Train Your Brain to Take the High Road or It Will Take the Low Road
Did you know that the brain has distinct centers where higher functions are stimulated as well as centers where more base or “lower” functions are stimulated? Most of us often assume we act out of the higher brain center.
However, some leaders are what can only be called reactionary. They go on gut instinct and make instant decisions sometimes affecting the livelihood of hundreds or even thousands without a care. That is behavior that comes from the lower brain centers.
Train Your Brain to Stay Strong in Emotionally Charged Situation
If you want to be a respected, wise leader or role model in your world, whether that world is your immediate family, a coach, or expands further out into the community or the wider world, it’s important to learn how to train your brain. I’m not talking about training your brain for a particular industry. No, I’m talking about learning how to see the bigger picture of how your behavior affects others particularly when making important decisions. What I’m talking about is the essence of emotional intelligence, which has been written about in the book by that name by Daniel Goleman.
According to an article I recently read on the topic of Neuroscience and Leadership at Strategy+Business.com, “The Low Road is the Warning Center. It is associated with three parts of the brain: the amygdala, insula, and orbital frontal cortex. This center generates feelings of fear, gut-level responses, and the sense that something is worth pursuing or avoiding. Anxious feelings of impending danger (especially those related to the experience of past threats) can activate this center with such intensity that they override all other thinking and response. Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman calls that phenomenon the ‘amygdala hijack’.”
Become Friends with Your Brain
The human brain is so complex. I learned something a long time ago that helped me make important changes. I learned that I don’t have to believe every thought that comes into my mind. This is what I mean by becoming friends with your brain. You must understand that there are so many thoughts that come into the mind that are negative, fearful and mostly simply untrue. Instead of reacting based on those thoughts, you have to tune into them and consider them. This is one of the main reasons for meditation or simply sitting quietly and paying attention to what’s going on inside your amazing head.
The low road is the habitual road too. The high road has to be cultivated in the brain. That leads me to another powerful thing I learned about the brain. Someone once told me, “What you focus on expands.” Wow! When I really thought about that I was blown away.
I have a small exercise you can do maybe when you first awaken in the morning or as you’re falling asleep at night. Tune into your brain and pay attention to your thoughts. There’s always something going on in the mind whether you’re conscious of what that is or not. The idea is to become more conscious, then to consciously and deliberately think thoughts. Deliberate conscious thoughts lead to deliberate, conscious actions. Over time, you can train your brain to focus on higher thoughts and values. As the article I cited earlier states, “At first, the Low Road is more comfortable; the High Road is indeed a road less traveled. But as you learn to make choices that favor the High Road in your mind, those choices strengthen the related circuits in your brain. This makes it easier to stay on the High Road, and gives you greater facility and sophistication for leading others.”
I’m pretty sure that once you function from the high road, there will be no interest in traveling the low road again.