Survive Belong Become
We are living in a time of great possibility and danger. Never before have so many people sought to improve themselves, to achieve their full potential. Millions of dollars are spent every year on self help books and seminars. Many companies now have yoga classes and meditation rooms. Across the country, thousands are signing up for online courses to learn how to be happy, live wholeheartedly, and thrive. But at the same time, society has never been more overweight, addicted, and stressed.
More than one-third of American adults are obese. One in ten Americans are addicted to alcohol, drugs or both. And one in four, 25%, suffer from depression. How can we simultaneously be spending more time and money than ever on improving ourselves and yet be sliding into more depression and despair? It’s because people are missing the key ingredient for real transformation. The secret sauce, if you will, for truly achieving their potential and becoming their best selves. They are working against their biology instead of harnessing its power.
As a species, humans have not changed much over the past 10,000 years. We are still biologically wired to live as small tribes of hunter-gatherers. Everything about our brains and bodies is designed to help us do 3 things: 1) survive, 2) belong and 3) become, to achieve our potential. The problem is that you can’t achieve the third without addressing the first two.
I am a leadership coach and consultant and am in the business of helping people and organizations achieve their highest potential. Over the past 20 years, I have worked with thousands of adults and time and again, and I noticed that there was a consistent pattern going on. It didn’t matter if I was working with a business, a government agency, a college or a non-profit. It didn’t matter if the people I was helping were engineers or teachers or nurses or students. It crossed every aspect of diversity you can imagine including age, gender, race and ethnicity.
What I saw was that most people are actually working against their biology, on a daily basis, to undermine their success. While they wanted to focus on achieving their potential, they would simultaneously be overriding key aspects of how we are wired,making it impossible to reach their goals. I call this The Potential Paradigm. We need to shift how we think about human potential and harness the power of our biology instead of working against it. Through my blog and upcoming book, I will share with you the compelling research that supports Survive Belong Become ™ and give you key takeaways you can use today to start harnessing your own potential.
The image that comes to my mind is the double helix of our DNA. It twists, almost forming a staircase where each step takes us higher in our transformation. Our DNA is the very core of our biology forming the foundation of our ongoing process forward. We cannot become our best until we address the initial levels of survival and belonging. Once we begin to achieve our own potential, we can inspire others to do the same.
At our core, we are designed to survive and many aspects of brain and nervous system function to detect potential danger and help us live through it. These systems are automatic and beyond our control, yet we often try to override something that cannot be overridden. This affects everything from what we eat, how movies affect us, how we heal, learn, and even use our smartphones. Today’s workplaces are often set up in ways that trigger off our survival mechanisms, undermining the productivity and potential of the employees. Learn more.
We are also wired to belong – to live with others and form deep and meaningful connections. To a large degree, we are still very much like our tribal ancestors who lived in groups of 150. It’s ironic that we are wired to navigate a very different world than the modern one we currently inhabit. This causes all kinds of problems in people’s lives, both at work and at home. We also have painful experiences around times we did not belong, often from our childhoods, that create lifelong patterns of behavior that undermine our ability to build positive relationships. In my work, I see this all the time. Learn more.
The good news is that we are also wired to become – to achieve our full potential. We naturally seek to grow. In fact, studies show that we are the most motivated and engaged when we have opportunities to learn and improve. We have been gifted with an internal compass (our emotions) that guides us in the right direction, provided we are not numbing them out with things like food, alcohol or media. Learn more.