When I began studying human performance back in the early ‘80s I was full of questions. There was in fact very little published literature on the impact of the environment on DNA, our cells and the brain, and how these influence the way we develop behaviors.
The classical literature in the field treated the brain as a black box (to borrow an analogy from my good friend Dr. Dan Diamond). We had evidence of people’s response to the environment in the form of the things they did, and we could ask them about how they felt about their experiences. Behavioral scientists could even predict certain behaviors based upon reflex and the theory of conditioned response. But we had little idea how behaviors linked together neurologically, how habits were formed, or how we could unlearn an old behavior and adopt a new one. These things were literally hidden from view inside a black box that some believed we would never be able to peer into.
Whenever researchers proposed a theory or created a new therapy to treat behavioral problems they were often guessing, and hoping that these methodologies would help people, and make a positive difference to their lives. As a result psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience were not considered ‘hard sciences’ because much of the theory was untestable.
All the while, biologists, quantum physicists, psychologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists, assisted by breakthroughs in the technology of peering into the black box, were gathering two types of evidence:
1. Evidence that the brain’s functions are localized and fixed and therefore would one day be able to be predicted, and controlled.
2. Evidence of anomalies to the accepted map of brain localization that signaled the brain might be plastic - highly changeable and not fixed, and that our approach to the brain and behavior was built on a false premise.
Today, some thirty years later, science has accepted the view that the brain is plastic, and that behaviours and memories are not stored in fixed locations. The evidence is overwhelming.
This new science is starting to be taught in universities all over the world, although it will be years before high-school biology textbooks reflect it. And in the ‘real’ world where people work and live together, we behave as if the older theory is still intact. We count humans as a cost rather than an exceptional resource, and change as something to be feared and survived rather than embraced.
In our interactions with each other in our homes and workplaces, in our hospitals and communities, many of us labor under the illusion that once injured, the brain cannot heal itself, and that ‘old dogs cannot be taught new tricks.’
My own experiences and obsession to understand the deeper biological underpinnings of behavior has of course influenced my practical work as a hypnotherapist and personal effectiveness expert.
In working to improve the performance of groups and individuals in the workplace, I was aided by my knowledge of the mind, and assisted by productivity and time-management tools.
Over and again I would be asked by managers to help them teach Stephen Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ to their teams, or embed the ideas in the latest Time Management Blockbuster into the workweek. Books like David Allen’s ‘Get Things Done’ or Tim Ferris’ ‘4 Hour Work Week,’ contain helpful strategies to more effectively manage the things we do in the limited time available to us.
These strategies cannot and should not be undervalued. They provide useful tips to getting more done in less time.
However, unless we address the workings of the ‘black box’ of the mind, all we are ever doing is tinkering around the edges of productivity. While it is important to know how to handle the ‘stuff’ of our lives - the stuff that happens to us, the stuff we experience around us, and the stuff we do - our habits do not change through intellectual realization alone.
The reason for this is that habits are laid down over time and by repetition. Any new habit has to compete for resources within the brain and is competing with well-resourced, highly entrenched older habits. This is why, for most of us, habit change is a difficult process filled with fits, starts and reversals. It’s why our old, bad habits reassert themselves so prominently when we are under pressure and most in need of newer, better ones, and why we resist change in any area of our lives.
It is when our jobs are on the line, our company is in trouble or budgets are squeezed that we should be able to rise to the challenge and demonstrate highly productive behaviors. In my experience, working with sales teams around the world, the opposite is usually the case.
Eleven years ago I met Matt Church, the founder of the ‘Thought Leaders’ community, and he encouraged me to turn my passion for understanding the ‘black box’ of the mind into a practical guide for individuals and managers. ‘The Energy Code’ is the end result of that process.
My purpose then in writing this book is to provide a practical guide for the layman: extending the influence of complex multi-disciplinary fields like epigenetics, neuroscience, quantum biology and concepts like brain plasticity into our homes and workplaces and into our schools and hospitals, so we do not miss the opportunity to revolutionize the way we work together, the way we heal after trauma and build resilience into our personalities.
The Energy Code is a very practical book designed to help people to understand how the mind works and how three things determine behavior:
1. Our genetics,
2. Our environment, and
3. Our energetic health
It is my sincere wish that you, the reader, embrace the ideas and concepts in this book and question them, test them and prove them for yourself. If out of that comes a positive change in the way you interact with your family, work colleagues and community, my purpose will have been met.
The Energy Code is published by Motivational Press and due for release in the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2014.