For this issue, I want to point out a key Neuroscience aspect as an additional Part II to the last blog highlighting the 4 stages of growth. This one is a simple aspect but one that is very key and particularly throughout our society.
The reader will remember that I pointed out the 4 levels of Growth and Development that from bottom to top were:
1. Give me
2. Use Me
3. Search Me
4. Make ME
I want to specifically highlight the “Use ME” level. You remember that I mentioned that on the surface this sounded good but in reality, it is not in the way it is applied because many that want to be used....do so because of self-interest and wanting to pat themselves on the back.
This centers in a Neuroscience aspect that we must understand that is often referred to as “The Dopamine Fix”. When certain things happen in our life journey, the brain and nerves release certain chemicals that make us feel certain things. As an example, when we feel a real connection with someone as sort of a family, it releases Oxytocin. If we feel like we are engaging in a fight they release Norepinephrine. If we are sleeping and resting, it releases Serotonin. The key is that when we feel rewarded, our nerves release Dopamine and this is the chemical that causes us to feel rewarded. This can be a very strong desire and this “Dopamine Fix” is often what drives people to “hangout at the Use Me level” because they want to “hangout” in that feeling.
True growth and development happens when one puts aside the Dopamine Fix and goes beyond it to the Search Me and Make Me stage.
There are many factors that can trap us to remain at Use Me and much of that has to do with the general Self Interest and typical narcissism inherent in our society. The reader may remember that I mentioned before that the old school sale approach can be characterized by “It is not important who I really am.....It is only important who I can convince you I am”. This is a key part of this Dopamine Fix and will hold us back.
Not only must we overcome the Dopamine Fix but we must also model this for our Rising Stars and help them understand how this can hold you back. At a dinner perhaps 2 months ago, my 9 year old great granddaughter told her daddy that “Daddy, I don’t want to be just like everyone else”. I told her how proud I was of her and this can be an insight that can bring in to her the willingness and courage to overcome the trap of the Dopamine Fix.
In conclusion, let me clearly say that feeling rewarded is not bad and it is a good thing. HOWEVER, do we have clarity and are we situationally aware of when this Dopamine Fix is holding us back in what we want to accomplish. As leaders, may we always understand this and also, may we always be willing to overcome the Dopamine Fix and ensure that it does not become a “gravitational force” that keeps us from soaring to our destiny. May we also model and lead that in our team and in our Rising Stars.
– Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC