I don’t know about you but I have a severe case of digital recipient fatigue. I am exhausted by all the fear based cortisol inducing infomercials recommending: supplements, wellbeing and getting skinny! They all are telling us to pop this pill or take the latest garciniac extract from the latest South American weed.
With this in mind I thought it would be refreshing to talk about another kind of drug. The drugs that you can dose up on without a PayPal account. The type that gives you a free career high while leaving you feeling good in the morning. I am not messing with you, this is totally true and something we should be teaching our kids. It might stop them from accessing the wrong drugs when they enter their experimental years, I doubt anyone reading this avoided a little experimentation with either too many liquids or the odd sniff or puff of something naughty.
The stupendous news is that you can access all the neuro chemicals you need when you know how. The reality is you already do but you might be getting more of one than the other and you need to make sure they are balanced. I am going to cut straight to the point. Your brain is equipped with natural drivers, we have these in place to enable our functioning on the planet and they drive us to achieve both as individuals and teams. More importantly you need to access these to achieve in your career, you need to dose up.
This dose I am referring too comes directly from your own brain which releases drugs under the right stimuli. We all have slightly different neurochemistry but with a bit of examination and asking yourself the right questions you can make sure your are getting the correct dose.
For example, I know that when I am standing on top of a sky scraper near the edge my feet will tingle, I will get a massive shot of cortisol, my stomach will fill with butterflies and I will feel super light headed, that’s just me…. not everyone will react that way (hell even a photo of a great height will do it to me!).
That’s a negative example but it’s easy to demonstrate. Cortisol will make me feel alert, it’s deigned to make sure I am able to stay back from the edge and able to think fast and focussed. The down side is that to give me that adrenalin buzz it will shut down my auto immune system as it needs the energy, I am sure you will agree that’s less than ideal. This is what base jumpers love, they are addicted to it, so obviously their brains are different to mine! This is also the chemical responsible for what we call the ‘flight or fight syndrome’ that our bodies are designed to use when under threat, and too much of it can cause Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and that’s not good.
Now ask yourself what makes you feel this way? Is it public speaking, running in a marathon, meeting a new group of friends, a job interview, cold calling, going on a date, speaking to a CEO? Ask yourself what spikes your adrenalin, and make note. You need to understand what’s happening; once you know what it is it’s surprising how it shifts. Your brain is not the boss of you, you can be if you choose to understand how it’s wired.
Ok so let’s explore the good neurochemicals, the impacts of these are a little harder to detect but they are there, and the affects addictively accumulative. This is what you need to understand to get your daily DOSE:
Dopamine – In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior, you get a shot of this every time you achieve something, it drives you to get the lawns mown, to complete the urgent report for the boss, to finish an assignment and get the chores done on the weekend. Some of us love this more than others and social scientists would say that its related to conditioning, it’s the feel good chemical that you get a shot of every time you complete something on your to do or bucket list. Most workplaces have KPI’s in place to leverage off this one.
Oxytocin – Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the “bonding hormone”. Recent evidence highlights that oxytocin promotes ethnocentric behavior, incorporating the trust and empathy in-groups with their suspicion and rejection of outsiders. This is the bonding chemical, it comes into play when we bond with our significant others, build a tight team, when we fall in love, orgasm or have a strong chemical attraction. It’s also a selfless chemical as it causes us to put others needs first, parents feel a huge dose of this when they hold their baby for the first time. This is what contributes to work place culture and builds strong societies, ever get the sense of being excluded, this will drain your oxytocin, the opposite happens when your engaged in a great culture and it builds. Restructuring slams the building of oxytocin and destroys culture. At Leading Edge our number one value is that People Matter, we care about each other and it’s how we get our Oxytocin and also the next drug Serotonin by living that value.
Serotonin – is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), your bloods platelets, and the central nervous system (CNS). It contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. This is the regulator chemical that manages our organs and drivers, including sleep, appetite and makes us feel happy. We get a huge shot of this when we feel safe and valued by others. We need it to function and depression knocks on the door if we are not getting enough of it. Recent research shows that one of the best counters to depression is to do things for others, which in turns makes us feel valued and ups our serotonin levels.
Endorphins - The principle function of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they may also produce a feeling of euphoria very similar to that produced by other opioids. We get a shot of this 20 minutes into a run, when we laugh hard (as it hurts our internals) and it’s the preferred dose of those that are workaholics.
So which is your favourite dose? Recently I ran a half marathon, it started as a bucket list thing, a defiance of the aging process and while I was registering I discovered I could also fundraise for a charity of my choice. Without understanding what my drivers really where I was upping my dosage. I got dopamine when I achieved it, also oxytocin when our amazing support office and corporate teams held a pink breakfast and contributed the funds to my fundraiser, I got serotonin from the charity when I raised over my target goal and endorphins during my training and the event.
Work out what gives you your dose?
How does this apply to your career every day?
This is a guide that I use, feel free to steal this or adapt it;
D – I start each day looking at what I have to do, then I close down the day reviewing how that’s gone, I choose to accept that dopamine rush or I could beat myself up for not doing enough but I’m addicted to the sense of achievement!
O – Then I get the oxytocin from my job, I get to make sure we are living our values, that our people can trust us and that we are developing our people.
S – I work in a leadership team that thrives on trust, that’s why I choose to work for one of the best places to work in NZ where culture is king.
E –I get this dose from physical stuff, getting out for a walk, run, on my bike along with work with the doing of whatever is needed at work.
Think about your day, are you getting your dose?
Ask yourself honestly if there is anything missing?
How can you get more?