Breakthroughs in neuroscience in the past couple of decades have been so amazing the United Nations declared the 1990s to be “The Decade of the Brain.” Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), neuroscientists have discovered incredible new information about “neuroplasticity.” Essentially, the term means an ability for new neural pathways to form in response to brain enrichment of some kind. The discovery that at any age a brain can change for the better is probably the most astounding breakthrough in the history of neuroscience, ever. Changing how we think can actually change our physical brains.
The May 2007 inaugural meeting of the NeuroLeadership Summit, founded by business coach David Rock, brought together business leaders, coaches, and neuroscientists to compare notes and plan ways to support one another. At that meeting, world-famous Neuroscientist Dr. Jeffery Schwartz stated, “I see what coaching is now…it is a way of facilitating self-directed neuroplasticity.”
Coaching has always been an exercise of the mind. With the more recent application of neuroscience breakthroughs, the coaching process has become even more effective at yielding positive results for our clients. Core activities of coaching, such as setting goals, making connections, becoming more aware, seeking breakthroughs, and taking action, parallel what neuroscientists tell us about how the brain operates.
The life or business coach who utilizes a neuroscience-based approach will convey an understanding of how to get the most out of your own mind. With the application of mental discipline, we can all change the way our minds operate at a fundamental level. Coaches who keep the brain in mind typically are familiar with several models of change and collaborate with clients to match model to situation.
Some brain-based coaching practices allow us to examine our own thoughts and emotions as if we were a neutral observer. These self-awareness practices typically lower the practitioner’s brain waves from the Gamma and Beta ranges to the Alpha range (8 to 12 Hz) and even to the lower Theta range (4-7 Hz). Lower brain waves allow us to process more information in a more intuitive and holistic way. This leads us to remain calmer under pressure and present a better response to pressing conditions by creating a considered approach versus a reactionary approach to a given set of circumstances.
Some people compare this observing of self to “mindfulness,” an ancient practice from
Asia. Without the ability to stand outside your experience, without self-awareness, you would have little ability to moderate and direct your actions. You need this capacity to free yourself form the automatic flow of experience, and to choose where to direct your attention. Otherwise, at best, you will spend your energy maintaining the status quo rather than moving yourself to the next level.
According to business coach David Rock, brain-based coaching guides “clients to learn to think in ways that change their capacity to feel, think, and act – and ultimately to shift who they are in the world.”
Coaching practices that guide the client to understand that all success in life or business is a function of their own mind will ultimately create better outcomes for the client. It follows to reason that coaching clients who have increased mental alertness and prolonged attention spans will do better than those who are mentally more sluggish.
Applying a neuroscience-based business coaching model has been shown to improve the position of major corporations in terms of profitability, efficiency and morale. Learning the focus of clear-minded critical thinking and communication for a group will allow them to work with greater synergy as they strive toward the common goal of success. A coach who is knowledgeable of neuroscience-based practices can steer members of an organization onto a path that facilitates clearer thinking and clarity of the common focal point which will be rewarding to any organization, large or small.
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