Is “neuro” trending?
A few days ago, and after a talk on neuroleadership, a participant came up to me and asked me if neuro was just a matter of trends. I answered him by saying, “It’s true, it seems as though neuro is popular now, but it’s not a trend.” In this new post, I’m going to try to explain myself a little more.
Neuro is not –nor should it be considered– a trend, a novelty, a tendency… not even a brand. It goes without saying that these days, we put the prefix “neuro” before everything. Today we can speak of the neuroeconomy, neuromarketing, neuropsychology, neuroeducation, neuroarchitecture, neuroethics, neurocriticism, neurofashion (the perception of beauty and the sense of aesthetics are purely human qualities), neurogastronomy, and even neurotheology or neurospirituality. But, in my point of view, the founding (which for some has been invasive) of neuroleadership responds to the need to take yet another step in terms of the understanding of our behavior and the knowledge of our true, innate potentials – beginning with the knowledge of our brain.
Neuro impacts our lives so that we can understand our conduct, our way of making decisions, and our way of relating to others and ourselves. Neuro has always been there. Although, in my opinion, it has been kept in the background, without being recognized or discovered in terms of its multi-tasking traits (the brain thinks, the brain feels, the brain decides, the brain imagines) and multifaceted nature (individual brain, family brain, social brain, organizational brain, spiritual brain) – and, in this sense, the role of neurosciences has been, and continues to be, conclusive and fundamental. Having said that, it is undeniable that, if I want to lead my life, I have to start first by leading my brain. By getting to know the machine and becoming familiar with the vehicle that guides my body, my mind, and my existence.
The popularity of neuro must not be reduced to a mere passing, transitory trend. It would be a serious mistake to forget about neuro and to fail to consider it. We are destined to evolve and, in that sense, neuro urges, neuro values, and neuro beckons. And when I say “neuro,” I mean “brain;” and when I say “brain,” I mean “information” – in the end, that is the only thing that the brain nourishes itself with: information. We are a history full of data and information (genetic, cultural, social, family, and personal information); however, that does not make us fixed and limited.
We can change, renew, and transform continuously the information logged in our brain thanks to neuroplasticity, the ability that the brain has to restructure itself and create new neural connections. As my colleague and friend Sergio Blancafort says, “thanks to Neuroscience, precisely, we have stopped understanding the human brain to be a prison that determines our reality, and we have started to see it as a malleable organ which is at the service of reality. We don’t want to deny the importance of this organ; instead, we wish to understand that being trapped under the seduction of its discourse does not take us anywhere different. We mustn’t forget that the brain is the only organ that explains itself.”
As Ramon y Cajal said, “All human beings, if they put their minds to it, can become the sculptors of their own brain.” And neuro is about precisely that. It’s about sculpting, shaping, creating, implanting, and transforming.
For some, introducing neuro into all existing disciplines is a clear abuse and it gives us a little too much “brain,” or the false appearance of trying to make something more scientifically serious or rigorous. It seems as though if we add “neuro” to the beginning of the topic, it becomes more credible and, undoubtedly, more profitable.
There is also a certain susceptibility and a certain mistrust in terms of the euphoria that neuro results in during this day and age. With the fear that other disciplines, such as psychology, psychiatry, and anthropology will be affected by this excess “scientism;” as if not having “neuro” as an accompaniment would take away their base and solid foundation. Nevertheless, I prefer to think that this “supposed” excess or abuse of the word neuro is more in response to the urgency of understanding the machine that sustains us as rational beings rather than being merely for marking purposes.
It is true that knowing about neuro is not going to solve the problems that we have to face day in and day out. The theory, without being accompanied by experience, without the power of action, is completely null and void – it does not change or transform. But a good understanding of neuro and its enormous potential can make the journey towards self-realization and the search of happiness easier. In a world that is becoming more and more global each day, full of incessant changes and innovations, it is fundamental for us to turn to the neuro world.
Neuro holds the answers to many of the great questions: “Who are we?” “Where do we come from?” “Where are we going?” “What can we become?” Neurosciences are helping us to understand how our brain and the nervous system work to be able to make use of them in all their glory and live a more conscious life – a fuller, more satisfied life without the restrictions of our mind being conditioned to our history, to our education, to our culture, and even to our genetics. We have the power to handle information however we want and to build the life that we really want to have.
We have spent too many years subordinate to lower levels of consciousness, dominated by automatic, default responses to ensure our survival. Now is the time to respond to life from more evolved levels of consciousness; the time to make decisions which are more and more thoughtful and conscious; the time to exercise a type of leadership that is supported by higher-level abilities which, through brain evolution, have been granted to us as human beings within the structure of the brain itself. And it is undeniable that neuro is the one thing that will allow us to achieve all this.
If we put the word “neuro” with the word “leadership” (neuroleadership), we get a discipline that is in charge of understanding how our brain, our neuro, influences our decision-making processes, our problem-solving abilities, our learning processes, our motivation, our team training, our creativity, our innovation, and our change management.
Neuro is in everything.
It’s in individuals: as an individual, conscious brain.
It’s in collectives: as a collective, conscious brain.
It’s in family: as a family, conscious brain.
It’s in organizations: as an organizational, conscious brain.
It’s in society: as a social, conscious brain.
The fact of the matter is that, in terms of each one of these different facets (individual, collective, family, organization, and social facets), we can function with the flexibility, resilience, and creativity inherent to our brain. To put it another way, we can become more and more conscious and intelligent; without the labels which are inherent to a mind conditioned to what it should or shouldn’t be, and with the ability to erase the marks of our past, of our history, and even of our own genetics… with total freedom to come to “be” – in full harmony with what I think, I feel and I decide.
I control my brain, not the other way around.