What would your work community look like if people supported one anothers’ strengths? If leaders openly welcomed new talents from all, and then facilitated these for group benefit? Did you know that each supportive act rewires the brain’s plasticity for more of the same? How so?
An encouraging word, smile of approval, or risk taken to help another person shine, reshapes your own brain’s circuitry. Can you see how support literally rewires whole groups mental capabilities, in ways that benefit an entire community?
To create a culture of care, based on the brain’s capacity to grow and improve, is also to buoy up people’s courage to trust taking risks in public. The opposite is also true.
We all watched Susan Boyle lose courage to take on cynics, as a culture of detractors mocked what they saw as flaws, and neglected to value her top talent. Even well-intentioned media constantly diminished Susan’s appearance and her unique communication approaches. Because poor tone became the norm for some, opportunities were lost for others to celebrate Susan’s angelic voice.
Not surprisingly, critics and encouragers both stir emotional responses from people’s amygdala. Critics stir up stress and encouragers activate the brain area for well-being. It’s really a case of cortisol versus serotonin, and it comes within people’s responses to others’ effort and talents.
I once saw a scholarly community refuse to share their latest discoveries, and I questioned why. Person after person told of community critics who openly cut down ideas and publicly tore apart new innovations. To outsiders communities dominated by critics simply appear stagnant, to insiders that community kills incentives and shuts down innovation from even the most talented.
Where are the Helen Keller’s who leaped forward daily to perfect her offering, because as Keller put it, Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.
People find motivation to improve in encouraging cultures, because human support tosses in a heaping dose of serotonin chemicals that oil creativity. Genuine care lays dynamite neuron pathways toward more innovation, that my intimidated scholar’s community had lost.
Encouragers too benefit from their own extended care, because a brain’s plasticity shifts in their favor every time they egg on others’ gifts or talents.