Resilience and Innovation Capacity: A Synchronous Dance
I wrote this article in February 2019, before the pandemic and global lockdowns. Over the past year and a half, Neurozone® has continued to study leaders worldwide to understand what critical behaviors correlate with high performance, and resilience during this time. This latest data and insight forms part of our evolving Neurozone® High Performance Code.
You can read my latest article on why Exercise predicts Resilience in Covid here.
Practical application of the Neurozone® High Performance Code
Today resilience is a hot commodity. This idea is not surprising since we need a lot of it to ensure high performance and thrive in such a disruptive and rapidly evolving world. Resilience is not grit nor tenacity. While grit and tenacity may help us to overcome our challenges and ensure they don’t overwhelm us, resilience is an innate capacity of the brain/body system. It is the capacity of a biological organism to overcome the challenges that come its way. And by doing so, to learn from the experience and thereby grow in capacity to overcome future challenges. This is what underpins evolution and adaptiveness.
In the clinical world where I worked as a neurologist, I was confronted by this sober and threatening theme daily: overcome whatever wants to kill you or be killed.
This natural law of how organisms survive in an interconnected cosmos is also deeply embedded in the organic world of business. To overcome the threats and challenges that cross our paths in business, we have to make an accurate assessment of the conditions, predict what lies ahead, and then adapt and adjust individually and as a collective to stay alive, survive and thrive. We do this using a fascinating innate energy system in the brain we at Neurozone® call goal-directedness. We set goals—we are goal-directed—driven first and foremost by avoiding threats and after that by maximizing rewards.
So driven by a goal-directed brain, the brain/body system expresses resilience by:
Overcoming challenges, learning from the experience, making predictions of similar future events, and devising solutions to avoid or triumph over the next challenge.
Being able to make an accurate internal representation of the external environment and predict the best way to respond to future threats is an incredible brain capacity, which we call innovation capacity. We use this capacity to solve complex problems and create new solutions—to innovate—effectively enabling us to adjust appropriately for a better outcome.
And here is the clincher—Innovation capacity is not only represented by this predictive capacity of a living organism. It is an integral part of resilience! Resilience and innovation capacity are intertwined in a vastly unconscious, synchronous dance—expressing themselves continuously in our daily lives.
So how do we remain resilient—and increase our resilience—despite the disruption and rapid changes all around us?
Over the past two years, Neurozone® studied a cohort of 2,500 leaders and potential leaders (aged 25-50), mainly from South Africa and the United States. The most critical behaviors that correlate with resilience and innovation capacity included:
Reducing intrinsic negative thought patterns in the team
Having a sense of making a meaningful contribution at work
The ability to break a problem into its smallest (generic) parts before trying to solve it
Bed-time consistency at night
While everything affects everything, the Neurozone® High Performance Code demonstrates how being optimistic and reducing negative thought patterns enhance goal-directedness and how making a meaningful contribution enhances social safety. The ability to break a problem into its generic parts enhances abstraction—a critical component of problem-solving and innovation—, while fasting, sleep, and exercise are all foundational drivers of wellness rhythms, providing a basis for resilience and high performance.
Applying these behaviors in individual and team coaching initiatives will consistently enhance the synchronous dance of resilience and innovation capacity, equipping us to deal with whatever challenges and disruption may come our way.
8 February 2019
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