A monthly column by social entrepreneur and A2B Transformation Group founder Vivienne Schultz.
Last month we discussed the first three of 15 human factors blocking your own growth. Please do check back and recognise it in yourself, family and community you work with. It is really important that we all get comfortable with having regular check-ins with ourselves and face the truth of the growth limits we tolerate in our lives.
The blockers we are discussing today are tough ones, because they are the result of nature, nurture and the choices we make and willingness to become self-aware and change. It is a hard choice to make: face the reality of the blockers in our lives, or remain stuck without experiencing the miracle of renewal of the mind, or reaching our full potential and being an overcomer.
Half brain consciousness
I often find that when highly qualified and educated people come to our workshops, their first response is to listen on behalf of others. They seem to think that they have high responsiveness and solid occupational intelligence since they are well educated.
It is very hard for privileged people to understand that their development may be siloed. Grain siloes are a picture of the way we build towers of knowledge or experience. I may be a leader in my field of, say, economics but that does not mean that I am highly responsive. I may be responsive when it comes to keeping a business afloat in trying times, but not so much when simultaneously keeping my children empowered.
Let me explain.
Around 60% of your total brain capacity is taken up by what is called your ‘higher brain’. I call it a twin toolkit because it has two critically needed toolsets. You received it as a gift from above, and your responsibility is to understand how this twin toolkit works and use both toolsets equally — because this is the secret to being a successful human. You brain is but a muscle that needs to stay fit.
Your higher brain works like a camera lens with an exceptional ability to zoom in and zoom out, equally. When you take a photograph of a group of people on your phone, you can zoom out and see the complete photo and get the full picture — where the photo is taken, what everyone is doing, what everyone is wearing and how everyone is feeling — the big picture.
You can also zoom in on one person and can see the smallest detail about that person — a real close-up — it shows all the details, even that little freckle on your ear.
This zooming ability is a wonderful tool, but humans sometimes become too comfortable in the zoom zone that comes easiest. Some call this left and right brain dominance.
Those who zoom out can easily see the whole picture. They can therefore generate many awesome ideas and practical low-cost solutions, but often can’t get around to task completion. Boy, do they go places with their creativity! They don’t really pay attention to detail and fine print, and hate admin — boring! They don’t like being systematic, orderly and structured. When others refer to this person negatively, they may call them non-conformist, reckless, unfocused, unrealistic or a mad-hatter.
Those who zoom in see the small pictures. They paying attention to little details, and like everything to be orderly. They enjoy numbers and trends, love admin and seeing that everything is filed in its proper place — but might not always see the bark from the trees. When others refer to this person negatively, they may call them boring, unimaginative, a control freak, perfectionist, red tape bureaucracy maker, power hungry racist, unemotional, uncaring or a stickler for details.
When we get stuck in one zoom mode, it can easily become a source of conflict, because we use half our brain to try to solve challenges that require both halves. Besides that, we easily assume that all humans should live in the same mode we do. How could you have integrity in anything you do, and be fully responsive to all aspects of life, people, profit, God and planet if you can’t alternate your ability to zoom in and out?
The issue is not that every human should both be equally successful as an accountant and innovator. It DOES mean that we should be in a lifelong school, developing ourselves in the area we are not strong in. Once we are aware of our blind spots, we can use tools to see where we could not before, and use power partners who are highly skilled in that area, to crutch us for competence. We should not abdicate our responsibilities and allow others to take advantage of us.
If we are not self-aware of the blind spot, we can’t grow to be whole.
Our mind, with God’s Spirit combined, raises our consciousness above the barriers of the social construct, as both brain hemispheres function increasingly as one to become integrated (integrity and righteous).
The next blocker is one of the reasons why humans get stuck in their comfortable silo.
Dogged, closed, fixed mindsets or beliefs
On the extreme side, hard-wired thinking along with fixed, closed beliefs can lead to the justification of genocide. Look at what the Pharisees did.
You and I are no Hitler, but if our beliefs are so fixed that there is no option to critically engage with opposing views in peaceful ways, we close ourselves from the very kind of out-of-comfort-zone experiences that build our neural growth.
Hiding behind the walls of fixed beliefs is also an act of insecurity: “I will fight for my people!”
It often is a dichotomy because your cause might be not so great after all, but the fighter forces others into their own small beliefs and cultural practices to justify their crusade.
Remember how the apartheid government made the army boys believe they were fighting for volk en vaderland? Or the way Mugabe claims to stand for one thing while spending his time shopping only for himself in London’s high-end shops?
Culture is not bad, but some people have an immovable adherence to cultural and sub-cultural practices. They are stubborn, biased, inflexible and imbued with a low tolerance for others. Such individuals are often unable to consider new ideas or opinions which will help them to change. They don’t like that others excel — especially when others grow beyond the leader. We need authentic and loyal power partners who help us grow, and NOT leaders who are so stuck in what they believe is right that nobody else matters.
It is not easy to be under a leader who is stuck. But it is even harder to spot this issue when you are the stuck leader. That is why we constantly need to create those out-of-comfort-zone experiences to help us stay self-aware and get out of blocker-boxes.
Old in the head
Things can get really tricky when a human is blocked by dogged beliefs, but is also what we call in Afrikaans “oud voor sy tyd”, or old before one’s time.
One can even find this problem with young people. Sometimes life has just hit us so hard that it is difficult to bounce back. The result could be that we respond as if we are old — we live in old stories, neglect our vitality and show declining physical health and have low energy levels. We think the world has passed us by and reminisce about what could have been. We lose vision, lose hope in self and others and stop believing in miracles. Our despondency pulls others down around us and we become nothing more than oxygen thieves.
Remember, these blockers are best addressed within an eco-system for change, where we pre-design an environment in a home or organisation that helps individuals and groups move forward to their full potential.
Join me on a Personal Optimisation Weekend in Cape Town (November 18 and 19), or Gauteng to learn to live life to the full. Or contact me with comments, questions or contributions on firstname.lastname@example.org.