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Is neuroscience distracting us ?

Written by Charlie Efford

Photo by Digitalbob8

Is Neuroscience distracting us from the real work?

Human evolution is in the process of taking a significant step forward – taking us into an age where our view of what is normal will become very different. It will be strange to let go of ways of working that have brought us unparalleled prosperity and yet we will. We will because there are better ways for organisations to accommodate the immense creativity and energy that we are all capable of. We will because the complexity of the world needs all of us to work together to find a way through. To find out more I suggest reading Frederic Laloux’s brilliant book Re-inventing Organisations. He explores the shift from trying to ‘predict and control’ our environment to having the confidence and ability to ‘sense and respond’ when things change. Or in other words, thinking about an organisation as a living entity to be listened to, rather than as a ‘machine’ to be controlled. This new way of operating is already here and it works very successfully.

having the confidence and ability to ‘sense and respond’…..

So where does neuroscience come in and why might it be distracting us from the real work?

I know a lot of people are getting very excited about watching our brains light up when certain things happen. We can watch mirror neurones activate when we connect with another person, and it is tempting to explain empathy as simply a brain function born out of evolution. Mirror neurones may explain the process of empathy but they don’t address why we would want to in the first place. It’s a bit like saying a car goes faster when the accelerator goes down. Of course this is true but it says nothing about who decided to press the accelerator in the first place. It is the driver who brings life to the car and it is the driver that we should be focusing upon. Exploring the mechanics of the car is useful but not nearly as worthwhile as trying to understand the driver.

It is the driver who brings life to the car and it is the driver that we should be focusing upon

We will not be able to understand the choices available to us (as drivers) until we start looking in this direction. This requires us to lift our heads out of the engine compartment and be willing to get to know the person behind the wheel. Our bodies, brains and mind may be the vehicles that take us through life, but they are not much use without a conscious driver. Once we learn where the autopilot switch is and turn it off (aka waking up) we can start to explore things afresh.

This approach is symptomatic of our ‘predict and control’ age

The people that have turned off their auto-pilot recognise the value of science but also understand that each person has access to a huge store of creativity, ability and wisdom that science cannot comprehend yet. Trying to pick this wisdom apart, so that we can analyse and scale it is futile. This approach is symptomatic of our ‘predict and control’ age and is doomed to failure. My suggestion is that we accept this wisdom just as it is, and learn to work with it. We can work with science rather than seeing it as the only answer to our prayers, and we can make sure that our energies are amply focused on what really matters – our connection to life.

If you would like to know more about your driver – look at our Conscious Leader programmes.

About the author

Charlie Efford

My name is Charlie Efford and I have been a leader all my life. I am at my best when I hold space for others to grow and develop. I do this because I enjoy it. I listen deeply, I care and I am not afraid to use my intuition. I often see things that others miss and I like to have fun.

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