DNA of Healthy Conversations
When we join an organization, we enter a new community with expectations to make a difference, contribute, and to be part of something greater and bigger than we can accomplish on our own. And yet, all too often, we get sucked into territoriality or reactivity, leading to cycles of behavior that erode relationships, dissipate energy, and take away from being productive, healthy, high-performing individuals, teams, and organizations. We become harvesters of politics, power, control, and arrogance, with egos that fill organizations with invisible signs that say, “.., don’t go there.., you can’t do this.., you don’t know that.., save face, blame, protect, and win at another’s expense.”
When we are stuck in territoriality, protecting what we have and fearing loss, we are living at a low level of effectiveness, which ensures we will never achieve our greatest aspirations. In the face of negativity, positional power struggles and self-limiting beliefs, our courage and ambition shrink, and mundane mediocrity becomes a way of life. Often, the pattern becomes a death spiral, as we extinguish the faith and flame needed to risk and learn new and better ways of thriving with others.
When territoriality fills our organizations, the culture feels toxic, activating behaviors that cause us to retreat and protect ourselves. Our survival instincts are turned on, and our Vital Instincts turned off. While we are familiar with the notion of survival of the fittest and the term survival instincts—first introduced by Herbert Spencer and then developed by Charles Darwin in 1864 to explain evolution1—few of us are familiar with the term Vital Instincts.
Walter Bradford Cannon, a physiologist from Harvard Medical School first coined the term fight-or-flight in the early decades of the 20th century2 to explain a disruption in homeostasis caused by threats. I coined the phrase Vital Instincts to explain a whole other dimension of behavior that originates from the prefrontal cortex and heart connection activated when human beings are vitally connected through our higher brain connections. I believe the lower brain represents the ‘I-centric’ part of our humanity, and our higher brain represents the ‘We-centric’ dimensions of our humanity. When activated the higher brain elevates human beings from surviving to thriving.Download Article 1K Club