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Celebrating Our Partners

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We want to celebrate the great relationships we have with our partners. They all help us get our words out into the world, through creating, arranging or supporting our programmes, co-delivering with us or providing our programmes to their customers.

CRR Global Logo

CRRGlobal – provider of ORSC courses. Lori Shook is part of faculty, and she was instrumental in building a solid faculty development system. Our good friend, the late Jim Patterson was a great colleague from CRRGlobal. CRRGlobal was founded by Marita Fridjhon and Faith Fuller.

LOGO on white wo textAlchemy was co-created by Jim and Lori, with lots of support from Marita and Faith. The programmes are now delivered trough partners all over the world. Thanks to the generosity of Chris Powers (Jim’s sister) we are able to offer a number of scholarships to attend the Alchemy programme.

crr uk logo black

When CRR programmes or Alchemy programmes are delivered in London or elsewhere in the UK, Nairy McMahon is holding the reins. Nairy is also a great conversation partner in all things marketing and business development.


Gwen Knowles is providing coaches with great tools through BoomBoomGo. One of the programmes is Coaches Going Corporate, developed by Lori.


SCC-IPWith Kathryn Szymczyk, we have developed a programme specifically for business developers in legal companies.

institute of passionLori is a Co-founder, director and applied neuroscience practice leader with the good folks at Institute of Passion.

logo snowball crop

Bridget Temple brought us in to co-create and co-deliver a huge personal development programme for an international pharmaceutical.

nathalie brittenNathalie Britten, the organizer of Coaches Top-up series in London.

belgrave_logo-wb-350With Catherine Stagg-Macey, we are co-creating coaching programmes and doing business development for a mid-sized consulting company

Coaches Going Corporate video series

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Shooksvensen in cooperation with Boom Boom Go are launching an 8-part video course series called Coaches Going Corporate.

The series is intended for coaches who want to sharpen their coaching skills and who want to work within organisations, either as external or internal coaches.

Some of the topics are:

  • Build the confidence and authority to successfully coach corporate executives.
  • Use brain science to explain your coaching tools to logical, linear-thinking clients.
  • Learn a range of tools and techniques to tap into your clients’ creativity.
  • Develop a number of approaches to overcome your clients’ resistance.
  • … and more

Please visit Boom Boom Go for more information.

Making Change Stick

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As coaches and trainers, we all know how hard it can be for our clients to embed their new learning into an ongoing practice, or stick to the changes they want in their lives and create new habits. In this short video, Lori Shook shares four key elements that will help you to ensure your clients find it easier to make change stick.

Brain Power: A User’s guide for navigating uncertain times

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In collaboration with
Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
in November 2016 Lori delivered a 
Winter 2016 Leadership Masterclass
“Brain Power: a user’s guide for navigating uncertain times!”

Short interview with Lori:

Link to the PowerPoint presentation

Lori Shook
Professional Coach and a Master Certified Coach (MCC) since 2001, Lori has coached small business owners, managers and executives from a variety of organisations around the world including IBM, Capgemini, UN, Siemens and Johnson & Johnson. She has served on faculty at The Coaches Training Institute, Performance Consultants International and CRRGlobal.

Consistent with Lori’s background in science and engineering, her approach to coaching is practical and pragmatic: she insists that coaching is considerably more productive when the focus is on enriching the client’s internal world to reach their stated goals with more clarity of purpose and less self-interference.

Lori brings together the latest in neuroscience, systems theory and experiential learning to provide dynamic learning experiences and change that sticks.

Lori is co-author of the book “Team Up! Applying lessons from neuroscience to improve Collaboration, Innovation and Results.”


Lori at Manchester Metropolitan University

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Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
in partnership with CMI and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
announce our
Winter 2016 Leadership Masterclass
Lori Shook, Director, shooksvensen
“Brain Power: a user’s guide for navigating uncertain times!”
Manchester Met Business School
Lecture Theatre G33
5.30-8.00pm, Thursday, 24th November 2016

Link to the presentation

Lori Shook
Professional Coach and a Master Certified Coach (MCC) since 2001, Lori has coached small business owners, managers and executives from a variety of organisations around the world including IBM, Capgemini, UN, Siemens and Johnson & Johnson. She has served on faculty at The Coaches Training Institute, Performance Consultants International and CRRGlobal.
Consistent with Lori’s background in science and engineering, her approach to coaching is practical and pragmatic: she insists that coaching is considerably more productive when the focus is on enriching the client’s internal world to reach their stated goals with more clarity of purpose and less self-interference.
Lori brings together the latest in neuroscience, systems theory and experiential learning to provide dynamic learning experiences and change that sticks.
Lori is co-author of the book “Team Up! Applying lessons from neuroscience to improve Collaboration, Innovation and Results.”

17.30 – 18.00 Registration and refreshments – Business School North Atrium. Meet tutors, staff and other attendees over light refreshments.
18.00 – 18.15 Welcome from David Roberts, Senior Lecturer, Strategy and Innovation
18.15 – 19.15 Guest Lecture – Lori Shook, Director, shooksvensen
“Brain Power: a user’s guide for navigating uncertain times!”
Lori Shook will share her extensive knowledge and experience, guiding you through the process of powering up areas of your brain to withstand uncertainty and grasp the ever-increasing complexity of our world. This is an interactive session designed to help you operate the brain to access creativity and innovation and explore collaborative solutions, based on latest research from the field of neuroscience.
19.15 – 19.30 Question and Answer Session
19.30 – 20.00 Drinks – Buffet – Networking

Link to the presentation

Through the Door

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Through the Door Model.
Janine Bailey and Marie Quigley over at Empower-World run a series of web-casts and they interviewed Lori about her “Through the Door” Model.

“Consistent with Lori’s background in science and engineering, her approach to coaching is practical and pragmatic: she insists that instead of simple problem solving, coaching is many times more productive when the focus is on enriching the client’s internal world so they can reach their stated goals with more clarity of purpose and less self-interference. Recent findings from neuroscience make this approach straightforward and accessible for clients.”

Their iTunes page:

Android user? Use this link to listen on Stitcher:

Also: The Through the Door model is an important part of the Coaches Going Corporate video series, trainer is Lori.
See more about that program over at Boom Boom Go

Lori speaks at ICF Conference in London

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Lori will be speaking at the annual UK ICF Conference 2016 “Interconnection and Coaching for Complexity”, 17 May 2016 in London.

Her talk is titled:

Being the Warrior: Standing in the Space so the Work Can be Done

The final session <of the conference> will explore how we take on board everything we have learnt during the day and the personal stretches we need to make so we can stand in the space and help our clients and thus society thrive in the complexity of today and of tomorrow.

Conversations that Count

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This autumn we are highlighting Conversations that Count, a program for training leaders how to think and act more like a coach, while still maintaining authority as a manager/leader.

This robust training program is for leaders who wish to integrate a coaching style into their leadership.  This course goes far beyond training a few coaching skills; it trains leaders to have a coach-like attitude in all of their interactions. Leaders and managers learn to see the best in others and to grow them. They learn how to be more comfortable giving feedback, making that feedback useful and delivering supportive as well as critical feedback. With these new skills leaders learn to create a more positive, productive and innovative working culture. Leaders are supported as they integrate their new skills with their teams and colleagues – as sometimes this is the most difficult part of learning to use a coaching approach.

Our co-founder Lori Shook is the primary designer of this programme. Her previous relevant experience includes:

  • Designing the flagship coaching programme for Performance Consultants International (PCI) and their level 2 coach training programme.
  • Designing a significant part of the certification programme for The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) which is still being used after 12 years.
  • Contributing to CTI’s new core curriculum designs in 2001.
  • Delivering CTI courses for 12 years, plus training trainers for 10 years.
  • Delivering PCI courses for 5 years, and training other trainers throughout that time.
  • Being on faculty with CRRGlobal and responsible for global faculty development.
  • Designing and delivering our ICF accredited programme, Coaches Going Corporate.
  • Mentoring many leaders who were striving to implement coaching skills.
  • Lori was pivotal in creating a scalable train-the-trainer model for CTI and for holding quality assurance of curriculum and trainers for 10 years.
  • Co-designing and delivering Alchemy, a very popular programme to train facilitators in delivering experiential learning.  Designed and delivered since 2008.

Lori brings her design and delivery experience from the last 15 years to our programmes at shooksvensen.  She takes the best of the best, adding in neuroscience – because it’s essential – and applies this to our own Conversations that Count programme.

Interview with Lori on Neuroscience of Coaching

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The good people at RAW Voices, Tim Brownson and Olivier Larvor do some great Podcast!

In November 2015, they spent one hour with Lori Shook, talking abut Neuroscience of coaching, coaching and the brain and even something about chasing submarines during the cold war.

This is what they say about the podcast:
In this episode, Master Certified Coach Lori Shook provides us insights on how coaching interacts with the brain and gets positive results.
Because, after all, believe it or not, potato patato, coaching works and we have the scientific explanation why it does.
Because it does !

But I can promise you this: you will be moved by Lori’s warm heart.
And even when she was chasing submarines during the cold war !
Because she did.
So we invite you to listen to Lori’s fascinating stories: being a “spy” (well, almost), teaching inmates in San Quentin prison or taking ayahuasca.
But also her view about coaches without the International Coaching Federation credentials.
You might be surprised !

Free Webinar with Lori Shook

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Making Change Stick – Why coaching works and how to make it even better by Lori Shook.

Sign up for the webinar here:

Neuroscientists are providing so much information about the brain – about what creates our emotions, motivation, lack of motivation; why we follow-through or not. How we learn, what helps us learn, how we can create habits and what gets in the way.

Lori’s talk is inspired by recent findings from neuroscience and will help you understand some essential characteristics of the brain and what makes your clients tick – or not.

You will understand more about:

• what motivates people
• why motivation is not enough and how to better support your clients in following through
• why clients need to find their own solutions
• how we are driven by emotions, even when we don’t feel them what makes change stick

Sign up for the webinar here:

Free Learning event in London

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Stakeholders are human, too
How to create and maintain successful business relationships using neuroscience and a bit of structure

shooksvensen continue our series of free Learning Events in London.
The next one is Tuesday, November 3rd at Hilton Paddington at 6:30pm
Check our Eventbrite page to register:

This time the we look at Stakeholders:

Stakeholders can make or break a project.

We all have a “project” we focus on at work.  It might be running a training programme, developing a team, leading a team, or any other endeavour. No matter what the project is, others are involved. We deliver results to others, we facilitate others, we might need someone’s support or help, someone else might have started this project and there is someone who can stop the project.

There are people all around us – near and far – who have an INTEREST in and/or an INFLUENCE on our projects; these are our stakeholders.

All of these stakeholders are people, even if they look like organisations or anonymous titles. They are human beings, with a brain similar to our own. They have limbic responses; they feel threats and rewards, just as we do.  The question is, how do we use our knowledge about the brain to create the best possible relationship with those stakeholders?

During this lively, fun and engaging evening, we will offer you a structure to organise your thinking about your stakeholders, to identify them and to recognise their relative importance. This will help you create a plan for engaging with them more successfully.

We will discuss how you can create and maintain professional, successful relationships with your stakeholders. We will use our knowledge of neuroscience to help you find better ways of interacting with them and their oh-so-human responses.

Team Up! Our book is out.

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Our book is now available on Amazon.
Team Up! Applying lessons from neuroscience to improve Collaboration, Innovation and Results.

For your other Amazon version, please search for “team up neuroscience”.

This book is about how to create more collaborative teams.

The shooksvensen founders, Lori Shook and Frode Svensen have applied lessons from neuroscience to typical leadership and team challenges. These lessons show us that our natural drive for survival is part of the problem.

We follow a fictitious – yet very real – management team as they learn and grow through a culture change programme. A leadership training programme provides the team with brain-based self-awareness and self-management skills. Team members are then supported as they implement new skills and behaviours together. They learn how to manage their emotional reactions, they begin to view themselves as a collective and consciously create a more collaborative team culture.

Lori and Frode give us just enough theory to understand what is going on in the team and their individual brains without creating a neuroscience textbook. We get to know the team and some very common challenges. The presented solution is no quick fix. Instead, we get an integrated approach to change that we can apply in any organisation.

The messages from the authors are clear: train leaders in their teams and support them as they implement their new skills together. Base your programmes on available science.

Great Conversations start with Listening. Listen to understand.

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We believe that you can improve your conversations with some simple ideas. Simple, not easy. We’ll talk about “frame of reference” and listening skills.

How many conversations have you had that deteriorated to (a version of) “Yes, it is!” “No, it isn’t!”? Even with people in our own team – you all have the same goals and you all have the same targets and ought to see the world in the same way. Not true.

Some wants to reduce cost, some wants to build more business. Some thinks the team-building weekend is great, some think it’s a waste of time. Some believe that the ball is blue, some claim it is red.

How is it that we look at exactly the same, and we see completely different realities?

We are all different. Reality is not what IT is, reality is what YOU are. It is subjective.

We all have a different “Frame Of Reference”. All I know is that my frame of reference (FoR) is different from yours. I have a different set of beliefs, values, needs, education and culture (family, company or national culture) than you have. I have different MBTI or OPQ profile, different religion and different experiences. You can continue this list.

Everything that fits in my frame of reference is good. It feels comfortable and I see the benefit and it feels right. Anything that’s outside my FoR is not good, it’s bad or alien or scary or not easy to understand and it feels wrong. Or I don’t even see it at all!

So how can we work together? Collaborate and co-create? When my world is different from yours?

We need to find overlaps in our frames of reference. In every conversation I have an opportunity to understand what goes on in your FoR. Not to convince or win but to understand. Be interested before interesting.

Unless I understand what goes on in your frame of reference and WHY you have the opinion that you have, it’s going to be very hard to collaborate with you.

Idea 1: Listen to understand.

Ok, so you are dedicated to be more curious about the other person’s frame of reference, and you walk into the conversation with the best of intentions.

…and you find yourself in a conversation where you KNOW that the other person is NOT listening? She is just waiting for you to finish your sentence so that she can counter with her arguments. Doing what we call “reloading the gun”? And starts her next sentence with “Yes, but…”

…so YOU find it hard to listen! And start your next sentence with: “Yes, BUT…”?

We’ve all been there.

When you walk into a conversation you are carrying a box in front of you. In this box is your frame of reference, your point of view and all the arguments you have planned. The other person is carrying her box. Both of these boxes bump into each other and they get in the way of the conversation. You only want to explain what is in your box and the other person is doing the same, what happens? Nobody listens.

You can only change yourself. So don’t even start to think: “if only the other would listen better, this conversation would be more fruitful”. Just don’t. You can change this.

Imagine a pedestal, a small table beside you. It has a nice tablecloth, it is solid and it is a nice place for boxes to be placed FOR A WHILE. Put your box there for a while. It will not disappear. It will not loose power and it will not change (unless it does 🙂

Now you are ready to be interested in the others person and what’s in her box. Explore. Ask questions. You want to understand. Will your box try to jump back into the conversation? Of course it will, and you notice it when you catch yourself saying “yes, but…” When this happens – turn your attention back to her and listen to what she is saying. Ask more questions.

I hear you ask: “So what happened to my arguments – I have a job to do to influence this person. When is she going to listen to what’s in my box?” Simple. When you are interested in what’s in her box. When you show that you want to understand WHY she’s having her opinion, then she will be more interested in listening to what’s in your box. But only then.

Idea 2: Put your box aside.

NeuroBusiness 2015

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neurobusiness 2015We in shooksvensen are very proud to sponsor NeuroBusiness 2015 in Manchester, June 24-25, 2015.

NeuroBusiness 2015 is aimed at business leaders, HR professionals, researchers and line managers looking to gain new insights, skills and approaches which can be easily applied in the work place to help to tap into the latent potential in their workforce. This will help to maximise the value they generate through the way they lead and engage with their people and the cultures they create.

Lori Shook’s talk at TEDx

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Lori spoke at TEDx Square Mile 2013.

The title of her talk was: “Re-discovering our adult mind”. She talks about how our mind consist of the limbic system (she calls it the teenage or adolescent brain) and the pre-frontal cortex (the adult brain). The two systems we can train – to make better decisions about our behavior and to get along better. All important if we want to have humane workplaces with innovation, collaboration and great results.

Watch the talk here:

Emotional Addictions, part 3 – How to Kick Them!

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So are you ready to overcome an addiction? What will it be – guilt? worry? anger? or thinking of yourself as worthless? Fantastic! So you know you’ll need to overcome your neurophysiology (I’m assuming you’ve read the previous two blogs) and you know that making a change will be uncomfortable because it throws the body out of its accustomed chemical balance.

But it’s just discomfort, that’s all. And it just comes from your internal chemistry trying to control you. You don’t have to listen to it. It IS possible to change a habit: those hungry receptors that demand you feed the habit? They will give up and die if they’re not fed. You just need to starve them. A little will power goes a long way. And celebrating every success helps. I met a guy recently who celebrated his conquering a chocolate habit like this: Hah! Another chocolate that I passed up, YES! So it can be like that. Hah! Another guilt opportunity that I didn’t drag myself into! YES! Another anger explosion bypassed. And so on.

Let’s get on with how to kick these habits! This post is about the steps.

  1. Get clear about the habitual behavior you want to change (telling yourself you’re not good enough, for example).
  2. Notice the sensation, “craving” or event that happens before the habitual behavior begins. Notice when it happens, be ready for it before it happens. It might be an internal feeling (a little panic or something) or it might be a typical event, like spilling your coffee that then sends you into a fit of self-abuse.
  3. Then, very simply, don’t allow the habitual behavior to happen. The key is to not allow the behavior or emotion to begin. You don’t want to create those chemicals in your body. It’s very much like smokers going cold-turkey. You can make a game of it. Imagine it’s a competition and your job is to outwit the body sensations. Don’t let them win.
  4. It will probably be easier to find a different behavior so you can practice that. This builds new receptors and a new chemical balance that becomes the new status quo. So if you get angry when your partner arrives home late. Be prepared for the next time it might happen. You could instead commit to be grateful he/she made it home safely. It’s a practice and a choice.
  5. Be disciplined. You may have to be a bit tough on yourself to outlast those hungry receptors of your unwanted behavior. But you can.
  6. Celebrate and be proud of yourself every time you choose something different. Let yourself feel righteous about how you beat the old receptors again!

Some tips:

  • Remember that whatever emotion, habit or behavior you’re working to overcome at one time served you well. You can appreciate its usefulness in getting you to this place in your life. So thank it or appreciate it and imagine yourself letting it go.
  • Expect yourself to be successful. Know that you can kick your habit.
  • Treat this as rehab. You do not want to relapse as you really need to starve those receptors.
  • Get used to discomfort. It won’t hurt you; it’s just part of the change process. In fact, it’s essential.
  • Make a plan, get support.
  • Find discipline within yourself and build it up. Imagine it’s a muscle you’re working and enjoy your workouts.
  • Celebrate every win.
  • Know the environments where your unwanted behaviors are likely to show up. Smokers know to stay away from certain people, places and events when they are trying to quit. Or at least prepare yourself when you have to enter that environment and strengthen your resolve to use your new behavior.
  • Know that you are the master of your body and your mind can overcome your body’s cravings.
  • It takes the body some time to shed its receptors and build new ones, give it the time it needs.
  • Don’t give up.
  • It might be useful to start with a small change and develop your capacity to change and then move to larger changes.
  • Read more about how this works in Evolve Your Brain by Joe Dispenza

Please let me know how it goes! I invite comments, would love to hear success stories and even stories about failed attempts. I want to know how these steps are working for people!
And look for future related posts here as well. The interesting thing for me is that I’ve never been a fan of behavioral modification. And that’s essentially what these steps are, just changing the behavior, but in a very disciplined way. There are often beliefs and thoughts that occur before or with a behavior and in the work I’ve been doing for years, I usually approach change by addressing beliefs first. But that hasn’t always been enough; this addiction piece has been a great addition. So I think both may be necessary.
I will be writing about the belief side of things soon. If the above steps do not work for you, there’s likely some discovery work to do to find out what beliefs or thoughts are prompting the behavior or habitual emotions and maybe it’s the belief itself that’s the addiction! So, more to come…

Emotional Addictions, part 2 – The Neuroscience

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Yesterday was a brief overview of neurophysiology and today I’ll get into a little bit more detail about how emotional addictions work.

Of course, I can’t possibly do justice to the whole body of neurophysiology work in this post but I find the subject very interesting and think this light touch will help you be a little more aware of what goes on in your body especially when you attempt to make a change. So I hope you find this interesting and useful.

It all began in the 1970s when Candace Pert (Molecules of Emotion) discovered the opiate receptor in the brain. When you take a codeine tablet for pain, for example, codeine enters the bloodstream then circulates until it finds the opiate receptor where it then “plugs in” to the brain and does its work to reduce pain. Well known opiates include morphine, codeine and heroin. When the heroin user shoots up, the heroin enters the bloodstream, finds and plugs in to the receptors just like codeine but it has a little different impact on the body.
In addition to opiates that can be introduced from outside the body (orally, by injection, smoking, etc.), there are some well-known opiates created internally by the human body called endorphins and these also connect to the brain through opiate receptors. Endorphins are the chemicals known for creating the “runner’s high”: When you go out for a long run and come back and feel exhilarated you are under the influence of your internally produced opiates, aka endorphins.

It was known fairly early on that externally introduced chemicals and body-manufactured chemicals were treated in much the same way by the brain. In fact the brain doesn’t know the difference between the two.

Candace Pert also found that each human emotion creates a specific chemical in the body and these chemicals, like endorphins, also connect to receptors in our brain and produce an effect on the body. This is what’s going on when we feel our body change even as we think about something we are passionate about or angry about. We know what fear, anger, guilt, shame, excitement, love and hate feel like in our body. Each emotion creates a unique “chemical cocktail” which goes through our brain and then affects the body. It is happening all the time.
More recent discoveries in neurophysiology (see Evolve Your Brain by Joe Dispenza, D.C.) show that not only are the emotional chemicals unique but the receptors in our brains are specialized for each chemical cocktail! There are receptors for the chemical cocktail created by anger and receptors for the drama chemicals and the same for guilt, shame, pride, power, etc. And of course there are specialized receptors for nicotine and other drugs.

Then an interesting thing happens. If you bathe the body in a particular chemical, it will build more receptors to handle the load. So the number of specialized receptor cells increases in response to the presence of the chemicals. So the more you smoke, the more receptors you create. The more you allow yourself to indulge in that drama fit, the more drama receptors you will have. More guilt, more guilt receptors.

Now our difficulties begin when these receptors get hungry. ( And some seem to be more demanding about being fed than others). But they’re only interested in their special chemicals. This creates what we know of as cravings. We’re used to thinking of cravings in terms of food and drugs (nicotine, caffeine, chocolate, etc) but it’s happening with emotions too and those are harder to notice. If we succumb to bouts of guilt or shame, it’s quite possibly because we’ve got these receptors egging us on; they need that emotion. And then we feed them with an attack of guilt and perhaps we grow even more receptors to manage the guilt chemicals. It’s a self reinforcing system. And it’s what makes an addiction.
So in our daily lives we go about our business of living. And meanwhile our body is full of these receptors demanding various things. If we have nicotine receptors we smoke, if we have endorphin receptors we go for a run, if we have drama receptors we create a drama, the people pleaser receptors encourage us to say “yes, of course I’ll do that for you”, the domineering receptors has us overpower someone, and the anger addict gets angry.

Dispenza describes the body as being in charge at this point. If there’s a hunger for guilt, anger, drama, domination, the body will nudge the person towards that behavior and if we’re not conscious about it and we don’t do anything to stop it, then we’ll make it happen. Before we know it, we’re throwing another of our favorite fits.

Now maybe this really wouldn’t be a problem, except that many people want to change. Imagine a child growing up having to please others all the time in order to stay safe. The child’s body becomes chemically adapted to the “people pleasing” state and builds many receptors for the chemical cocktail created when being nice or sacrificing himself for someone else. This is now the chemical status quo. The body will demand this chemical and anything different will feel uncomfortable or “not right”. And in fact, it isn’t “right” for that body at that time; it’s something different and foreign. It’s not what the body wants or is used to. So when the adult tries to learn to say no and stand up for himself, it’s extremely uncomfortable and the body fights it and will try to force the more comfortable state of saying “yes of course”. If the person doesn’t know this is going on, he will feel that saying no doesn’t work, people pleasing is just “who he is”, he will likely even quit trying to change and will resign himself to be a people pleaser forever. Fortunately, it isn’t true. It isn’t an identity, it can be changed. Unfortunately, giving up happens way too often with anger, abuse, being a victim, guilt, shame, self-doubt, self-criticism, the list goes on and on and on.

We need to know that we can overcome our emotional and behavioral addictions. We just need to find the discipline, commitment and of course a reason to bother.

I’ll talk more about that in my next blog entry!

Emotional Addictions, part 1

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Do you know anyone who regularly acts like a drama queen? Or habitually is angry, guilty or pessimistic or someone who is always too nice and never says no? Imagine that behavior is an addiction — because it probably is.

Most of us have behaviors we wish we didn’t have, or we have behaviors that don’t serve us well and many times we think that “this is just who I am and I cannot change it.” Unfortunately, it’s that belief that’s the problem! Because, in fact, these behaviors can be changed. But it takes awareness, focus and discipline.

Let me explain with a little peak into the world of neuroscience so we can understand how behaviors and habits are established in our bodies and minds.

In short: Emotions and behaviors create chemicals in the body, the body gets used to having those chemicals around, then becomes dependent on the chemicals and then starts demanding more of them, just like a smoker’s body demands nicotine. We become the servant of a hungry beast but we are not aware of it, we just know that we have a habitual way of acting or reacting and we think it’s our identity. But really it’s just our bodies trying to keep a stable chemical balance.

This means when we try to change a behavior, our body works against us. If we understand this then maybe the next time we want to change something it will be easier.
So the first thing to know is that this is going on, then we need to create a plan like a rehab program to eliminate the behavior and the body’s demand for those chemicals associated with the behavior or emotion.

In my next post I’ll go into more detail about the neurophysiology of emotional addictions and the following post will be some suggested steps on how to alter habitual behaviors, habits and emotions.


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How do you know if personal development (or leadership development or team development) actually works? And what do we mean when we say “it works”?

I believe there are two different categories of answers, first “we get what we measure” and secondly “things takes time”:

We get what we measure:

If you are going to run a change program in your organisation, look at what you want to achieve, how you will know if you succeed and how you measure progress towards the goal. It is not trivial to figure this out, and it may take some effort to agree about the criteria for success and even the goal of the program. But isn’t it better to spend some time up front deciding what you want to achieve and how you will know if you succeeded instead of wasting money on a program where you don’t know the ROI?

Things take time:

If you are going to run a change program in your organisation, accept that changes takes time. The human mind is a wonderful thing, and the more we understand about how it works and how our minds work together, the more we understand about how change happens in organisations.

Real change needs to be systemic and embedded.

Systemic: you want to work with the whole organisation, the whole team, business unit or department.

Embedded: you want to make sure that the change – and the ability to change – has been embedded. When the consultants have left the building, the tools, theories and practises have been transferred to your organisation. You don’t want “magicians” coming in, doing their stuff and leaving your organisation in awe and wonder.

Imagine a tub full of cold water.  If you want to change the temperature by adding hot water, you wouldn’t add just a small cup at a time. Yet this is how a lot of leadership and organisational development happens. Training individual leaders separate from their teams is like trying to heat up a cold bath by adding small cups of hot water. An effective modern approach is to work systemically – introducing whole buckets of hot water to warm up the tub.

Re-humanising the workplace is about unleashing the collective intelligence of people at all levels of the organisation, enabling them to have Great Conversations together and fulfil their leadership potential.  Great Conversations are at the core of great leadership that creates great results.

What does it mean to re-humanise the workplace?

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We don’t have to be researchers from business schools to realize that something is not right in the workplace. Our friend “the burnout coach” says: “According to a recent study by the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) 1 in 3 UK employees are threatened by burn out.”

We work with many executives, and more often than not, we talk about how they suffer from “the imposter syndrome” – here they are, well-functioning, successful executives in charge of big business decisions, and they feel like frauds and are afraid of being found out.

In one group of executives, 9 out of 10 admitted that they still were concerned about proving themselves to their father.

Technology is also challenging us. We are online all the time, using emails, text messages, tweets, facebook updates – constantly bombarding our brain with information. Leaving less and less time to actually process the information. To think.

Our work-groups are getting more and more scattered, virtual and in different time-zones and we get more and more tasks to deal with and less and less time to build and sustain the team spirit.

So: we are always on, afraid of being left out or let down, with little time to reflect and working with people we have never met in person. In this situation, we are expected to be more creative, more receptive to change, more effective and have more job satisfaction.

Business cultures need to change. It is possible, it is necessary and it will create better business results. And there is no quick fix.

We know from neuroscience a lot about how our brain works and how we can train and strengthen our pre-frontal cortex to get better at controlling the limbic system’s fear reactions. It is possible to get better at non-judgemental awareness and mindfulness – if we practise. It doesn’t take gurus or special off-site trainings in resort-style training environments, either. We can make it OK to spend some minutes per day thinking, noticing our thoughts and choosing our actions.

We know that people are not machines. They do not respond well to micro-management and leadership by fear. We want our people to be creative and that is possible in an environment where they feel valued, cared for and appreciated; where they have a sense of belonging. It is possible to create this in the workplace – without having costly and un-focused team-buildings off-site.

Culture is what people do.
Business culture is formed by what gets rewarded.

We know that a culture can change – and we know it takes time. We can change it if we want to. We can create a culture where it is OK to take a time-out to think. Where it is OK to have a disagreement that does not deteriorate to quarrels and dirty politics. Where people are OK to share half-baked ideas that others can develop further and where it is OK to fail – for the purpose of more creativity.

This is part of what we mean by re-humanising the workplace.