The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.― Albert Einstein
Welcome to brain-based change, a website intended to provide insights from science to facilitate positive change. I am Kay Fudala, your resident change strategist, and brain-based coach.
A few months ago, I was catching up with an old friend. As we were swapping stories, I got rather passionate and up on my change soapbox. I had recently seen yet another project team deprioritize change management and leadership coaching.
“Change is hard,” I said, “Why can’t clients see how important it is to plan for transitions? I wonder how distracted people are about what’s coming. We would have started making headway on the roadmap in just a few weeks. If somebody is not doing it, it will never get done!”
My friend used to my jumping on the soapbox, said in a tone drenched in sarcasm, “The clients must think that they have it all figured out. Just get some checklists together, tell people what to do, and they will follow, right? How hard can it be?”
“Good luck with that!”, I said, “They may think they know the stakeholders, but they can’t do the thinking for the people who are impacted. I have been talking to you for several years now about what happens in our brain when we deal with change. All I can say is that the threat level felt by the employees is off the charts. I wonder how many people are going to quit? I will be surprised if they don’t see a big dip in the quarterly performance!”
The only thing that is constant is change.― Heraclitus
Does this sound familiar? At work, your company has decided to change systems. Your team is looking to adopt Agile practices. Your department is being asked to deliver more with fewer resources. In your family, your role as a parent is transforming (quite abruptly). Your kids are switching schools, pursuing new interests, or just maturing into typical screenagers. Change is ubiquitous, whether you are ready or not.
On top of these unavoidable changes, you may have self-directed goals of your own that you are struggling to accomplish. You may want to establish better wellness habits, stretch your creativity or demonstrate leadership presence in your community. These personal ambitions may seem too audacious, the obstacles to building and sustaining new habits may seem insurmountable.
Studies show that when we deal with multiple changes concurrently, our stress levels skyrocket impacting more than just our productivity. This is also why it is hard to be fully engaged and invested when the demands made of us exceed our capacity.
Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.― Alvin Toffler, Future Shock
Change can also seem overwhelming because we are overextended and distracted. We focus on what’s most urgent and neglect what’s important at the expense of our physical and emotional wellbeing.
We misjudge intent or misunderstand expectations and end up alienating people. We let our emotions run the show, never reappraising or regulating them. We don’t question our implicit biases, how they may influence the shortcuts we take in making decisions.
We are caught in an endless cycle of doing, never making the time to connect the dots or consolidate what we learned from our experiences.
You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.― Pema Chödrön
What if there was another way?
What if you could deliberately plan for change, even author the changes in your life? What if you could have a clear understanding of what matters most to you, your values and your priorities so that they serve as your compass?
What if you could uncover your underlying beliefs and reframe your thinking, you could learn to think better? What if you could learn emotional regulation, to lead your teams through conflict with confidence and grace? What if you could approach the small and big changes in your life with mindfulness, and emerge even more resilient on the other side?
What would it take to make that happen?
These are some of the questions I have been asking for years. These questions have led me to immerse myself broadly in disciplines pertaining to change and learn about the neuronal mechanisms that underpin human behavior.
The truth is that change can be threatening, but it’s not unmanageable if you have resources and support. Claims of a change failure rate of 70% aside, any organization, team or individual who diligently prepares for a change is highly likely to succeed. But, it requires attentive planning, timely execution, progress measurement, and consistent reinforcement.
It also requires something even more important than plans and dashboards, an understanding of how to lead change with the brain in mind.
The intention of this site is to provide resources – information, tools, and techniques – drawn from the practice of change management augmented by empirical evidence from contemporary social neuroscience and behavioral economics. Above all, our goal is to disseminate knowledge, engender hope and provide support.
Through a better understanding of how the brain deals with change, we can engage others in a more brain-friendly manner. We can be deliberate in how we approach every communication and every interaction.
Change may be inevitable, and human behavior unpredictable. However, one nudge, one coaching conversation, one powerful insight at a time… We can facilitate positive change for good.
You cannot force commitment, what you can do…You nudge a little here, inspire a little there, and provide a role model. Your primary influence is the environment you create.― Peter Senge
Your brain-based coach,