Go Deep, Be
Courageous, Emerge a Winner!
Serving the Business and Professional
Community since 1983!
N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.
Coaching Corner: Now in Session
September 6, 2012: Mindsight--It's Never too Late to Rewire Your Brain!
This issue will be a departure from my standard executive
coaching case studies. I belong to a neuroscience group comprised
primarily of other executive coaches. We get together once a month to
discuss "brain stuff," so that we can more effectively coach our clients. We
have discussed some terrific books, such as Your Brain
at Work (Rock) Your Brain and Business (Pillay)
Biofeedback for the Brain (Swingle).
This month's assignment, a book by psychiatrist Dr. Daniel
Mindsight, provided many "aha moments" for me. It not only
reinforced all that I have learned to date, but also gave a far deeper insight
into research on attachment theory and its applications for my clients from a
coaching perspective. It will also help you if you are a parent to
understand the importance of being fully attuned to your children when they
What is attachment theory? Researchers have
discovered that early relationships not only shape how we tell the stories of
our lives when we become adults, but also how our our brains physically
develop during infancy and adulthood because of our experiences. If we develop a secure
relationship with a parent as an infant and child (e.g., we feel that
our parents provide a safe place for us and we can rely on them), this will
contribute to our well-being as a mature, balanced, integrated adult.
What I found interesting was that even though a person may not have
developed a secure attachment, all is not lost. If another, less desirable form of attachment
is formed (which ultimately impacted the person's physical brain development), the the
brain can be physically changed (neuroplasticity) and age isn't a factor. Dr.
Siegel provides a variety of striking cases including one involving a 92 year
old man! He showed how he targeted certain areas of the brain by
providing mental exercises for the patient that actually "thickened" certain
parts of the brain by growing and rewiring neurons to help the patient experience a happier, more fulfilling
How will I use this knowledge as a coach? That is a
question I have yet to fully answer. My guess is that once I recognize
attachment may be an issue blocking our progress, I will enlist a psychologist
or psychiatrist to fully investigate and supplement our coaching sessions and
advise me on a course of treatment in a similar way that I refer out
neural-feedback treatments. I will be eager to meet with my
group--some of whom are psychologists to get their take on this. I know this
much...I will have to read it a couple more times for all the concepts to
truly sink in.
If you have the interest in this topic, I would encourage
you to check out
Mindsight. While not exactly light reading, It is definitely
fascinating . If you don't have time, at least take a look at a
two and half minute video
where Dr. Siegel explains the brain.
adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is simply not true. The
brain's capacity to grow new neurons and rewire is not governed by age.
Through a series of brain exercises and by using what Dr. Daniel Siegel calls
Mindsight, we can gain perspective and be much more effective executives,
parents, spouses, and friends. His research-based, deep account of how
early childhood experience contribute to physical brain development and thus
form our perceptions and impact our relationships is nothing less than stunning.
The fact that neuroplasticity enables us to physically change our brains is the
great news. So, just because you did not have
Ozzie and Harriet as parents, does not mean you are doomed!
For additional one to two-minute sessions on other topics, go to the
Coaching Corner Archive.