Cultivating awareness so new skills can flourish
I have noticed with interest that ‘awareness’ is being talked about in learning and performance circles much more frequently now, as organisations and learning professionals look to maximise the impact and value of their learning interventions.
What do we actually mean by awareness and why is it essential to learning and improving the performance of your people?
Trying to get scientists to agree the precise nature and location of awareness has been somewhat challenging. For a while it seemed that awareness was akin to love. Scientists, like ourselves have felt and witnessed the power of it but couldn’t prove its exact location before doing so.
Recent discoveries in fields such as neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology and the ‘little brain’ that resides in our heart suggest awareness is located within three main areas:
· The flow of energy and information throughout our system
· Within the embodied brain – the data and communication between our body and brain together
· The relationships we have (with our emotions, thoughts, perceptions, values, motives and other people etc.)
It is these areas that influence the depth, quality and level of awareness we access or not. Over the next few weeks through further video blogs we will explore these areas individually and in greater detail.
What is most interesting about awareness is how it develops choice. The more awareness we have the greater choice, options, possibilities and outcomes we have at our disposal. In learning, it’s easy to block awareness and thereby limit our choice and new possibilities for growth.
Imagine you have been told you are going on a training workshop and your immediate reaction is one of reluctance, scepticism or cynicism. After all, your mind says, you’ve been on these types of training before and they weren’t much good and so your internal dialogue is focusing on the story that this training will be a waste of time.
What we know about the internal dialogue is that it repeats and recycles the same mantra even when the story is unfounded and so your story recycles at least a dozen times before you arrive at the training venue. Because of the repetition, many other areas of your awareness have been engaged, including sensations, feelings, muscles/tension, breathing, posture, hormones and even enzymes such as ‘telomeres’ that affect the longevity of your cells and immune function.
One of the quickest ways to understand the quality and clarity of your awareness is through the body and the immediate feedback it provides you with. Generally speaking, notice the earliest signals of being closed, tight, tense or contracted in some way, this might include the quality of your breathing, your language, poise or flow. Contrast this with being in states of awareness that are far more open, flexible and curious. These also show up in the feedback we receive directly from our body.
From a scientific perspective they have been proven to benefit the health of the mind, balance emotional regulation, create more empathic relationships, increase resilience and be more approaching to challenging situations and increase our immune efficiency. But apart from these benefits, learning to cultivate deeper levels awareness is pointless!
I jest; as we will come to realise the future development of human potential almost entirely rests on our ability to access new degrees of awareness that will challenge our current thinking and the perceptions we hold.
If you’d like to enter a dialogue about awareness or other related topics with Glenn contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07867 531333