Why You Hate Going to Work And How to Change That

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  • It’s draining
  • Nothing is about what it says it is about
  • The budget meeting won’t be about who needs what for the business to flourish best
  • Your simple request for assistance in solving a problem will be subject to days of passive resistance for no visible reason while pressure continues to mount on you to deliver despite the fact you can’t get a response
  • Most of all there is an atmosphere of mistrust, a constant rumbling of subterranean motivation about almost everything that happens, from the distribution of sales leads to the utterly unfair performance metrics by which you are measured.

This is a fear based organisation working substantially from the primitive brain centered on the Amygdala. To be clear any model of the brain is necessarily incomplete and is no more than a model. The one I use here is simple but fit for purpose.

Simple model of the brain

The pre-frontal cortex is the bit we think of as ‘I’, the bit we use to relate to the world around us and to interact with one another.

When this is largely influenced and guided by the intellectual brain we usually get things right. The intellectual brain is good at making realistic assessments of situations and also very good at creating innovative solutions.

By contrast the primitive brain comprising the Amygdala, the Hippocampus and Thalamus only assesses situations on the basis of a potential threat to survival. It considers everything in the most negative light, it is obsessive, always on the look out for trouble and generally responds to situations either with aggression, anxiety or depression if it perceives a threat.

The key thing is that very often it is the thought patterns we have around events that cause the initial anxiety that persuades the primitive brain it is time to step in and respond to circumstances with it’s small stock of survival behaviours. When this happens chemicals are released by the thalamus that actually reduce and even largely shut down the higher or intellectual brain functions. This is when we have blind panic. There is, of course, a sliding scale.

The organisation or work place described above is working some distance down the scale towards the primitive end. That makes it an awful place to work, not least because if everyone around you is working from a basically negative, anxious, aggressive or depressed place it can be difficult not to get drawn into it. Your own primitive brain will certainly encourage that, after all it’s necessary for your survival right?

Wrong.

When you are in the grip of fear, anxiety and depression you don’t make a realistic assessment of situations which occur. You don’t create great innovative solutions. You don’t think very well at all and research carried out on armed forces personnel in the US indicates that your ability to make decisions drops off a cliff. No wonder fear based organisations consistently fail or reel shakily from near disaster to near disaster.

So what can you do about hating going to work? You can either leave or become a catalyst for change. But before deciding, you first want to be working in your higher brain, free from anxiety, anger or depression so that you are making good decisions that will genuinely serve you well.

There are a number of ways of doing this. Mindfulness, a westernisation of a Buddhist practice is enjoying a lot of popularity at the moment for example. A certain state of detachment and calm is achievable.

For those who want to address specific problems or issues however the neuroscience based approach to coaching (Liminal Coaching) I have been developing with Dave Gray, (founder of Xplane http://xplaner.com/ ) may be of interest.

This approach to coaching is quite new and has it’s roots in the same soil as Dave’s elegant description of the new discipline of Liminal Thinking http://liminalthinking.com/ a great resource if you are considering the need for either personal or organisational change.

If Liminal Thinking is the doorway to great changes then Liminal coaching can be the key to unlocking it.

I’ve created a free MP3 for founders that is a guided journey to help improve focus and clarity.