As 2023 begins I decided to choose meraki as the word that will guide my work this year.
Meraki is used by Greeks to describe scenarios when a person has really put a part of themselves into something. It could be cooking that comes from the heart, composing a piece of music that comes straight from the soul, or writing an article that expresses thoughts openly, honestly, and vulnerably.
In this article I am sharing what moves my soul: Learning! I am passionate about learning – be it how we learn, why we learn, or what there is still to learn in these uncertain and technologically disruptive times.
I was intrigued to learn the most recent developments in “Neuroplasticity:” the ability of the brain to adapt itself in response to new experiences, situations, or changes in the environment. This means that you can either improve a skill or learn a new one by accessing the power of neuroplasticity.
By understanding the brain’s ability to adapt and reorganize itself, you can harness neuroplasticity to improve your thinking and modify old assumptions and beliefs.
Science has developed so much in understanding how our brain functions that most of how and what we learned in the past no longer makes much sense!
As an example: During the agricultural era learning was focused on the KNOW HOW’s; how to take care of the seeds, how to recollect, etc. Then the Industrial era came about, and learning shifted to help us with the KNOW WHAT’s; what process, what formula, what event, etc. For the era that we now live in, it is more important to KNOW WHO and KNOW WHY.
That realization took me to learn about the work of Dr. Tara Swart, an expert on neuroplasticity. Her idea is simple:
No matter how old, how stubborn, or how set in their ways, everyone has the capacity to change.
Therefore, over the holidays I took her course at MIT Executive education: MIT Sloan “Neuroscience for Business.” I share some of my learnings here:
- When you repeat a skill many times, you improve the efficiency of already established neural pathways to the point where you become an expert at executing skills associated with them.
- When you become a parent, forming a bond with your new baby becomes paramount, but it is an adjustment that requires change in the brain. Making this adjustment is possible because of the power of neuroplasticity and the reorganization of various neural pathways.
- And then there is the connection of our brain with others: “The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion and Its Influence on Group Behavior”: a book written by Sigal G. Barsade, discusses the concept of emotional contagion, which is the transmission of emotions from person to person within a group.
It explores the ways in which emotional contagion can influence group behavior and decision-making, and how it can affect the performance and well-being of individuals within a group.
Contagion describes how the connections you have with other people impact your thinking, behavior, and well-being.
According to research, the people you surround yourself with have a strong influence on many aspects of your life. (Christakis & Fowler 2013). I am convinced that the main skill that we must develop, if we are to succeed in overcoming the many challenges facing humanity, is collaboration.
This is particularly a strength for us hispanics, as relationships distinguish most of our culture!
Humans have a need to establish connections with others, whether on a personal or professional level. Your brain thrives on these connections, and their quality plays an important role in your thinking, mood, and behavior. (Swart 2019)
Therefore, you shall focus on the people who bring the best out of you, as this will help you feel more connected with abundance and potential.
That is where we must exercise our neuroplasticity: learn to collaborate with the different. You can decide how much time you would like to invest in this activity. Remember, the more effort you put into developing a skill, the bigger and stronger your neuroplastic brain adaptation will be.
One of the most insightful sections of the course was the discussion with Daniel J. Siegel author of “AWARE: The Science and Practice of Presence”. In the book, Siegel explores the concept of “presence,” which he defines as the state of being fully present in the here and now, with an open and receptive mind. He argues that this state of presence is crucial for personal growth, well-being, and for building healthy relationships with others.
Collaboration is a crucial aspect of success in today’s complex and interconnected world.
It requires the ability to work effectively with others, regardless of differences in background, perspective, or interests.
In “Collaborating with the Enemy,” Adam Kahane draws on his extensive experience as a facilitator and consultant to explore the challenges and opportunities of collaboration in a range of contexts, including business, politics, and social activism. He argues that collaboration is essential in today’s complex and rapidly changing world, as it allows us to tackle complex problems that require diverse perspectives and expertise. However, he also recognizes that collaboration can be difficult, particularly when we are working with people who have different goals, values, or beliefs.
One key strategy is to focus on the “intermediary space” between conflicting parties, where it is possible to find common ground and work towards mutually beneficial solutions. He also emphasizes the importance of establishing trust and building relationships, which requires listening actively, showing respect, and being open to feedback and learning.
Robert Axelrod’s book “The Evolution of Cooperation” also offers valuable insights into the dynamics of collaboration. Axelrod explores the ways in which cooperation can emerge and thrive in situations where self-interest might seem to dictate otherwise.
By focusing on these principles, we can improve our chances of success and make a positive impact on the world around us.
Let’s embrace collaboration and rewire our brains to learn how to collaborate with more diverse perspectives and experiences!