Crack The Behavior Code


One Powerful Tool to Create the Reality You Desire

Season 1, Ep. 7

As a leader, in what area of your life do you need to shift from being disempowered to being empowered?

We form our own reality based on visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues. These cues recall our beliefs about the world and ourselves (our identity), which results in either feeling good or feeling bad. If you’re on a sales team that feels bad, chances are you won’t be achieving your quota because your energy will be low as well as your motivation and creativity. Is there anything you can do right now to feel better and be more productive?

Stuff happens, and sometimes we need to do a quick “pattern-interrupt” to pause our default and choose a better-feeling alternative. Remember, it is not what happens that matters but rather, what it means that matters. Change the meaning, change the feeling. We need to make more helpful meaning. 

Reframing is a terrific tool for making new meaning quickly and easily, as well as for editing your belief system in the process.

By formal definition, reframing is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts, and emotions to find more useful alternatives. It is a practical and valuable tool to shift perception, including your perception of yourself or others’ perceptions of themselves.

Think of reframing as putting on a different pair of glasses. What would you see if you put on a pair of sunglasses with a heavy tint when you were in a dark room? You would see shadows and dark forms you couldn’t identify. What would happen when you took off those glasses? You may see the most beautiful room in the world. When you switch your glasses, what you see changes.

Reframing, mentally and linguistically, does the same thing. It changes the story you tell yourself about what happens.

Harvard researchers proved a while back that the stories we tell ourselves shape our world. The good news is that we can also create new stories about the decisions we’ve made about ourselves, our abilities, and the world. We have the power to change our experience. Here are two examples.

In Business

Initial story: It’s really hard getting a job fresh out of college these days. The market is crowded, and overqualified people are competing for every single job. No wonder I’m unemployed and it’s tough.

Reframe: It’s awesome that there are a lot of people job hunting right now because it gives a person the opportunity to really bring his or her “A Game” to stand out. I’m sending my résumé in creative ways to get an interview, I’m doing more research than I ever have done before to prepare for interviews, and then I’m following up after the interviews using different methods. I am learning a ton!

See how the meaning shifts from defeat and deciding that job hunting will be hard (which means it will be because the universe is an exquisite mirror) to a sense of power, can-do, creativity, and agility?

In Personal Life

Initial story: I was a girl in a household of boys. My brothers and parents wanted another boy, so I was perpetually left out and labeled as a disappointment. I’ve never been good enough.

Reframe: I grew up in the perfect family to learn to see and honor my unique value. I was given great opportunities to be independent and forge my path in life. I also learned to be self-reliant, which has made me strong and fearless.

See how the meaning she is making shifts from disempowering to empowering?

Resources Mentioned:

You’re busy growing. Let’s have a strategy session when it makes sense, which means you are…

· Committed to getting better results and finding out how awesome your performance can truly be

· Ready to make this a priority and get started in the next few months

· Allocating budget to improving the leadership, culture and results of you and your company

· Able to make the decision to move forward (or can convince the person who can)

Ready? Great! Please fill out the form here. If not, check out our resources and subscribe to receive news and more tools as they become available, and we’ll work together when the time is right.

More Episodes


Don't Make Your Brain Dumb

Season 4, Ep. 6
What makes a person successful?Having a growth mindset? Being a visionary? Being born into the ‘right’ family?These may help, but a healthy brain is foundational. Without it, success is going to be far harder to come by. So what is a healthy brain, a successful brain? It’s one that has high blood flow and high activity.TheAmen Clinicsperform brain imaging calledsingle-photon emission computed tomography(SPECT), which assesses at blood flow and activity patterns in the brain. Since 1991, they have performed over 135,000 brain SPECT scans on patients from 120 countries. The data from SPECT teaches us the four crucial aspects of a person’s brain-based success.Daniel AmenHere are the 4 crucial aspects of ensuring your brain stays strong and doesn’t ‘dumb down’:1) Protect your prefrontal cortex (PFC).You’ve heard me talk about this key region of the brain before. It’s behind your forehead and it governs the development of your personality as well as complex behaviors. In humans, it accounts for 30% of the brain’s volume. That’s a lot. Cats weigh in at 3%, dogs at 7%, chimpanzees at 11% of their brain’s volume. The PFC is involved with executive functions, such as strategy, visioning the future, planning, focus, judgment, impulse control, and empathy. It’s your internal CEO. Low PFC activity = bad decision making. That’s why protecting it is crucial. In astudy,Amen published they found that 91% of traumatic brain injuries involve the PFC.Preventing brain injuries is easy (phew!):Wear a helmet when doing any type of sport where a head injury could occur. Avoid tackle football, hitting soccer balls with your head, any sports that often result in your head being hit.Sleep 7+ hours a night. You’ll see in one of myblogsthat less than that decreases PFC function, which compromises a host of executive function behaviors from decision making even to thinking clearly.Reduce alcohol and marijuana use as they too decrease PFC function.Daniel Amen2) Protect your brain’s pleasure centers.The nucleus accumbens (NA), in both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, are involved in pleasure andmotivation. You’ll remember blogs I’ve written about theneurotransmitter dopamine. Well the NA is lit up by the dopamine your brain releases from sex, chocolate, video games, cocaine, stimulants like coffee, high fat and high sugar foods, and fame. Most of us are familiar with the connection between dopamine and addiction, which we’ve been seeing with excessive video gaming for many years now. Not to bum your high, but intense pleasure actually results in substantial drops in your levels of dopamine. When repeated over time (like with heroin addiction, for instance) the NA becomes less responsive, which leads to needing more of these behaviors. That’s how addiction happens, be it to chocolate or methamphetamines.Protect your pleasure centers by:Reduce or limit thrill-seeking activities like racing, excessive video games, pornography, scary movies, drugs that could wear your NA out.Increase the behaviors that protect your brain, such as exercise (ideally outdoors),meditation, listening to music you find pleasing, enjoying the company of friends, hobbies, doing things you are passionate about. All these and more help activate— and not overload—your pleasure centers in healthy ways.3) You can make your brain better.Amen Clinics is well-known for running the first and largest brain imaging and rehabilitationstudyon active and retired NFL players. Needless to say, they witnessed high levels of brain damage to players, many of which had been hit in the head thousands of times. They were thrilled—and surprised—to see that 80% of the players showed improvement in as little as two months on theirMemory Rescueprogram. Since most of us have (thankfully) not been repeatedly hit in the head, there is hope for all of us to have better brains—and better lives.The Net-NetProtect your prefrontal cortex by protecting your skull, getting 7+ hours of sleep each night, reducing alcohol and marijuana useProtect your nucleus accumbens—your pleasure centers—by dialing down addictions (we all have them—even to coffee or chocolate) and over-stimulating forms of entertainment (watch excessive video gaming)You can indeed make your brain better by getting help if you need it. Amen has helped pro football playersHow does a person become successful? That’s a long answer. For starters, you can stack the deck in your favor by having a healthy brain!

The Future of Work

Season 4, Ep. 5
I won’t start by saying 2020 was a rough year. We know that already.We know that 2020 brought many businesses to their knees, requiring profound pivots, workforce and workplace changes, policy changes, and how it significantly altered how humans work.As an executive coach for mid-sized to large organizations, I was in the thick of these changes every day (and still am). It wasn’t uncommon to receive texts after hours and on weekends as my clients scrambled to find their footing in a brave, new, uncertain and constantly changing world.Based on my work with over a dozen diverse organizations over the past year, below you’ll find my predictions for what I believe The Future Of Work will look like.#1 The Human Experience (HX) Will Replace The Employee Experience (EX)Net-Net: Seeing employees as humans and helping them grow in all areas of their livesFocus on: Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial healthInfographic:Learning together and how it benefits our brainsIt’s ok to be human at work now. We’ve seen the inside of one another’s homes, heard our colleagues’ children crying, dogs barking, and more. Thank goodness. Now we can connect to one another without the veneer of stilted professionalism.Employee Experience(EX) was a 2-dimensional way of looking at humans. Now we care about the entire Human Experience (HX) and support our people to have more fulfilling lives, which of course helps them bring a more productive version of themselves to their work. Thanks toGartner’s 2020 Reimagine HR Employee Survey,employers that support their peoples’ lives overall enjoy a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health, plus a 17% increase in the number of employees reporting better physical health. Additionally, employers benefit from a 21% increase in the number of high performers (compared to firms that don’t provide the same degree of support to their employees).#2 Personal And Corporate Value Alignment Will Support More Purpose-Driven WorkNet-Net: Truly living corporate values, not just hanging them on the wallFocus on: Being authentic, walking your walk, talking your talkInfographic:Employee engagement has a recipe… follow it!We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We all want to know we’re making a difference. We all want to work with (note I don’t say “for”) organizations whose values align with our own. According to some 2020Gartner research, 74% of employees expect their organization to become moreactively involvedin current cultural debates of the day.How did you feel about some of the more public displays of CEO support of their values, such as certain social media companies unplugging accounts of hate groups and other malevolent social forces?The more a CEO models the organization’svalues, invests in addressing challenging or even uncomfortable social issues, the more engaged their employees are.The same Gartner surveyfound a leap in employee engagement—from 40% to 60%— when their organization acted on today’s key social issues. Wow. If you need some help setting/refreshing your values,here’s a kitto help you.#3 Hybrid Work Will Be The Norm—So Build A Virtual CultureNet-Net: Release control over the work environmentFocus on: Where your people feel most productive and connected to their team/the organization overallInfographic:You need a GAME Plan to make this workHybrid workforces are already becoming common, with employees working in their home, a quiet coffee shop, or the office (or some variation). What I’m curious about is the varying interest in a hybrid that I’m seeing across my clients. Some employees are itching to get back to the physical office as much/as soon as possible. Others are ok coming in 1-3x per week, based on what’s needed. What do your employees want? Find out. Regardless, you’re going to need to have a GAME (Growth, Appreciation, Measurement, Engagement) plan to keep everyone “together” as a tribe. See the infographic above.A recent Gartner surveyfound that 64% of managers believe that employees working in the office arehigher performersthan remote workers. And they said they’d be more likely to give in-office workers a higher raise than remote workers. This isn’t the experience of my clients, though, who have found that remote workers are often higher performers. Gartner’sdatashowed the same: for full-time workers from both 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2020 (during the pandemic) remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than those who work from the office.And be aware of gender disparity here too: many of my clients are finding that men are more interested in returning to the office versus women. If some managers believe the in-office employees are more productive, this could affect salary increases and promotions, which again could reinforce salary disparity between genders. No Bueno.#4 Employee Monitoring Will Be Replaced By Performance Monitoring—And TrustNet-Net: If you don’t trust them, why do you employ them?Focus on: Monitor performance and results, not hours clockedInfographic:Motivation can be crushed by leadership—make sure you don’t mess this up!Did you know that as a result of the pandemic, more than 1 in 4 companies installed technology to passively track and monitor their employees? Wow. Imagine the privacy issues that come from this, as well as the trust issues. Now imagine if this happened to you—would you feel like your employer was looking over your shoulder all day? Spying on you? It’s a sticky topic, and according toGartner's research, less than 50% of employees trust their organization with their data. This is not surprising, since 44% didn’t receive any information regarding the data collected about them and how it would be used. Whoa. A little respect, please.Expect to see a bevy of state and local regulations this year that will establish limits on what employers can track about their employees. If you choose to monitor your employees digitally, be sure to over-communicate and be super transparent about the details. Regardless, you’ll get the best results (and highest morale) by simply establishing clear KPIs, success metrics, goals, OKRs, whatever you prefer to call them, andmonitor individual performanceinstead.#5 Flexible Working Hours Will Become The NormNet-Net: Ensure overlap that’s essential, let go of control for the restFocus on: Letting people bring their best self, according totheirwork rhythmInfographic:the Feedback Framewill help you give effective feedbackAre you a morning person? Or an evening person? What would it be like to work at your peak time each day? How much more productive and fulfilled could you be?My clients are becoming increasingly flexible re: when to let their employees work. Some are requiring availability (not continuous though) between 9-5 pm, meaning the employee can take gap time during this range as long as they check email at regular intervals and attend key meetings. Others are setting up split shifts (a mom for instance could work from 7-8 am, then once the kids are set, from 10 am-2 pm, and again a check-in on email/etc from 7-8 pm). Get creative with exploring what your people need and what serves the business. This will require us to become better atgiving feedback and often doing it digitally. See the infographic above.Gartner’s2020 Reimagine HR Employee Surveyrevealed that organizations offering employees flexibility over when, where, and how much they work saw 55% of their workforce as high performers. Yet at an organization with a standard 40-hour workweek, only 36% of employees were considered high performers. Again, it’s time to measure results, as I mentioned in #4 above, versus time clocked.#6 Freelance, Temporary Help Will Be Welcomed To Optimize Resource AllocationNet-Net: Stay lean and get extra help as neededFocus on: You’ll need better communication and more Standard Operating Procedures to ensure quality and consistency with temp helpInfographic:Be sure to includeyour temp help in your tribeWe all need more diverse capabilities and skills from our teams than ever before. And Gartner’sanalysisshows that organizations are now listing about 33% more skills on job ads in 2020 than they did in 2017. Why? Because the world is moving faster, technology is moving faster, we have more diversity in the work we do, so we all have to level up to meet ever-changing needs.Many of my clients are looking for temp help, using UpWork, Fiverr, and other sites to get the specific (often narrow) help them need at the moment. We’ll need greatcommunicationto make this work, to help onboard everyone faster, and ensure consistent quality work.#7 Neurodiversity And Mental Health Support Will Be Destigmatized.Net-Net: We all have our struggles, so let’s support instead of judgeKey Focus: Create a Neurodiversity [link to neurodiversity blog] policy (if you don’t have one yet) and internal support groupsInfographic:Stress, change, isolationare devastating to us all… learn what these do to the brain so you can sidestep this riskI was very happy to learn that even before the pandemic,Gartner's researchshowed that 45% of well-being budget increases were being allocated to mental and emotional well-being programs.And now in the midst of the pandemic (and let’s be realistic—for the ongoing future) we’ve seen mental and emotional well-being brought to the forefront for all organizations.Per Gartner, by late March 2020, 68% of organizations had introduced at least one new wellness benefit to help their employees navigate the pandemic. And in 2021, we’ll see organizations join my clients in widely offering “mental health days”,support groups, compassion around ADHD, OCD, Bipolar, GAD employees. Just like some of us have a bad back and can’t sit long in a given position, these mental and emotional challenges will be viewed the same way—with acceptance and non-judgment.We’ve still got a way to go to whatever the new normal is going to be. With the above tools you’ll be better positioned to capitalize on it, and with a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.

Three Fast, Easy, Neuroscience-Based Ways to Get Unstuck

Season 4, Ep. 4
As an executive coach, I invest a great deal of time in helping people get unstuck. And I repeatedly see 3 key areas where they are ensnared. We all want to be happy, to get along, to have great lives. The tricky part is we don’t live in a vacuum, so for better or worse,we must interact with others. This can be the best part of life, as well as the most challenging.Here are my top 3 neuroscience-based strategies to help youget unstuck fast:1. Catch Trouble Before You’re EntangledYou’re bopping along, having a great day, then you get blindsided by someone’s unpleasant behavior. Why? It’s their thing—not yours. Why take on their negativity, get fearful/avoid conflict/get angry/judgmental?It’s all about energy.Emotions have energy, and you have a choice as to whether you absorb that energy or not.Here’s how we absorb it and let it burn our high:Fear: you fear the person or fear they have power over you, your finances, your future, your happiness, or so on. You get the idea.Judgment: you judge the person or situationAttachment: you think something needs to be a certain way or must occur on a certain timeline, and you’re attached to getting what you want.All 3 reactions cause you to become emotionally entangled, and then you’re in trouble.Let’s be conscious of this as leaders, as solving problems is often a part of our job. The next time a buzz kill comes your way—stop, pause, and notice your response. Are you reacting with fear? Judging the person? Feeling attached to a certain outcome/how things should be? Stop. Feel it.Then choose differently. Choose to let them have their experience, but do not make it yours!2. Realize Your Ego-Mind Wants To Make You UnhappyHave you ever noticed that your mind is always talking? Blah blah blah – all the time. We know from both Wayne Dyer’s research and the NSA that a human has about 60,000 thought per day. 90% of them are repetitive. Whoa. That’s nuts!What would happen if you didn’t think so much? Have you ever had the experience of stopping the relentless dialog in your mind? Try it.Focus on your breath: inhale for a count of 7 through your nose, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 7 through your mouth. Do this at least 7 times in a row and you’ll start to get still. The mind needs a project. It’s ok to give it the task of counting to get still as you do a parasympathetic nervous system reset.Next, when you return to thinking, step back and witness what your mind says. Does it complain? Pout? Rage? Thoughts generate energy.You can always stop, or at least slow, down your thoughts. Be careful what energy you fill your life with.Mike Dooley of Tut says “A young soul learns to take responsibility for their actions, a mature soul learns to take responsibility for their thoughts, and a wise soul learns to take responsibility for their happiness.”Why not be a wise soul?3. Consciously Develop Your Emotional IntelligenceTo be aconscious leader, we eventually will embrace neuroscience-based strategies for emotional intelligence. Let’s talk about the two elements of doing so. There is personal competence, which is our self-awareness and ability to regulate our emotions, and social competence, which is our awareness of the emotional experience of others and our ability to navigate the emotions of others.How aware are you of your emotions? Do you know how you’re feeling at any given time? Our feelings are how we navigate our experiences. Grab ouremotion wheelto check in on yourself.Next, are you able to witness your emotions and not get swept up in them? This is where mindfulness and meditation really help. As we learn to slow our thoughts down, we gain the ability to be less wrapped up in our own emotional dramas.As we deepen our awareness of ourselves, we can then have more compassion for the emotional experiences of others, which enables us tonavigate conflict more easily, give others a break when they’re stuck, and help them get unstuck. We start to notice that we don’t take another person’s emotional outburst personally. We can witness it without being wrapped up in it.Net-NetHumans take on the emotions of others when they fear, judge or get attached to what the person is to them, or what that person represents. It’s essential to use neuroscience-based strategies to manage the relentless chatter of our ego mind in order tohave both inner peace and behavioral choice