The Physiology of Leadership – Reducing Stress and Staying Focused by Robin Rose

Drink lots of water – lack of water can cause you to be grumpy and irritable!

Three parts to our brain, Survival, Limbic and Thinking Brain

Survival Brain

70% to 90% of people operate in Survival Brain. The 4 physiological functions of our Survival Brain are breathing, pooping, circulatory system and reproduce. Survival brain does not “THINK”.

Attributes/Hints of hanging in the Survival Brain

Two primary needs of every individual – Safety and Validation

Your Survival Brain is hardwired in by age 3. When you see an adult throwing a fit and you think “he is acting like a two year old”, he is. That is residing in the Survival Brain.

If your Survival Brain is “on” your Thinking Brain cannot work at the same time.

In Survival Brain people tend to:

Anger is armor; inside they are a frightened person.

Body is always right. Body always tells the truth. At night when you lay down and all of a sudden you ache or have an overwhelmingly strong emotion, it is your body telling you what you have not dealt with during the day. Body gives you immediate input as an indicator of your day.

Mind/Body takes in 4000 bits of information a second, but can only process 1000 bits of info. This is why perhaps hours later you think of something and wonder “where did that come from?”. We take in more information than we can process.

Do you have any of these symptoms 2 to 5 times a month? If so, these are indicators of Survival Brain.

In Survival Brain you often have

We override our instincts, for instance, we are not meant to hurl down a freeway at 80 mph yet we do in a car. Not meant to jump out of airplanes and yet people sky dive. Survival Brain acts on instinct and emotions instead of values.

Positive uses of Survival Brain – this is where heroic action comes in and super human use of strength to save another.

You pay a huge price if you reside in Survival Brain. Firefighters are #1 in heart attacks and #2 in divorce.

First 10 years of your life your self worth and concept was formed. Based on what was said to you when you made mistakes. We only learn from our mistakes. Example: What foot did you enter the room with, what foot crossed the threshold first. Nobody knew, yet if you had tripped into the room, you would remember exactly what foot you entered with. Mistakes are what people watch. They rarely watch the good things but will remember your mistakes for a long time. What you say or what was said to you when you made mistakes is most important. For instance “hang in there you’re smart you’ll get it”. It has to be safe to make mistakes otherwise people get immobilized. In teamwork this is the most important aspect, it has to be safe to make mistakes. We spend 40 years reshaping the first 10 years of our life.

Women tend to:

Women and left handed men use both sides of the brain. Right handed men only use one side at a time. This is why when frustrated they can’t talk it out. Frustrated and stressed is one side and talking is the other side.

Men find safety in positioning. They walk into a room and access the situation. They tend to:

In a stressful situation men tend to:

Survival Brain can’t process information or reflect accurately. Testing anxiety – in survival brain you don’t test well even if you knew all the information going into the test. If you have someone you trust ask them what do I do when I don’t get my way or am having a fit. When in Survival Brain you can’t make joy chemicals. Survival Brain negatively influences communication and positions you “against” others. Fighting mode.

When in Survival Brain you are the last to know, but you are sure you are right. Learn to know your triggers.

What are your physical, emotional and behavioral clues.

You can’t out think someone who is not thinking! (In Survival Brain)

The Limbic System (emotional brain)

Controls hormones and emotions

No emotion = no decision making

Limbic Brain connects with others limbic system to regulate. Social contagion – what others limbic system is doing we interlock with (love, fear, anger, etc.) Other people join with a calm leader. Every other system is a closed loop system. The Limbic Brain can’t self regulate or comfort. Often it is whose approval do you need in the room, that is who you lock with. Your mood can alter the mood of a group you are working with. Emotions have a collective existence. As a leader of a group or team your attitude sets the tone for the entire room or office. We can interlock emotions for up to 6 – 8 hours.

The first 10 seconds that you meet someone impacts them. Facial expression, body language, openness

Get mirrors up around the room, know what your face says when you don’t get your way.

Memory and feeling are linked. Lean forward, make eye contact, uncrossed arms (all this says “I’m listening”

We catch the attitudes of others around us, just like we catch a cold. We become like the 5 people we are around the most. If around negative people/emotions you must have a strong emotional limbic system to overcome.

Thinking Brain

What you eat affects what brain you go into first thing in the morning. Eat sugary refined foods (donut, etc) first thing and you enter your Survival Brain. Survival Brain says I need nutrition and I haven’t gotten it. Thinking Brain is complex carbohydrate, protein, water.

Thinking Brain:

Thinking Brain Indicators:

What are you like when you are in your Thinking Brain? How would others describe you?

If someone yells, or you slam on your brakes because a deer jumped out in front of you, pay attention to your body. If you changed your breathing pattern, you just entered Survival Brain. When you hold your breath you just sent a message to your Survival Brain that you are “under attack”. When under attack our body releases and engages hormones. When under attack mode is engaged it is impossible to access the Thinking Brain. Notice you hold your breath when you worry, are upset, have negative thoughts, etc. If you have a negative thought you immediately hold your breath. If you hold your breath for 8 seconds chemicals are released, can put you into Survival and on into tantrums.

Holding your breath turns off thinking and health.

Chest Breathing – activates only 30% of your lungs and activates Survival Brain.

Belly Breathing – puts you into the Thinking Brain and uses the full potential of your lungs. It produces more oxygen.

We need 17,000 breaths a day but rarely get to that.

Two proper breaths turn off cortisol

When we exhale like a sigh of relief, message is sent to the brain that we are safe.

Second Exhalation releases:

Serotonins                                                and                                Endorphins

Relaxes calms                                                                                Reduce Pain

Reduces anxiety                                                                        Increase alertness

Regulates appetite                                                                        Clarify thinking

Improves sleep                                                                        Increases pleasure

Being in a state of Allostasis – can prevent illness

Homeostasis – balanced state

50% of our toxins come out through exhalation

We need to learn to relax and have a stomach ( if you are holding it in you are not breathing properly)

How to breathe:

Square breathing

Breathing moves you to your Thinking Brain and makes you aware of your body. “Oh, I’m tired.” In Survival Brain adrenaline is released and you don’t know or are not aware of how you body feels.

Your staff will match your breathing automatically. We are constantly reading each other.

15 minutes can impact their:

5 minute walk gets us breathing, breaks stress-feedback loop.

Most important times to breath during the day

If you overeat, but are not stressed you gain weight from earlobe to feet.