It has been an exciting start to the year as I came across many interesting people, discussions and articles which I will do my best to weave a coherence into whilst still staying on topic and sharing the gems!

Let me start with the backdrop of Artificial Intelligence. The Baby Boomers amongst us will have grown up on David Hasselhoff’s Kit car, Star Wars and Star Trekking across the Universe. For many that was about as sci-fi as we were willing to go. Little did we realise a mere 30 years later that we would be living in a world so close to the movies of our youth with driverless cars and everyday AI assistance, to super smart Smartphones, Blockchain and drones being an everyday phenomenon. Incomprehensible to some degree yet also so exciting with many other emotions in-between including some whaaaaat-the-AI-was-that!?

Folks there is no doubt that AI will increasingly impact all areas of our lives whether we like it or not. As with any emerging trend there are at least three camps. In this case it’s those who seek more technology, those resisting and those sitting on the fence. We have no way of telling how this will pan out but what we do know is it’s happening and as any good Trekkie fan knows ‘resistance is futile’. Perhaps now is a good time to be asking ourselves questions about how much of this we can enjoy and what will it take to become more of an explorer of possibilities in this epic time we now live in?

Someone who certainly gave me a deeper understanding of current and future is Craig Wing (, who amongst many things and business interests is a strategist and partner at FutureWorld; a company specialising in helping clients understand the ‘nexus of future strategy and corporate culture’.

I had the opportunity to attend his riveting talk which has had me realise more than ever that if we want to enjoy further quality of life, a large part of that wellbeing rests on developing a greater appetite and capacity for the overall experience of rapid change. This was a partially unnerving yet exciting moment – unnerving in knowing that humans have an inherent resistance to change and exciting as we are here now on planet earth in 2018, on the brink of a technological era some call the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

I left there far more aware that the world as we know it is changing not in months and years but in what feels like 10 second increments. Yes it is super fast and that night the VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous), was discussed in the context of an AI future – a world we at DGT have referred to many times in various communications, as we encouraged people to become future fit. Many of you have attended the Beyond Thinking program so as to gain the essential EQ and interpersonal skills to better manage a VUCA environment and your feedback lets us know it works. These early adopters are confidently spearheading the way to the increasing interface between high-tech and high-touch.

In essence, a developed sense of exploration is vital especially for those in leadership and if we are not in the presence of mind to be curious and open to the changes we all know are happening, we will find ourselves becoming increasingly marginalised and uncomfortable. It seems to me the choice that will create more is to find out what contribution technology can be to your life and wellbeing.

Here are some tips explore being more at ease with the VUCA world:-

  1. Your brain is on your side more than you may realise
  2. Use your inherent resistance to and fear of the unknown
  3. Keep developing your EQ
  4. Ask more questions
  5. Find S P A C E

Your brain is on your side more than you may realise

You’ve probably read or heard that neurons which fire together wire together and that in a nutshell is the blessing of neuroplasticity. In our case this means consciously and consistently choosing new behaviour, new thinking, new habits, then choosing again – new choices, thinking, behaviour, new habits and again … because this is how new pathways are formed. The ones most used become stronger. The ones less used become weaker. It’s deceptively simple. 

Yet, what isn’t so simple is that other than a life changing eureka moment when we do manage to change overnight (another topic of discussion entirely as to what lies behind this), embedding a new behaviour often takes effort and focussed attention. Under pressure, tired or distracted we can easily and unconsciously relapse to earlier behaviours and habits. This means that in the beginning, your prefrontal cortex has to use conscious will to override the old patterns until the burden of action shifts to become the unconscious default.

So how do we help ourselves override our existing default habits?

By repeatedly performing a new habit at the trigger onset, we create a default loop to the new habit. There are various ways to do this and all require a measure of awareness to choose to change.

You could catch yourself in the moment of the familiar trigger and each time you do, perform the new habit (thinking or behaviour). This is the start of a new pathway and with repetition the new connections strengthen until the new habit forms. The intensity of the trigger also discharges to the point where you do not even notice what was previously a red flag. Very often a change like this is motivated by a shift in personal identity (who and what am I being?). Where we realise what we are doing isn’t working. We go about finding another way to get the results we are looking for which includes the new habit matching the perception we have of ourselves.  Many people have used this way to stop smoking. Identity shift – trigger – new response – trigger – new response, repeat, repeat, repeat.

You can also elicit the help of a reputable psychotherapist or any other support person of your choice such as a coach. Some people have a go to accountability partner. Repeated sounds such as a chime on your cell phone can also be very helpful to remind yourself of a new habit. Use your imagination which in itself is a powerful visualisation tool to help build new pathways – there are many, many ways to help yourself.

In closing trust the neuroplasticity of your brain in that any regular activity is literally wired into your brain, wired into your brain, wired into your brain …!!

Use your inherent resistance to and fear of the unknown

Did you know that our brains effectively maintain the status quo because any form of change can feel physiologically uncomfortable and quite literally painful to over-ride. But we also have an incredible ability to adapt which means we are well suited for dealing with the unknown, learning and growing. So although it appears our basic nature prefers what is, once you understand the neuroscience of change is about neuroplasticity, it means you can consciously reprogram your brain and your behaviour for desired results which gives us enormous potential to cope with any unknown fear.

Another way of looking at this is that as a species, we wouldn’t be here if we couldn’t face our fears and change. The one thing in common all people have who have moved past fear is the ability to act despite the fear. They have never let it paralyse them.

You could try this the next time something appears so mind numbingly fearful – ask yourself what would an explorer type leader do in your situation? Find a role model you respect with the qualities you wish for yourself –  maybe it’s more courage, more grit, more confidence or more compassion, vulnerability, kindness. Ask yourself what would they do and what will it take for you to be that; your version of that?

You could also play with what would be ‘counter-intuitive’ for you. Go deeper into being more curious and just do it! Do it Now! What else is possible you haven’t yet considered? What if you could never make a mistake and still with full accountability and responsibility, keep choosing until you find what does work until you need to choose something new again.

Keep developing your EQ

We are at a technological tipping point and the more open we are to develop our explorer capacities to engage and influence our high-tech world, the more we are able to contribute to its ethical evolution. Some call this high-touch in a high-tech world.

Jack Ma, Dollar Billionaire Chinese businessman, internet and technology entrepreneur, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a conglomerate of Internet-based, technology and AI businesses says education is key in that we need to teach our children things that machines cannot do as we will never be able to nor should we want to compete with a machine which will outperform us on most mundane tasks. This means we need to change not only what but how we teach which means a fundamental change in our way of being not just thinking … in other discussions he specifically names EQ as being an essential business skill and then also references the importance of LQ – what he calls the Love Quotient which includes empathy.

This is a huge topic and one we will keep on discussing this year. For today, have a look at what you would like to create for yourself in a high-tech world. What are your high-touch points and what principles and ethics are you aware of that influence how you show up on a day to day basis?

Ask more Questions for greater possibility

Questions have become my favourite go to Tool. If I was asked whether I had a lifelong strategy for developing greater awareness and the capacity to explore, this would be one of my top go to tools. What question(s) could you ask yourself that would invite greater possibility? What invitation can you be to yourself and others?

Some of my best questions are:-

  • What can I choose today?
  • How much change is this choice going to create?
  • What can I be and do that will contribute? (to the change)
  • How can what I’m choosing make the world a better place?
  • What else is possible?

Find S P A C E for increasing Awareness

What would 20/20 vision be worth to you? Having razor sharp perception could be very advantageous and some of the things that hinder our ability to tap into our awareness are our beliefs and internal dialogue, stories, worries and distractions which fill our minds day after day after day, until….

We commit to the activities and practices which create s  p  a  c  e  in our mind and our being. True Leadership development includes time for going within, emptying the metaphorical trash, meditating, visualising, nurturing discussions, conscious breathing, exercise, hobbies, nature. All the things that feed your soul and clear the space for deeper and greater awareness, a gift we are all born with.

“…we can actually use the mind to change the brain. The simple truth is that how we focus our attention, how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information through our neural circuits, can directly alter the brain’s activity and its structure. The key is to know the steps toward using our awareness in ways that promote well-being. Rick Hanson, Ph.D. – Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

We may well revisit the topic of Leaders as Explorers, but in wrapping up for now when we include awareness, conscious effort and commitment to new thinking and new habits we have the magic of neuroplasticity on our side and the means with which to help ourselves deepen our EQ and LQ so we can positively influence this VUCA world where change takes place at the speed of space.

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