In 1970 Alvin Toffler published the book, Future Shock where he talked about the changes that were coming. It was widely read and very popular at the time. Generally, most found it hard to believe the predictions he was making. Fast forward 40 or 50 years and we see that Toffler’s predictions actually fell short of current day reality.
Machines that can think, learn and adapt are here. We face a potential future of unemployment or at a minimum significant underemployment with stagnant or declining wages and soaring levels of inequality. This is putting increasing stress on the fabric of our society.
Without a “hardware update” we risk being swept away by the tsunami of change that is rapidly heading our way. Our brain is far from prepared to embrace the challenges we face. Brain plasticity or neurogenesis refers to our brain’s ability to change and develop new habits at any age. Our brain has the ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections.
Most of us are operating day-to-day in what amounts to a chronic, low grade amygdala hijack. When we experience one of these hijacks, we find it increasingly difficult to concentrate as our focus shifts to what is troubling us. During these attacks our two amygdales flood our body with cortisol and we go into “fight, flight, freeze or submit” mode. When this happens we unconsciously revert to our existing paradigm of habits, attitudes and beliefs. This often causes us to overreact in ways we later regret.
Awareness is the first step in dealing with these attacks. If we do not notice that we are in the midst of a hijack we have no chance of getting back to emotional balance until the hijack has run its course. These amygdala hijacks often last for seconds, minutes, hours, days or even weeks. The need to reduce these hijacks through the development of our emotional intelligence has never been greater. Unfortunately, we see examples and experience the personal and organizational reality of these amygdala hijacks every day. This new type of emotional work represents the future of individual and organizational development.