Stuck in the Past: 5 Steps to Personal Growth

Stuck in the Past: 5 Steps to Personal Growth

If you’ve ever worked with a colleague who tells the same old stories over and over, you understand how people can distort reality to suit their purposes. And yet, most of do our own version of repetitive storytelling. We form an identity of ourselves as a team members, colleagues, or friends by telling personal stories about our past. And we project the lessons we’ve learned onto our present situations. We let our past influence our present reality and in doing so, affect our future. The fact is, personal stories serve to protect our egos — it’s human nature. Our stories aren’t about what actually happened, but rather what we told ourselves happened. They’re founded on real events, but mostly on real emotions. They are stories that we’ve invented based on how we interpreted things back then. Reframing Reality Few of us take the time to evaluate our stories for how well they help us navigate the complexities of present day relationships and work teams. We hold onto the past because it’s all we know for sure. Then we try to figure out how we can do better the next time we’re faced with the same emotions. Strong emotions are retained by the brain as memories of events. Without strong emotions, we forget events easily. So we end up with many memories of anger, disappointment, embarrassment, guilt, and revenge, which far outweigh our positive memories. You can see how holding on to such memories primes the brain to be alert and distrusting in the future for similar situations. Yet with awareness of these strong emotions, we can choose to question...
The Human Factor: A New Era of Relationships

The Human Factor: A New Era of Relationships

Human interactions rule our lives. Our social nature may be even more valuable than we realize. In a world where technological advances increasingly provide solutions and perform jobs, our social skills can increase or diminish our value. But most of us—professionals, employees and managers alike—undervalue our social skills. This is not an option in an era of dwindling job opportunities. “When people in an organization develop a shared and intuitive vibe for what’s going on in the world, they’re able to see new opportunities faster than their competitors, long before that information becomes explicit enough to read about in the Wall Street Journal. They have the courage of their convictions to take a risk on something new.” –Dev Patnaik, Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy (FT Press, 2009) The term “Information Age” insufficiently captures our future professional landscape. We face unprecedented data streams, vast knowledge networks and unknown problems. Success hinges on how well we can work in groups. CEOs recognize that teams are more productive, creative and valuable than individual workers—as long as team members work cohesively, using their finely honed social intelligence. There’s a growing demand for relationship workers: people who are socially astute, no matter the field. As neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga aptly states: “Natural selection mandated us to be in groups in order to survive…that is how we are built. Without our alliances and coalitions we die. It was true…for early humans. It is still true for us.” Most of us assume our jobs cannot be taken over by a computer, but history and technological advances prove us wrong. There...