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I am a doctor with board certifications in neurology and addiction. I also have expertise and background in organizational change. I’m developing skills in machine/deep learning. I see behavior and behavioral change from some very different but interrelated perspectives. From medicine comes insight into how the brain works and how to make it work for you. From the field of organizational change management comes insight into what it takes to get organizations to adapt successfully to changing business circumstances or goals. From machine/deep learning comes insight into tomorrow’s products and services, and human challenges to living in machine ordered societies. In this blog I’ll consider a variety of topics which all circle around the focus of adaptive migration of behavior in response to changing life and work circumstances.
This era brings more rapid and extensive changes to people and society than has ever been previously experienced. The demands upon adaptive skill, flexibility, resiliency and intellectual ability have never been greater. We are not prepared by evolution for this extent and rate of change. Thus many people feel deep stress. Individuals and organizations succumb from core failures of adaptation and resiliency. Happiness can be elusive. Our brains need help and new techniques. We now need formal training in resiliency.
Work burnout is a problem. This is not only a problem for the individuals who are employees of an organization but also for the whole organization itself. Stress, frustration, confusion, and fear drive expedient behaviors which can threaten the most well-conceived plan for business execution. So, building resilience to change is an important skill for ongoing organizational success.
Career obsolescence is a problem. Machine/deep learning is taking over traditional jobs involving repetitive tasks. It is also poised to take over jobs based on data analysis or fit of data to rules (such as might be performed by a radiologist, accountant, lawyer, or professional driver). Whereas baby boomers might have expected to have one career for a lifetime, millennials now expect to migrate careers during their lifetime. A hundred years ago career retraining was rare; now it is routine, and might occur multiple times in a lifetime. Thus, people must now look at work very differently, even with the perspective that a particular job might not exist for a human any longer.
The human brain is challenged. Human beliefs are challenged. Human capabilities are challenged. This is a new era. Brains need to be more adaptive than ever, more ready to rethink and learn new. Yet, evolution did not expect such things. We did not grow as a species in these circumstances. We need to develop skills needed for today.
Our brains can be thought of as having basically two systems for responding to information: one that is more automatic and more “emotional”, and another that is more “thoughtful” and more analytical. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, has framed this as “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (the title of his 2011 book). It is critical to understand that as humans we use and should respect both systems. Both are necessary to being who we are. Both have been important in evolution to bring us to where we are. Yet, today presents new challenges, such as the need to keep up with rapidly changing perspectives. Our older, “emotional” system does some good things for telling us about the overviews of our circumstances; but, it doesn’t do well with rapid change. So, there are fundamental challenged to human behavior in this era.
I’ve called this website LimbicZen for a reason. One of today’s critical challenges is keeping emotional balance when demands are extensive and rapidly changing. The limbic system of the brain, our emotional system, not only sets our body for response patterns (to hunger, fear, anger, etc) but it also tells us important messages about how we “feel about” our life situation. It has been popular in recent decades to focus on scientific thinking and to downplay the role of emotions. However, this is a strategic error. Emotions are important insights into hidden beliefs, values, expectations and goals that guide overall behavior.
Zen Buddhism focuses on attaining enlightenment through experience and contemplation. From this, the word “zen” has come to carry a meaning of insight, enlightenment, and peacefulness – a tranquility born of knowing how things work and how to work with them. This site is not about Buddhism but it is about finding inner balance that leads to satisfaction and happiness in a rapidly changing world.
Together limbic+zen as used here mean finding effectiveness in life: accepting the reality of who we are (individually or collectively) and using this to move forward effectively to who we can be.
I hope you’ll enjoy these pages.