Being Human. BTFA (Believe-Think-Feel-Act).
1. For 1000's of years, philosophers and scientists have been looking to understand the human condition ... and until very recently, have produced few clear or satisfactory answers.
Since time immemorial, people have been intrigued with the idea that we are more than our biology.
Such speculation has confirmed, if nothing else, that we are a very complex being.
It's also widely accepted, that this complexity can make interaction and collaboration between two or more people, a challenge ... and that challenge has a direct impact on the performance of organisations, institutions and, at scale ... entire nations.
In exploring our complex self, many have offered ideas to try and explain their observations. Plato spoke of ...
Acknowledgement - image from AZ Quotes
which finishes ...
“If you realise that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
Much later Descartes famously said
'I think therefore I am' ....Cogito, Ergo Sum.
Freud, Jung, and others, taking a lead from Aristotle, have considered the individual 'Self' in terms of Ego, ID and superego.
The common objective of all these great minds, spanning the ages, was to put into words what they perceived within themselves and, what they witnessed in the actions of others... they were looking to establish what made people (including themselves) 'Act' or, more accurately, react (behave) the way they did, in different circumstances...
Such investigation led, inexorably, to a focus on Leadership, morality and wisdom.
2. Today we still need to understand what makes people tick ... especially dangerous people with dominion over others.
When we consider the horrific actions taken by leaders, in the times these deep thinkers lived, it's little wonder the focus was on morality and what makes a 'Good leader'.
The leadership aim, was always, to attain power, in pursuit of wealth ... it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise, in those simple terms, the aim is no different today, for leaders of all ilks.
To achieve that aim, many historic leaders carried out atrocities, usually with justification for rape, pillage and mass murder, based on maintaining order, increasing safety and generally 'defending' their Empire, country, state or position, as ruler.
Today, the principles remain the same, but have a commercial bent and are mostly focused on commercial manoeuvres in various markets. Recognising this, books like 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu have been popular, reportedly, on Wall Street and throughout industry.
That said, events in the last 2-20 years in various countries, show us, tragically, that this basic model of fear based control and propaganda, is still 'the game', in play, on a global scale and does still lead to the deployment of armies and in many cases war crimes ... the beliefs which drive such action by leaders and their followers, permeate and impact upon all levels of society, from beggars to kings.
3. In pursuit of satisfactory answers to the question "'why' do people behave as they do?", technology has been developed to explore and explain the human brain, which is now recognised as the origin of all decision making and action (in leaders and followers).
In recent years, the fields of experimental and developmental psychology have conducted studies which highlight rules and principles around this propensity for human beings (& mammals generally), to act in defence of self / toward others, in the form of aggression or hostility, at an individual, or herd level.
From numerous experiments, a myriad of imprinted conditions (i.e. mental states arising from sensory experience in the world) have been identified, ranging from narcissistic omnipotence to learned helplessness, alongside many other personality types and traits, defined as 'good' and 'bad'.
Today, Neuroscience is rapidly adding facts to this world of psychological reasoning. One interesting fact, is that our brain can process incoming information and make certain decisions up to 7 seconds ahead of our conscious selves becoming aware of it. Article and Video here.
4. So far, as a result of advancing technology, we've discovered that brains (people) mostly operate on autopilot.
Rarely are we fully aware of ourselves, our biases, or the multitude of imprinted beliefs (inherited from historic knowledge and thinking) which frame and inform our very existence.
This is a somewhat disconcerting fact for many, as it begs the question, are we truly conscious, or do we only become conscious of ourselves after the sub-conscious / unconscious brain, has already processed incoming sensory stimulus?
Today, new imaging technologies are enabling the development of an increasingly detailed map of functional brain areas which allow us a view of ourselves those famous psychologists and philosophers would have paid and prayed for, in their 'observational' quest for understanding the function of 'people'.
We might say, today, the science we have, let's us explain the shadows in Plato's cave, with facts!
5. There is much to know about the brain, especially, how it forms, functions and adapts/updates.
The more we know, the more empowered we are to be self-directed and do a better job of directing others, to better outcomes for all.
We can now look at the complexity of being human from an output [actions following brain function] perspective, but also, an 'input', perspective, where sensory stimulus triggers the growth of neurons (neurogenesis) and thus, the development of the brain we end up with in adulthood ...
Which is, of course, where we make decisions and take action, as a result of our conditioned biases, insecurities and beliefs... decisions and actions which imprint upon other brains.
Whatever is impressed, is expressed
This tenet, i.e. what imprints upon a brain will lead to the future function of that brain, was something known (in different words, without the scientific language we now have to back it up) thousands of years ago ... and stands as true today as it did then.
Which makes the idea of input incredibly important for all to consider ... for themselves, others and the performance of their teams and organisations.
Input, is provided at different development stages, by a range of people, in different conditions;
Knowing a little about neuroscience and psychology, i.e. seeing the direct connection between our sensory experience of the outside world and the formation of the wiring and firing patterns we have (the source of how we react and act), encourages us to see ourselves (i.e. Freud's ID [instinct], Ego [reality], Superego [morality] / who we are, and how we act as a person) as, the output of our imprinted brain.
Once we understand this, we can consider sensory stimulus, from the physical, emotional, social and systemic conditions we're exposed to, especially at work (which our brain navigates to survive - AFTB).
All such sensory stimulus becomes the basis for the future performance we achieve as individuals and of course, as teams (where individuals must collaborate with accountability).
It becomes obvious, that our conditions (at home, school & work), are designed and perpetuated by 'Leaders' imprinted beliefs. This 'hand-me-down thinking', connects standards, past and present, via the send-receive signals coming from and entering brains, across generations.
Fear based thoughts and emotional responses (BTF) are at root of personal performance, which becomes the sensory stimulus for other brains ... becoming either a Virtuous or Vicious circle of person-to-person signalling (more accurately brain-to-brain signalling via sensory stimulii - movements, facial expressions, language, symbols etc.).
Acknowledging this, it becomes apparent continuous performance improvement, where many people [brains] are required to interact, is wholly reliant upon the conduct of those we are in relationship with, and the emotional reaction, that interaction triggers ... and, of course, their reactions, responses and performance, is a response to our own conduct... as an outcome of our own BTF (beliefs, thoughts, feelings).
The socio-technical conditions we create at work, in the classroom or at home are a 'Choice' we make, when we either control or, more often, fail to control, our own neurological reactions to stimulus.
We typically make choices in our own interests, on autopilot. It takes conscious effort to make choices over our own conduct, while remaining aware that we are the source of stimulus to other brains, such that we act, with the best interests of another brain in mind.
Knowing all about our brain, makes it much easier to follow Lao Tzu's wisdom and 'Know Yourself' (Also an ancient Greek Aphorism "Know Thyself").
When leaders master this skill, it is transformational for all involved and high performance cultures emerge.
Through Covid, Levent Türk (Ex Toyota Country President - Turkey) and David Bovis (Duxinaroe Founder), spent c.7K hours together, creating an online course, which introduces leaders to the neuroscience of change, engagement, culture and effective strategy deployment.
To find out more for yourself or your team, please register your interest or set a time to talk, via our website enquiry form