Management Assessments Information

Executive Coaching Useful Tips

Executive Coaching Programs Tools

Executive Coach Best Practices

Executive Coaching News

My Executive Coach

Go Deep, Be Courageous, Emerge a Winner!

Serving the Business and Professional Community since 1983! 

N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.

Home Coaching Session Options ProStar Coach 24/7 Online Coaching Self Assessments 360 Feedback Talent Management Rapid Results Alternative Techniques Training Resources Small Business Survey Tools Meet Our Executive Coaching Team About Us Blog Books Contact Us

The Executive Coaching Corner:  Now in Session

September 6, 2012: Mindsight--It's Never too Late to Rewire Your Brain!

This issue will be a departure from my standard executive coaching case studies.  I belong to a neuroscience group comprised primarily of other executive coaches.  We get together once a month to discuss "brain stuff," so that we can more effectively coach our clients. We have discussed some terrific books, such as Your Brain at Work (Rock) Your Brain and Business (Pillay) and Biofeedback for the Brain (Swingle). 

This month's assignment, a book by psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel entitled Mindsight, provided many "aha moments" for me.  It not only reinforced all that I have learned to date, but also gave a far deeper insight into research on attachment theory and its applications for my clients from a coaching perspective.  It will also help you if you are a parent to understand the importance of being fully attuned to your children when they are developing.

What is attachment theory?  Researchers have discovered that early relationships not only shape how we tell the stories of our lives when we become adults, but also how our our brains physically develop during infancy and adulthood because of our experiences.   If we develop a secure relationship with a parent as an infant and child (e.g.,  we feel that our parents provide a safe place for us and we can rely on them), this will contribute to our well-being as a mature, balanced, integrated adult.  What I found interesting  was that even though a person may not have developed a secure attachment, all is not lost.  If another, less desirable form of attachment is formed (which ultimately impacted the person's physical  brain development), the the brain can be physically changed (neuroplasticity) and age isn't a factor.   Dr. Siegel provides a variety of striking cases including one involving a 92 year old man!  He showed how he targeted certain areas of the brain by providing mental exercises for the patient that actually "thickened" certain parts of the brain by growing and rewiring neurons to help the patient experience a happier, more fulfilling life. 

How will I use this knowledge as a coach?  That is a question I have yet to fully answer.  My guess is that once I recognize attachment may be an issue blocking our progress, I will enlist a psychologist or psychiatrist to fully investigate and supplement our coaching sessions and advise me on a course of treatment in a similar way that I refer out neural-feedback treatments.   I will be eager to meet with my group--some of whom are psychologists to get their take on this. I know this much...I will have to read it a couple more times for all the concepts to truly sink in.

If you have the interest in this topic, I would encourage you to check out Mindsight. While not exactly light reading, It is definitely fascinating .  If you don't have time, at least take a look at a two and half minute video where Dr. Siegel explains the brain. 

Key Points: 

The old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is simply not true.  The brain's capacity to grow new neurons and rewire is not governed by age.  Through a series of brain exercises and by using what Dr. Daniel Siegel calls Mindsight, we can gain perspective and be much more effective executives, parents, spouses, and friends.  His research-based, deep account of how early childhood experience contribute to physical brain development and thus form our perceptions and impact our relationships is nothing less than stunning. The fact that neuroplasticity enables us to physically change our brains is the great news.  So, just because you did not have Ozzie and Harriet as parents, does not mean you are doomed!

For additional one to two-minute sessions on other topics,  go to the Executive Coaching Corner Archive.