Monday, April 26, 2010

The Workplace We All Hate

Most of us are stressed and stress costs us and our organization at every level that matters. Research shows that:
A brain under stress is incapable of sustaining peak performance.
Chronic stress also renders an employee neurologically incapable of maintaining positive affect, high morale, cooperation or interpersonal strength.

There are a million Americans absent from work everyday due to stress and even more missing due to presenteeism. Stress accounts for nearly half of turnover, and the long list of stress-related diseases is driving-up the cost of health benefits. Stress is identified as the #1 problem for 90% of senior executives. The price tag is somewhere around a trillion dollars. It's a mess and few companies know what to do to solve it. Most would tell you there is no solution. There is.

The neurological opposite of stress is peace. It may surprise you to learn that peace is a highly dynamic neurological state. It is a core condition that expands the physical brain structure to increase analytic, practical and creative intelligence. It is also the core condition that promotes a mindset for emotional and social intelligence, optimal health and psychological resilience.
Breakthroughs in neuroscience over the last ten years make it clear that the prescription for peak performance is to shift our attitude -- from stress to peace. This shift in attitude involves a simple set of processes anyone can learn. These simple processes physically rewire the brain to produce a highly creative, emotionally balanced, and increasingly healthy employee. These outcomes are a direct effect of the resulting healthy neural networks.

Stress hormones are toxic to these networks. Stress, as defined by science, is the perception that external demands exceed our inner resources to meet them. This causes a neurological reaction and releases stress hormones into the bloodstream.

A dynamic state of peace represents a shift in perception that allows us to relate to demands without fear. A simple but consistent practice that shifts anxious, stress-provoking attitudes at the point of inception has been shown to generate:

Higher gamma wave activity, indicating the brain is linking and processing information from all of its parts faster and in a more organized manner. Gamma waves are associated with high levels of intelligence, higher cognitive processes, and peak performance.

Higher levels of activity in the left prefrontal cortex, indicating that a positive perspective has become the emotional default, producing a calm, clear, optimistic, and emotionally resilient way of being.
Greater activity in the center of the brain (caudate and right insula,) indicating a higher level of interpersonal resonance and social intelligence.

This change is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity means that a change of attitude which changes our experience, physically changes our brain. As we shift our attitude from fear to peace, our brains rewire. This resolves chronic stress by quieting the primitive neuro-circuits of fear and amplifying higher brain function.
In this new environment, companies generate a neuro-competitive advantage. The emotional climate shifts from negative to positive, from survival mode to the joy of excelling. Challenges stretch people in positive ways, instead of taxing them. Work becomes an intrinsically rewarding experience that energizes people instead of rendering them drained and dissatisfied.

The ROI for making this shift is enormous.

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