Lisa Arie, CEO, Vista Caballo
Recent studies show the physical connections between the heart and the brain profoundly influence the decisions humans make.
This is automatic. It is also undeniable. The more effective your heart systems are, the better the higher functions of the brain will operate. The result: more intelligent decisions and a more harmonious life.
Being aware of this simple fact can deeply affect how successful business leaders and their companies can be. Leaders who are attuned to their body’s interconnectedness see more clearly and more immediately the short- and long-term impacts their decisions are having. And they adjust accordingly. Understanding more about the heart and how it affects the brain helps leaders slow down and adjust their thinking. This is a powerful way to be more present, unlock potential, and have more impact on charting stellar company growth.
No matter how successful you are, there is always a surprise around the corner. Having the ability to interpret the business environment differently is an empowering skill for leaders who no longer want to fear the shifting earth beneath every business and react to this reality with less stress. Dealing with an unexpected outcome can knock the wind out of anyone. Dealing with continual unexpected outcomes can lead to burnout and turning to unnecessary control mechanisms. When leaders learn to go beyond their conditioning—the more successful they are, the more challenging this can be—and realize it’s natural to feel uncomfortable with new approaches, their peripheral vision widens and they can see opportunities others cannot. Staying rigorous in your heart, constantly reassessing your intent and the status quo, allows you to find your edge again—and keep it. Focusing on your intent and impact mitigates the need to defend yourself against losing your power to make things happen or losing your edge. When we stop living transactionally—checking off items on lists—we can align intent with impact; the impact gets bigger with less effort, and the vision gets clearer. It becomes an authentic, whole-picture vision from the heart that inspires and motivates employees and peers. Which means more success. And perhaps more happiness.
To lessen the gap between intent and impact, we need to understand the heart is part of intelligence. You would not run your company with only one division. Nor could you. The same applies to using all the intelligence systems that comprise the human design. The heart is constantly sending signals to our brain and vice versa.
Neurocardiology has shown us that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. It communicates with neurotransmitters and hormones. The nervous system within the heart (known as the “little brain” or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Moreover, the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of the higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing. Thus, the brain sciences are now showing us that it is our abilities to see emotional landscapes that prevent corporate, professional, and personal train wrecks. The heart’s electrical field is almost 60 times greater in amplitude than that of the brain and is more than 5,000 times greater in strength than the brain’s electrical field (McCraty, Tiller, & Atkinson, 1996).
Rollin McCraty and fellow heart-brain researchers, writing in 2009, concluded that “the energy field of the heart plays a crucial role in informing physiological function, cognitive processes, emotions, and behavior. When positive emotions are used to shift the heart’s pattern of activity into coherence, a global transformation in psychophysiological function occurs. This transformation results in increased physiological efficiency, greater emotional stability, and enhanced cognitive function and performance.”
If you are resistant to this science, that’s normal. But if you want to get ahead in an easier way—and stay ahead—it will be worth experimenting with it. You can google information. So can your competitor. Or you can read your environment and let your heart inform your brain via the multitude of neurons that connect the two. Your brain will come up with new strategies in the moment for the moment. This is how to use your intellectual rigor in conjunction with the heart to close the gap between your intent and your impact. Those of you who are instinctual will know exactly what I mean.
Described by Fast Company as the “CEO Whisperer,” Lisa Arie is an author, speaker, and the founder of Vista Caballo, an inclusive self-discovery center for a new breed of visionary leaders, thinkers, and explorers. Click here to see Lisa’s blog on the Huffington Post.