“The brain has incredible neuroplasticity.”
I’m not a scientist. Far from it. I convinced the left hemisphere of my brain that I can’t learn math. And because I didn’t love math, I lamented Science — or so I thought. Misnomers that separate the left from the right functions have been disproven. The brain [really] is interconnected, and the two hemispheres support each other in its processes and functions.
The Scientific action that interests me is evolution. Too many creationists shut off a valve for knowledge upon hearing the word – evolution. Change presses forward from disorder through action back to another form of order before it moves back to chaos. My reading for this blog has rewired how leadership functions
That’s where an article from the New York Times magazine, by Writer and subject Helen Santoro mingles with my thoughts. Santoro’s story captured my attention. Rewiring became the impetus for this blog.
Helen was born “missing the left temporal lobe in her brain.” The brain image shows a definitive blank. Nothing. But surrounding the void, her brain regions appear comparable to other fully formed brains.
Test, data search, piles of medical research failed to reconcile that Helen’s brain was so different from others’ that [she] could no longer be in stud[ies] in her teen years. Why? Her brain rewired itself to find out pathways to function as a whole brain. It seems that networks in the brain arrange in a particular way, but if you lose crucial brain regions as a baby — when the brain is still very plastic — these networks can reroute. More in the article about all that.
Another human study lies at the other end of the spectrum of Scientific data. Change unfolds there too operating with an observers’ attention. It’s called Collaborative Inquiry (CI). What is that? A resource that captures thoughts and actions. Human connection among our social landscape. Interconnection to other ideas carry the potential to solve compelling questions. Connectivity can also answer complex social issues. The CI process heightened my curiosity when I pursued its study for data collection back in 2018. Surprisingly, CI connects with the amazing science of neuroplasticity in the brain. The notion of rewiring is key with inquiry among groups. Dialogue for new actions evolve.
The best way to connect with something other than what we know is to acknowledge curiosity and ask questions. Use an open mind. Be curious to step beyond an empty canvas. And then take action to practice among new connections. Outcomes surprise! Like the brain, the findings reveal other pathways to function among the right/left brain. Surprises often mean cool discoveries.
Although my left or right leaning ideologies may be set, I can reconnect with people unlike me. I can learn innovative ideas. I can accept other principles for change. I can open a fixed mindset to act outside my prescribed views. To arrive at this place, habituating new actions manifest themselves.
You might be thinking, “yeah no.” But I believe principles for change rewire another’s views through purposeful connection with other mindsets. Everything evolves over time. Nothing stays the same.
Storytelling to Rewire
I’m in a book club. We read ten books, or so, in a year. The prior three years’ calamities were ripe for reading more than fiction. Dang! The world unrest became its own fictional story. Sadly, it was not fictional. So, we shifted reading to Non-fiction. Historical truths cement narratives throughout the years. As with evolution, some resurface after lying dormant. Those are the untold stories chiseled out of hiding. Pandemics. Racial history. Unequal treatment of humanity. Patriarchy. Each non-fiction book we read rewired a skewed truth passed down through the years. Each book opened other pathways to process the subtle cracks in a poorly laid foundation.
Michael Lewis’ The Premonition unfolds more than A Pandemic Story (its subtitle). It [is a] collection of [stories from] experts, among them some real heroes, whom we neglect and abuse at our peril (Intro). We don’t listen to the underling because of positional power. Powerful roles supersede another’s intuitional knowing even when supported by facts. By data. By experience. Just imagine how damaging power becomes without recognizing the latter.
I read about a young girl, Laura Glass, in the opening chapter. While her dad, Bob Glass, worked on a project for the Department of Energy, Laura scans his computer one evening. Dots populated the screen. Dad explains them as an “agent-based model” or people on the earth. Each dot functioned as a person moving about a busy day. Green dots turn to red to show how things travel. The model reflected the real world, readying for a natural disaster. The Department of Energy wanted Bob to determine if a small glitch in the electric grid might trigger rolling blackouts across the country. This is Science, links between little dots and the real world.
Laura’s intrigue and fascination trigger a memory from her history class where she learned of the Black Death. That’s when she asks if she could use dad’s model to study how a disease spreads for an upcoming Science project. The kind of science [she] was able to do with [her] dad was very different from the kind of science [she] did in school. With her dad, science was this tool for finding cool new questions to ask, and answer. Exactly what questions didn’t matter. The human mind [is] simply no match for nature’s variety of what springs as a new discovery ([p. 141).
The premise of Laura’s project becomes the subsequent intersectional work for Bob Glass and other known experts regarding disease control. The story is The Premonition about pandemics.
Attention to Rewire
As I write about the notion of rewiring, perceptions, and reality, I ponder. What conclusions should be rewired? To whom do I ask questions about ideas? Do I hold the capacity to listen with an open mind and heart to analyze information? Do observations contradict information? How do I balance propositional knowledge with intuition? Am I open to study both? How can everyday stories rewire conceptual understanding? Does rewiring impact a social landscape for human connections?
It’s Science. Observe, question, make conjectures, study, analyze, draw conclusions (maybe faulty. maybe accurate). But more importantly change. It emits the rewiring. We evolve.
Interconnectivity with ideas to solve answers is more than what’s in the mind of one. Humanity is hard-wired for human connection to find solutions.
Leaders Live to Rewire
And so, what does all this have to do with leading in the 21st Century? Attention to action in front of us is fodder for new learning. Your Stories. The Story of Helen Sontoro’s missing left temporal lobe in the brain. The Story of Bob Glass’ work. When sharing stories, their premises backfill voids of understanding waiting to rewire a preset understanding.
One of my favorite leadership books is Leadership Can Be Taught by Sharon Daloz Parks. Imagine being a student of Harvard’s leadership instructor Ronald Heifetz and colleagues. Being a life-long learner as a student, I suppose, is the attitude I take to fill my toolkit about leadership. The world is a classroom. It needs adaptive leaders in organizations, communities, and societies. Adapting to teach with comparisons from stories is a method to explicate ideas.
Heifetz’ poists that we use storytelling as a model to lead. It can distill and anchor a key concept to convey to others. The story, however, doesn’t always shift a mindset. I am careful not to bird-walk away from intended topics. I check myself to balance time: Story versus input. I know my audience to share stories. I hold the power of epistemological knowledge. It bridges general knowing with a larger concept. I build agency through interconnectivity. I incorporate time for questions and answers. Rewiring with story captures another way to function as a leader. What should we expect? Remember, surprises. Evolution. They are cool discoveries!
Discovery with ST Consulting identifies detailed functions (strategies) to implement in organizations and communities as a facilitator. She is a trainer of trainers to guide leaders into a new science for leading in the 21st century. Contact Denise for more information.