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Reinvention: It’s something you can do

Reinvention: It’s something you can do

Fourteen months after the first one, I tried to put together a Reinvention Forum with the Ho‘ohana Community of my Talking Story blog (which by the way, is a virtual community you are warmly welcomed to join into).

I’ll be frank: I had my doubts that I could pull it off, and as things do have a tendency to happen as your expectations have led them to, the entries for the forum overwhelmingly happened in the final hours before the submission deadline. But they DID happen, and we nearly tripled the articles from the first time around.

Reinvention seems to be a scary word for a lot of people; it ranks right up there with, gulp, “change.” If not scary, it’s intimidating, something you think that you could never do, for it takes someone else with a bigger, revolutionary kind of innovative idea, someone brilliant, …but surely not you. For many, reinvention implies you have to start from scratch and be an Einstein-like inventor, or be an incredibly brave idealist.

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Not true. Learning to reinvent little by little is a way of grooming your own potential for leadership initiative. Your idea doesn’t have to be completely original; we can all reinvent by putting our personal signature on an idea we love which may already exist. There is an incredible amount of unmet opportunity dormant in the wasteland of unsupported ideas which were abandoned by those who weren’t tenacious enough, or who feared making mistakes when they didn’t need to.

Sometimes we reinvent to fix an irritation. I admit this is where my own contributions to the Reinvention Forum happened with the articles I’d written on Human Resources and compensation design. Irritations become very hopeful, positive and proactive within an enthusiastic and optimistic effort to reinvent the processes associated with them. Think of the way a pearl is created around a grain of sand which has become an irritation in an oyster, or the way a talented muralist transforms a wall which previously attracted too much graffiti.

Reinvention is something we can all do. The only question is if we will.

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For me, the word reinvention is not at all intimidating. It has other connotations. An easy way to groom more creativity. The willingness not to give up on something promising, but still slightly flawed. The opportunity to collaborate with others on synergistic effort, uncovering a third alternative; not mine, not yours, but something better entirely. The triumph of our human capacity to make things matter. And as far as virtual communities go, a forum meant to be where people don’t just complain, they generously seek to offer solutions.

Visit our Reinvention Forum on Talking Story and you will see what I mean. Add your own thoughts and comments to help us flesh out our ideas. Counting this post, you have 21 different opportunities to do so. Here is a run-down of the topics you’ll find there.

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Reinventions at Work and in Business:

1. Reinventing Brainstorming at Work
2. In search of a job spec that inspires
3. Reinventing Business, Making the Transition from Advertiser to Facilitator
4. Employee Evangelism
5. Coyote and Jackalope
6. How to Kill Creativity
7. Robots R Us: Crisis in Customer Service
8. Manifesting Possibility
9. The Most Valuable 10% of your Job Description
10. Meeting Planner | Organizer | Worksheet
11. The Resistance
12. Want to be a great place to work?
13. Why do young leaders leave organizations?
14. Vaporizing Limitations
15. Information Sharing: Don’t Hoard your Knowledge
16. Passion for the Good Customer Experience: Circle Recognition
17. A Reinvention Revolution; 3 Sacred Cows to Start With
18. The Reinvention of Human Resources
19. Got a job to fill? Tell it like it is
20. Great Project to consider: A Compensation Overhaul

I fully intend to have a Reinvention Forum again. Perhaps you’ll be there as a contributing author the next time, telling us about your own reinvention success story. I hope so; there is a wealth of potential just waiting for its day in the sun, and its got your name on it.

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Articles Referenced here:
Reinventions at Work and in Business: a Ho‘ohana Community Forum
Synergy: The Third Alternative
Looking for Leadership – any ideas?
From Mistake to Marvel

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: And the Survey says?

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Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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