In many ways, we as humans are creatures of habit. We may eat the same meals each week, sit at the same place at the conference table, write the report in the same format, make requests in the same way, look at a recurring problem through the same lens. Although sameness can be efficient in many ways, it can also have a deadening effect.
Our brains like and want some novelty in small to intermediate dosages. The region of the brain that detects something contrary to what is expected actually lights up. However, when there is too much change the brain goes on “high alert” as in a warning system. Dopamine, the chemical of interest, rises when the brain detects novelty. Nor epinephrine, the chemical of alertness, increases when arousal increases. When you hear the sound of glee or see the look of sheer wonder in the face of child who has discovered the workings of a new toy, you are witnessing these chemicals at work.
That explains why I recently felt like a kid in wonder again when I learned a new rhythm in my Taiko drumming class. In addition to being a great brain challenge, on a very fundamental level it just plain feels good!
How can you apply this knowledge at work or beyond? You can pump up your dopamine level and your interest by introducing novelty in any form. It could be a change of perspective or introducing humor. Imagine if as a leader in your organization you chose to sit at the opposite side of the table how that might pique interest -yours and your team’s? Something as simple as that can shift energy and shake up the status quo. What is another way you might deliver that report to engage and wake-up your audience to your main points?
To pump up your adrenaline level, you can imagine a mild fear. Or ask yourself. “If I were to do something daring about ___ what would that be?” You’ll notice something different about your energy and will be more inclined to move into action, even a more bold action.
Suggestions going forward:
1. Curious to know more about how your brain works and how you can work smarter? Read Your Brain at Work by David Rock.
2. Try something new this week or try something familiar in a new way. And see what happens! Conversely, if you are on overwhelm, hold steady and wait on adding novelty.
3. If you are not on my “Steppin’ Up – The Power of Expression for Women” mailing list and would like to be, please let me know.
To You and Your Best,