We live in VUCA times – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous times. How so? It’s not rocket science. Just think of your own life: the rate of change of technology, how complex it is to turn on your TV now, your messages come in through multiple sources, there are endless articles, posts and emails to read every day, and these are not even our complex challenges. And, what happens when people are faced with uncertainty, change, ambiguity and complex issues? They get emotional, become fearful or immobilised.
The problem is we can’t do any thing on our own – with out involving others in some way. We need to be able to mobilise or influence others for all of us to get things done. So the question is, when we are driven by emotion and not rational reasoning, how can we create powerful influence to create wholesome coorperation?
Neuroscience shows ‘what is modelled matters most’. In other words we learn from what is in front of us. It is a phenomenon we know well – we copy what we see. This is because we have mirror neurons that function to replicate in our brains and bodies the experience of what we see out in the world (here is an article on mirror neurons) (and this is another). We know this from experience. It doesn’t matter what we say to children, they copy what they see. We even have the expression, ‘Monkey see, monkey do’, don’t we.
Modelling what we want from the inside out is key to influencing in the most powerful way. This is what people who transform systems are doing. They create impact by their very presence. This is what is meant by Ghandi’s invitation, “BE the change you wish to see in the word”. Whether people know it or not, when they are in front of you their mirror neurons are activated and they are having the experience you are having, so why not put their mirror neurons to good use and have the experience you want them to have, be that confidence or trust or inspiration.
Physics also supports this with the concept known as ‘Entrainment’ – the phenomenon whereby things that have an ‘energy’ or ‘resonance’ influence the things around them. Noticing that the pendulums of his clocks had synchronized, Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens, was first to talk about entrainment back in 1666.
Psychology also knows of ‘Emotional Contagion’ – the tendency for two or more people’s emotions to effect/affect each other. We know this intuitively as we feel the impact of a negative person walking into the room. We are affected by other peoples ‘energy’.
Think about it…it doesn’t make any sense that grandfather clocks would fall in sync and yet they do – it is a scientific fact. So if you want to have the power to effect what is around you, the systems around you, the key is in embodying it, so that you resonate it. It is vital that it is part of your emotional make up, because it is that which impacts the people around you. The change you want must be part of your own resonance, because that is what effects what is around you.
THE BIG QUESTION IS…how can you develop this kind of embodied influence, so you are being the change you want to see in your organisation, system or world?
THE most important thing is who you sit in front of, what is modelled for you. Choose mentors or coaches who are embodying what you seek to be – before your very eyes – as you sit your mirror neurons in front of them.