What is neuroplasticity?
Some of you may be familiar with the rapidly growing field of neuroscience, which focuses on brain development and its role in behavior and cognitive functions. Over the last 15 years, neuroscientists from around the world have published fascinating research, most of which is absolutely mind-boggling. Pun intended.
Without going into the sheer complexity of the human brain and its many functions, I would like to share one specific finding which serves as a tremendous beacon of hope in terms of human potential. It’s called neuroplasticity and it’s a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Up until the 1960’s, researchers believed that changes in the brain could only take place during infancy and childhood. Furthermore, they believed that the brain was fairly permanent (or fixed) by the time an individual reached early adulthood. Thankfully, modern research has turned the once widely accepted belief of a fixed brain, upside-down. Today, neuroscientists are able to demonstrate that the brain continues to create new neural pathways over the course of our lifetime.
So, what does all of this mean for you and I, and how can we use this research to better equip our youth? The short answer is that we must begin to embrace the fact that each one of us can literally reshape our brain through a process known as mindfulness, or self-awareness. From this awareness, we can begin to implement strategies that will alter the neural pathways in our brain, which is known as self-management. Not surprisingly, these two skills (self-awareness and self-management) serve as a foundation for my Lenses of Leadership program.
Imagine a world in which every human being makes a conscious effort to be aware of his/her thoughts and feelings and is committed to using this awareness to create positive, sustainable change in their own lives and the lives of others. I personally think this kind of world is possible, and it is my personal mission to serve as a coach for countless others in this process.
I invite you to watch the following 2-minute video, created by yours truly, which describes one of the strategies I use when teaching self-awareness and self-management to youth.
P.S. Please excuse the shirt matching the background color. I’m still getting used to this video thing. 🙂