By Steve Gandara
If you have been following these articles, you have a very clear and realistic understanding that all the darkness around us is not nearly as dark as many would have you believe. You’ve also figured out by now that even if it was as dark as the media and so many others would have us believe, the choices you make individually and as a leader of your team make a significant difference in the reality that you experience at work as well as at home.
Social Contagion is another RADICAL concept that we are experiencing every single day, multiple times a day in TODAY’S NEW REALITY. The Oxford Dictionary defines Social Contagion as “The spread of ideas, attitudes, or behavior patterns in a group through imitation and conformity. Also called behavioral contagion.”
The American Psychological Association defines it as “the spread of behaviors, attitudes, and affect through crowds and other types of social aggregates from one member to another. Early analyses of social contagion indicated that it resulted from the heightened suggestibility of members and likened the process to the spread of contagious diseases. Subsequent studies suggest that social contagion is sustained by relatively mundane interpersonal processes, such as imitation, conformity, universality, and mimicry. Also called group contagion.
So how does it work? Watch this short National Geographic Brain Games Controlled Experiment Video and be ready to be amazed at how powerful Social Contagion is:
So, a terrible injustice takes place. The media spins various narratives on how awful, terrible actually is. Good people who believe in fairness and justice decide to stand up and use their freedom of speech to protest the injustice. Divisive, manipulative politically motivated anarchists decide that they want to take advantage of the situation to spin their narrative and hire criminals to infiltrate peaceful protests to promote destructive riots. Then they have their operatives drop off pallet loads of bricks and rocks at the demonstration sites for the criminals to use to start rioting and looting.
Pandemonium then breaks out. The next thing you know any number of the peaceful protestors get sucked into the destructive riots. You know the rest of the story by now. Then people see what’s taking place on tv and on social media and others think, say and share “wow free Nike stuff, free Apple stuff, free Sephora makeup, free Louis Vuitton, free Nordstrom suits and shoes.” In my house our teenagers and young adults actually received invitations from their friends to go participate in the “free cool stuff festival.” Thank God their values were strong enough to keep them from potentially being badly injured, killed or convicted incarcerated felons all because of Social Contagion. This is Social Contagion!
In Seattle where I live, this occurred. A friend in Dallas told me this past week that the same exact thing occurred there. In Seattle, our mayor to her credit communicated and coordinated with various leaders of protest groups about well-planned peaceful protests in advance. Then, according to her narrative everything was peaceful until “thousands of people came from out of nowhere and began to break windows, riot, loot and firebomb police cars.” The next thing you know many innocent protestors as well as bystanders found themselves as either victims of the violence or rioters and looters just because everybody else (their view) seemed to be doing it. This is Social Contagion!
I actually watched when a burning police car, had the flames subside as a young teenager (probably middle school age) inquisitively slipped over the once burning police car and grabbed an AR-15 assault rifle out of it. Fortunately, an officer was nearby, saw this take place and took the weapon away from him before who knows what could have happened with it.
This is social contagion! Lately it has been working against us. But guess what? Social Contagion can work for us as well.
Social Contagion can unify and heal our nation. Social Contagion can end the aggressive divisiveness and turn it into unity and alignment. Social Contagion can bring a cure and a preventative vaccine for the virus. Social Contagion can turn your business’s pandemic struggle into an amazing innovative RADICAL NEW REALITY that nobody can compete with. Social Contagion can bring your team and your business to levels of excellence that you never experienced before. Social Contagion is the power of your corporate culture that’s likely working against you right now below the surface in your people’s minds and heart’s where you don’t see it because of occurrences that have been totally out of your control.
We at Excellent Cultures, want to do our part to help you discover what is really going on below the surface in your corporate culture and bring your team to EXCELLENCE. We want you to be able to be able to discover, assess and measure the SOCIAL CONTAGION impact on your team.
As our contribution to reactivating your team in this NEW REALITY we want to give you a Complimentary, Business Culture MRI Assessment for up to 10 of your leaders. No cost, no strings attached, just our gift to you as our way to help you build the “New Reality” that you most desire for your team during this challenging season.
IS WHAT YOU SEE REALLY WHAT YOU SEE?
Psychologists and brain scientists have proven that human perception is physically impaired by mental beliefs that are unknowingly inconsistent with the desired outcome of the individual, leader, or team. A Scotoma is a mental barrier or an impairment of the brain’s thinking processes. Due to the belief system of an individual or team, the brain actually blocks what is being perceived through the physical senses and allows them to see only what they want. This confirmation bias is extremely harmful to growth and change because it causes us to only see what we want to see, not what is really there or possible.
Everyone remembers a time when you were convinced that you had lost your keys, wallet or purse and no matter how hard you tried; you couldn’t seem to locate the missing item.
When you have a scotoma or confirmation bias, the harder you try the worse it gets. You placed yourself under tremendous stress looking for the missing item, only to have a friend or family member point it out easily and effortlessly. Once you found it, you couldn’t help but fixate on it while you were kicking yourself internally for acting so stupidly.
Psychologists identify one of the primary driving factors of human behavior as the desire to “maintain sanity” or “prove we’re not crazy for believing what we believe.” If you believe that the item was lost, your brain actually blocks the sensory input from your eyes, ears or other sensory preceptors to prove that “You’re right.”
Why is it that we can’t see the trees in our own forests? SCOTOMAS. Why does the child who believes he’s not good at math, have difficulty understanding his math teacher? SCOTOMAS. What causes Unintentional Cultures that erupt in our world to self-sabotage? SCOTOMAS. A further element of this phenomena of scotomas and the human brain working in overdrive to maintain sanity, trying to prove that they are not crazy for believing what they believe, can be understood by the functionality of the Reticular Activation System or RAS. If you read our last article you have a good understanding of the RAS. The RAS is a physical location in the brain that controls awareness (what we are allowed to receive or not receive through our senses).
The RAS monitors what is allowed into our memory system using Scotomas focused on two primary factors:
- Information perceived to have a high level of personal pay value or opportunity.
- Information perceived to be a threat to our safety, security or well-being.
For example: The mother with a sleeping child, blocks out the high decibel sounds of trains or planes and thunderstorms, but hears and immediately responds to the slightest whimper of the child all the way down the hall. Love for the child is has powerful subconscious value, so the sounds of the child get right through the RAS while much noisier planes, trains and thunderstorms are filtered out.
The exception would be when the thunderstorm presents a significant threat as in high storm or tornado prone areas. When fear or threat are dominant factors, the sound of the storm gets right through just like the baby’s cry. The mom can also hear the baby’s father quietly sneaking in at 3AM no matter how quiet he is. Yes, all forms of threats get right through while everything else is blocked out.
Another major component of the RAS function is perceived responsibility or accountability. While the mother wakes up when the child cries, the dad sleeps soundly because he knows she will wake up and take care of the child. If the mom is away visiting her sister, the dad wakes up because his subconscious knows that he is now responsible for the well-being of the child.
Jim Collins did a wonderful job of proving these points in his bestselling work “Good to Great.” Jim’s research has shown us that the hardest cultures to make into great cultures are the ones who believe that they are already good. Good guys lack the motivation, drive, energy and grit to become great guys because good is frankly too comfortable.
The collective RAS mechanisms in these good cultures block out opportunities for greatness. Greatness has little value when individuals or teams are comfortable with mediocrity. Unintentional Cultures can become mediocre cultures quickly. Believing they are in a good place, Unintentional Cultures fail to recognize that they are declining, until it is too late. We’ll learn more about how the RAS and scotomas function later.
RADICAL LIGHT SOURCES know how to manage their Reticular Activation Systems and do so strategically to lead their teams, their families and their communities in a direction that makes a meaningful positive difference for all involved.
The LoLo Principle
Being image oriented, we gravitate toward our focus whether positive or negative. Even more unique is the fact that we gravitate towards what we are told not to do or the things we don’t want. This happens when our minds focus on pictures or images derived from the words that we hear rather than the words themselves. If we paint a picture of “don’t do,” we begin to focus on what we want to avoid, rather than what we want to achieve. As a result, we naturally begin to go in the opposite direction of the path we truly desire.
Psychologists tell us that the human brain rarely recognizes negative suggestions, such as, “Don’t touch the stove.” Words trigger pictures in our minds. When you hear the phrase, “Don’t touch the stove”, what image does it create in your mind? Well, touching a stove. Amateur golfers think of the water that is in front of them and end up splashing multiple golf balls. Pros think of the beautiful green fairway beyond the water hazard and end up there.
Unintentional parents tell their children how messy their rooms are or what terrible students they are and then wonder why behaviors or grades do not improve. We are capable of intentionally pursuing our goals when we clearly define what we are seeking and create a vivid image of the desired result for our subconscious mind. Without clear definition and vivid imagery, the RAS moves toward whatever we perceive in our current environment.
This brain function is further recognized by what is known as the “Lock On-Lock Out” or “LoLo” principle. When we lock on to a belief or opinion such as “we have a good culture around here,” we automatically lock out any of the possibilities or strategies for having a better one.
The Titanic did not sink because of the iceberg. It sank because of The Culture or the dominant belief system of the captain and the crew. They had a culture of hubris. They believed that their vessel was so great that it was invincible. This belief system which they LOCKED ON TO, caused them to build a SCOTOMA to the iceberg and get too close, too late to change course. As a result, all those people lost their lives because of a SCOTOMA, THE CULTURE OF THE CAPTIAIN AND CREW, THEIR RAS AND THE LOLO PRINCIPLE. By “Locking On” the captain of the Titanic effectively “Locked Out” essential information.
Examples of The Lock-On/Lock-Out Principle:
Unintentional Tendency 1: A person or organization Locks-On to a way of behaving for too long and doesn’t make needed adjustments based on a status quo mindset.
Unintentional Tendency 2: A person or organization Locks-On to a way of behaving too quickly and makes an unwise decision based on a snap judgment mindset.
Intentional Tendency 3: A person or organization Locks-On to a new way of believing and then behaving at just the right time, seizing a competitive edge based on a first rate, excellent thinking mindset.
Unintentional Tendency 4: We Lock-On to the fact that our world is falling apart, the corona virus is killing everyone, and all social justice movements result in massive violence. This causes us to block out anything other than fear, our lives become massively stressed out and we are so afraid to leave our homes that we miss every opportunity to improve that comes our way.
Unintentional Tendency 5: We Lock-On to believing that one day things are going to return to normal just to ease our stress and anxiety. Then when things never return to normal because too much has already changed, we live in fear, stress, and anxiety the rest of our lives.
Intentional Tendency 6: We intentionally Lock-On to believing that because so much has already changed we will never return to NORMAL, that there is no such thing as a NEW NORMAL. As a result our RAS goes to work creating our own NEW REALITY in the midst of our current situation inventing and discovering new opportunities and strategies to maximize our success and effectiveness every day in every NEW REALITY that comes our way.
Too often we settle for good, rather than realizing we can go for what is great. Remember the story of the Fiddler on the Roof? Tevya made tradition his main focus, he sang about it, argued about it, and it blinded him. Later he learned that love is more important than tradition. He learned that family relationships carry a bond and he grew to realize he had to trust his first two daughters. He learned that tradition might be the way things were done, but tradition must be ignored at times for growth and change to occur and experience what is better. Tevya Locked On to tradition, while Locking Out true love.
Political party bias, racial or social class prejudice, hometown teams, corporate nepotism, my favorite pony at the track…you name it. All are examples of the LoLo principle and how it functions in our minds. The stronger the emotional attachment the more we lock on. The more we lock on, the more we lock out any and all information that disagrees with our opinions and then we call it “reality”.
If your read RADICAL LIGHT CAN BE YOUR NEW REALITY, you know that you can change the brain’s structure and functioning. You now understand Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson’s groundbreaking research on Tibetan Buddhist monks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His findings showed how years of meditative practice can dramatically increase neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to use new experiences or environments to create structural changes. For example, it can help reorganize itself by creating new neural connections based on what you intentionally choose to LOCK ON to. And, new neural connections produce new awareness, new creativity and new and improved results for you, your team and your family.
Since meditation is nothing other than prolonged repetition of the same thoughts or words that trigger thoughts, Davidson also proved that the physical structure of our brain actually changes based on these repetitive thoughts. He also proved that worrying is done in the same physical location of the brain as meditation.
Therefore, since worrying is nothing other than meditation on what we do not want to occur, just living in today’s world and accepting everything that is occurring and being said around us is changing our brains. It is not only changing our brains, it’s controlling what our RAS is allowed to see or not see. What opportunities we recognize or miss. What future REALITIES we intentionally create for ourselves, our teams and our families.
Whether we simply become victims of everything that’s changing around us, or we create our own opportunity seeking NEW REALITIES depends largely upon what we allow ourselves to accept, believe and meditate on. How we respond to everything we hear on the news, social media or from others affects us significantly. Even just listening affects us much more than we know. How much stress and anxiety we experience because of what we hear and experience depends on this as well.
Do we respond or react to what we hear? How much stress and anxiety are we creating for our families and our teams because of what we allow ourselves to hear, believe, repeat and communicate?
If you’ve attended one of our Achieving Excellent Culture Workshops you understand the power of RADICAL MEDITATION and how to utilize it to improve your own effectiveness as well as your corporate culture and your team’s and family’s effectiveness. You just need to spruce up your skills. Actually, we have had leaders who have attended as many as five times and gotten something new and better each time simply because the content and table discussions are continuously improving. For those of you who have not and want to participate or if you’re a grad who’s hungry for more RADICAL LIGHT, you and your team can participate on August 26-27 in Dallas or October 20-21 in Seattle.
TAKE ACTION AND BECOME A RADICAL LIGHT SOURCE
Corona virus or no corona virus, social unrest, or no social unrest, New Normal or NEW REALITY, if you keep thinking doing the same things that you’ve always done, NOTHING WILL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER! You will only be a victim of everything that’s occurring around you.
- Understand how SOCIAL CONTAGTION effects everything around you and enlighten your team, your family and your community.
- Carefully select what and who you allow yourself to listen to and agree with or believe.
- RADICALLY DISPUTE any words, opinions, posts, news broadcasts or even commercials that don’t move you in a direction that aligns with the values, beliefs and future that you intentionally choose for yourself, your team, your family and your community.
- Share this knowledge with everyone you care about.
- Read and study the rest of the articles in this LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS SERIES taking intentional action where appropriate.
- Attend the next Achieving Excellent Culture Workshop to get really good at this.
PASS IT ON
I am certainly no expert, just an intentional observer who cares about you, your business, your team, your family and most of all, your future. I might be wrong or even worse than that, “Controversial.”
Yet, there is one thing I know is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN: “IN TIMES LIKE THESE, YOU CAN EITHER STAND STILL AND CURSE THE DARKNESS OR YOU CAN LIGHT A CANDLE AND MOVE FORWARD.” Even better, “YOU CAN CREATE RADICAL LIGHT IN THIS NEW REALITY.” Imagine what a difference we can make if all of us intentionally light just one candle for someone else every single day!
STAY SAFE, BE WELL, DREAM BIG and PASS IT ON!