Free won’t – the 0.2 seconds that could save you

It’s Easter. Chocolate is everywhere. And I am calorie counting for the first time in my life! Luckily for me, the things I know about the way my brain operates can be used to my advantage!

Dr Jeffrey Schwartz, a Research Psychiatrist (UCLA School of Medicine) with the appearance and energy of a mad scientist,was an engaging speaker at the recent International Coaching Federation Australasian Conference.

Our brains are continuously processing – ‘ambient neural activity’ is constant and we have little control over the thoughts that enter our conscious awareness.  We do have control over the decision to act. Jeffrey Schwartz refers to this as ‘veto power’, or the exercise of ‘free won’t’.

The brain sends a desire to act (eg to reach out and grab chocolate) 5/10 of a second before acting. We have the last 0.2 of a second of that time to choose to exercise ‘free won’t’!

You can see how this is useful in counting calories – I am getting better and noticing my thoughts and choosing ‘free won’t’.

What application does this have to leadership? Your energy is much better spent on exercising your ‘veto power’ than it is on trying to control your thoughts.

Our behaviour, particularly when under stress, is usually the result of habit. Unresourceful habits can be replaced with new habits that better serve you. Notice what you are about to do – build awareness. Then make a conscious choice – free will or free won’t?

Where could a focus on ‘free won’t’ enhance your effectiveness as a leader?

Coaching is an ideal way to build your awareness and build your choices – tap into your ‘free won’t’ fast.

Have an Extraordinary day