A virus that’s reached pandemic levels is a serious matter, and its rapid advance into our lives has sent waves of fear and panic across the world, affecting the economy and a myriad of industries from governments, healthcare, travel,  to entertainment, education, and manufacturing. This virulent bug has altered our lives, shutting down many day-to-day activities and our working life has become a virtual office.

Right now, in this moment where fear arises:  Are your leadership I-Centric habit patterns having the impact you need?

We are living in a VUCA environment. Once we get into routines we feel comfortable, and from comfort comes confidence. Yet in a world of COVID-19, we need to be open to change.

Unavoidably, we have encountered many changes in our work life—changes that require energy, focus, and commitment. Some of these necessary changes throw you into I-centric response as you will feel you need to protect what you have and prevent loss. Some changes inevitably lead to defensiveness as you try to hold on to what you have created.

Most of the time we don’t change because change means I have to take risks. We don’t like to fail, and we protect ourselves from looking bad. If there is no change we feel safe like something is protecting us. It makes us feel smart because we repeat what we know and we think we know it all. As we continue with the mirages, we fail to realize, exactly because it all feels so safe and re-assuring, that we are trapped by our comfortable assumption as to what constitutes safety and success.

Why do I keep embodying I-Centric Habits?

Neuroscience teaches us that when we get caught in an Addicted to Being Right habit pattern it’s hard to change because our brain produces high levels of dopamine—a reward neurotransmitter that reinforces our desire to repeat that pattern. While this addictive I-centric pattern makes you feel powerful and drives you to crave more of it, this power-over pattern can also push you away from others who find your addiction egoistic and arrogant.

I-centric thinking is based on a scarcity power-over mindset—thinking that suggests that sharing power with others is a sign of weakness; talking about feelings is soft; pleasing the boss is more important than pleasing the customer; telling people what to do is the same as communicating; telling people what to do will make them line up behind your vision; being the authority and having all the answers are the most important parts of leadership; telling people what you want over and over again gets your message across (when you are broadcasting “those idiots don’t get it!”); there is nothing you can do about territoriality (and so you do nothing about it); your job as a leader is to change others and get them to buy-in; it’s a weakness to say, “I made a mistake”; and winning means, “I win, they lose.”

Are you triggering protection or connection?

The Addiction to Being Right pattern is built on the fear of being wrong! So you fight for your point of view, needing to win at all costs. When you perceive the world through a lens of fear, your ego drives you into habit patterns of protection, and you unconsciously incorporate defensive behavior patterns into your daily routines. You tend to turn away from others when coming from protective behaviors, rather than turning to others for help in making vital changes.

Part of our brain is designed for protection; other parts are designed for connection.

Inside the limbic brain is the amygdala, a small organ that senses threats, helping protect our territory? The primary role of the amygdala, the emotional core of the brain, is triggering the fear response, which it does through a series of changes in brain chemistry and hormones that put the body in a state of anxiety. The limbic brain handles the emotions of anger, fear and sadness. Despite the enormous untapped potential in our brain capacity, our brains still contain organs hard-wired with guidance that reflects the multiple layers of evolution tightly packed into that small cavity in our heads. Each system speaks to the others. Each plays a role in driving behavior. And, we need to learn how the systems interplay to master our own behavior.

As we learn how to reframe or shift our focus from fear-based thinking to embracing the future with energy, compassion and connection for achieving success with others, we initiate a shift in our brains that moves us from pessimism to optimism—transforming habit patterns that hold us back into new patterns that catapult us into creating a WE Culture.

Conversational Intelligence® is a methodology that can facilitate conversations in your organization by generating awareness and providing both a framework and platform for people to connect, navigate, and work together in the face of fear. By joining forces through transparent communications, leaders can engage their teams to gain a greater understanding of how to adapt to a new environment, and generate a set of best practices

References:  Judith E. Glaser: “Firing” Your I-centric Habit Patterns: Are they getting the best of you?

Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ)

Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

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