What if the human brain evolved to sabotage our own thinking in order to keep us safely on the sideline and out of harm’s way?
That is one premise of Jonathan Clark’s Mastering Performance three-day leadership workshop. Clark supposes that our brains evolved to keep us alive just well enough to procreate. But beyond reproduction, Clark affirms neuroscience proves human brains are hard-wired to react to two primary questions: 1) is this something I can eat, (i.e., an opportunity) or 2) is this something going to eat me (i.e., a threat).
Our innate fight-or-flight response is on such a hair-trigger that within a fraction of a second, our brain's Amygdala dumps a powerful cocktail causing the autonomic nervous system to literally seize command over rational thought. (Commonly referred to as "fight or flight.")
What if that little voice in our head is actually chemical neurotransmitters blasting synapses thousands of times per second, more closely connected to audio receptors than the parts of our brain controlling cognitive reasoning?
What if the brain chatter is simply a series of electrical impulses that are biochemically intended to prevent us from getting eaten or kicked out of the tribe? If it were true, would that change how we relate to the voice in our head? Would it change our life choices and the stories we tell ourselves about what really happened?
After three days spent completely deconstructing my entire paradigm about my identity and life-long assumptions and cultural interpretations, I was surprised by my own conclusions.
These are 8 new concepts that recently changed my outlook.
1. I am not the voice in my head.
2. I am not the culmination of my life events or the stories the voice in my head has made up about them.
3. I am my word. What I say I will do and my ability to consistently follow-through determines who I am and what I am committed to.
4. When I align my life purpose with intentional and consistent actions that support that purpose, I cannot fail.
5. I cannot understand my true potential or others from what I know of them. Most of what I know is merely the collection of stories my brain has made up to explain something in the past. I must listen and engage authentically, without agenda or judgment, in each moment in order to truly know myself and others.
6. Life is dangerous, difficult and unpredictable. There is no right or wrong, fair or unfair, good or bad, should or shouldn’t. That is our brain making up stories to keep us safely on the sidelines and out of the game. Life is. When we are in the game, we must choose a course of action – and see it through. Fear and regret do not serve my purpose; they simply keep me safely on the sidelines.
7. I am committed to contributing to a joyful world of discovery and peace. This is my life purpose. When my choices support this purpose, I will succeed. When they do not – I am out of integrity with my life’s purpose, that is, my choices do not work with who I have chosen to be and what I have chosen to pursue. When I am out of integrity, I simply need to re-assess, re-align, and re-commit.
8. My performance is directly proportional to the commitment I make when aligning my actions with my purpose.
I get that this is a lot to digest. The implications of these eight concepts have rocked my perception of identity, choice, and realizing potential performance.
Not only do I feel empowered by the knowledge that I am not the voice in my head, but I feel less compelled to know answers.
I don’t know. Now I know I don’t know. I don’t need to know. It takes the pressure off of being right – and puts the emphasis on just being. We often forget – we are not just human, we are humans being.