controlled gives us adrenaline and gives us momentum. Bad stress, unmanaged bone and excessive in quantity or time makes the cortisol hormone burn our neurons and can cause us diseases.
On the other hand, happiness depends as much on the people around us as it does on ourselves. If one is very well but has his loved one very badly emotionally or unhealthy, he could never enjoy his own well-being 100%. However, if your loved ones and close ones are doing very well, they generate extra positive energy for us, it helps us to be well. Hence, when we help others, even if we are not 100% well ourselves, this kind of gesture make us feel better. And since happiness, like unhappiness, is not limited, helping others helps us to enhance the feeling of well-being, we start from the level we start.
Next, I am going to offer nine recommendations related to the behavior and mentality that I have developed from my learning and experiences in the areas of Talent development and leadership skills, along with applied Neuroscience, all of which I have combined with the latest technologies, such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and big data in the Chvmpion Mind Method, but you don’t need to follow these tips now.
The following recommendations can be applied directly, but if you are looking for an environment that offers the structure that reinforces your desire and actions towards change, that is where Chvmpion Mind can help you enormously.
- Keep your eyes on the long-term goal
The key strategy is to be 100 percent sure about the “what for” we want to make certain changes in our lives. For example: “I’m learning to be a public speaker to help me be a better communicator at work. If we outline a roadmap and include incremental goals, it will be clear that small challenges are only a stepping stone to the big goal.
Putting it into practice: One way to begin implementing this strategy is to add the words “what for” at the end of your mission statements. This will clarify which objectives are relevant and specific and which need to be reviewed.
NOTE: In Chvmpion Mind we use the SMARTEEL and FU-PRE models to define objectives and mark the way to them in intermediate steps that help you walk and achieve them. There are several models that you can find on the Internet to define goals, one of the most popular is the SMART model. There are not so many to define the purposes behind the objectives you set, but there is one that you may find on the Internet known as the “5 whys”, although I would replace it with the “7 for what“.
- Breathing through discomfort
When we venture into the unknown, perceived as dangerous or that we believe we cannot handle, our body releases cortisol and we feel emotional discomfort. The key is to recognize the discomfort, to ask ourselves if we are really in danger or if this is simply the amygdala’s exaggerated reaction. If so, allow it instead of resisting it.
Putting it into practice: Going for a walk or taking several deep breaths oxygenates the brain and makes the emotion fade.
NOTE: with Chvmpion Mind we help you to do physical exercise and meditate regularly, a practice that will help you deal with the zone of discomfort.
- Reframe your language about failure
Sometimes failure simply means looking for a different solution. Silicon Valley’s motto “Move fast and break things” reflects a culture of interruption, rapid iteration, and growth. If something goes wrong, to put the positives of that experience into words. To reframe is to put in positive something that seems negative.
Putting Language’s Reframing into Practice: Describing his multiple attempts to create the bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
- Make yourself uncomfortable – on purpose
Psychologists say that if we do things that deliberately bother us, such as calling a potential client or seeking feedback, we gain confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. When Steve Jobs was 12, he cold-called Bill Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard, asking for spare parts for the project he was working on. As a result, not only did he receive spare parts, but he also won a scholarship at HP.
Putting it into Practice: What can you do today to build on the discomfort and add to your growth mindset toolbox?
NOTE: Entering the Chvmpion Mind process is taking a step toward that uncomfortable zone that will make you grow.
- Seek feedback
Dominic Barton, former CEO of McKinsey & Company, forged a culture that not only welcomes comments but also demands them. Barton says he was able to get valuable information about his leadership style from employees who had only been with the company for a short period of time.
Put into Practice: Make a list of five people you’d like to hear from, either professionally or personally. Patterns will most likely emerge from that feedback, which will give you an idea of your main strengths and areas for improvement. If you can, combine people who know you very well and people who are not so close to you, but they have the opportunity to observe you regularly.
NOTE: At Chvmpion Mind we cover this area with 5 observers that you select and accompany and support you for 21 weeks.
- Set deadlines and inform people about your goals.
As soon as we tell someone that we are committed to doing something, we are more likely to go ahead with this project to avoid embarrassment. Studies show that when people know they are being observed, the mental pressure they are under is greater than, for example, winning or failing to win a good bonus at the end of the year. Especially if we have a moderately healthy economy that covers our basic needs. This is the #1 reason why our good wishes for the new year resolution fail because we don’t share them with anyone, just in case we don’t end up doing what we think we want to do.
Put into Practice: One way to be accountable is to join an expert or peer group.
NOTE: And yes, at Chvmpion Mind you will have this group of people who will “encourage” you to achieve your goals.
- Integrating change, celebrating success
When we deliberately create a change in our life, we create a new reality. It is important to take the time to let it settle. Eventually, our brain will reward us with a sense of accomplishment and a surge of dopamine.
Put into Practice: Celebrating our triumphs with friends creates positive reinforcement.
NOTE: I recommend the book “The Power of habits”.
There are things that neuroscientists and psychologists still understand, but they know it is real, even if they lack explanation. Being thankful, or rather, feeling grateful gives us energy. It’s not about cognitively thanking but about feeling that gratitude, to other people, or to yourself for what I can do, for what I am, for what I have and don’t have, for what I receive from others and don’t receive.
Put into Practice: find a space every day to feel grateful. To express it, even internally and recognize how parts of your body vibrate with that feeling. It can be from things as simple as, today I saw new dawn, grateful for being able to walk, for being able to share special moments with special people, for making things difficult for me and helping me grow, for having water without having to wait for rain …
- Seek how to make others happy
We explained at the beginning of this article that the happiness of our environment influences us in our own happiness. And also, our own happiness influences the happiness of our environment, so we must do everything possible to take care of ourselves, to be able to be well. And if we are not 100% well, one way to feel better is to help others to be well. Therefore, being able to help others is one of the most relevant wellness factors found in the last 25 years. Socializing is part of it, but socializing by helping is what really generates well-being, and sometimes it is enough to listen to someone, without doing anything else, to generate well-being for others.
Putting it into Practice: Make sure that your actions or omissions are also done to benefit others. Find out how to generate small gestures, one daily, for the next 21 days, from spending time with someone who appreciates and misses you, to offer to do something for someone who is very easy for you, but time is the excuse for not doing it for somebody else. Even be aware of how you can do the same things you are already doing, but together with others who will feel supported by you.
The application of these nine strategies will almost certainly cause growth problems. But if we stick to it, we can master our mind, minimize self-imposed limitations, and have a better chance of succeeding in business and life in general.
And the typical ones not mentioned here, but no less important, and that you already know, to sleep well and enough, to do regular physical exercise, to meditate every day, even if it is just 5-10 minutes, and to eat healthily almost always 😉, are ways to generate energy that your brain will be grateful for so that it does not monopolize all the energy that you need to create new habits and open mentality.
Jose L. Menéndez
Founder CEO of OlaCoach Corporate S.L.
Founder CEO of CHVMPION MIND ™
Master PNL by ITS – UK
Master C. Coach by ICF – USA
Master Ex. Positive Leadership and Strategy by IE – Spain
Jose L. Menéndez is known as an expert in Coaching and Applied Neuroscience in the development of Talent and Leadership. He has the ability to “translate” neuroscientific studies and knowledge into a simple and pragmatic way for leaders and executives to realize their professional and personal potential using brain optimization methods to achieve results.
Pioneer of Spanish Coaching since 1996, he directs OlaCoach Corporate S.L., a boutique consultancy specialized in the design of programs for the development of Talent and Leadership, through applied Neuroscience and Integral Coaching, combining it with the CHVMPION MIND™ methodology. Founder CEO of CHVMPION MIND Technology S.L.
Among his clients are Microsoft, Intel, Coca Cola, PwC, Telefónica, ABB, Inditex, RE/MAX, BBVA, Siemens, Newmont, and many more, in addition to almost a hundred small and middle-size companies.
In his spare time, he likes to walk and talk with his wife while they enjoy a good tico or Colombian coffee, if possible.
To find out how Jose L. can help your organization maximize its true potential, write to firstname.lastname@example.org