It was 8:30 am on a Wednesday and many of the first-year SHR MBAs entered the center just a little blurry-eyed. Having an early morning info session was uncommon and many of us had class later in the morning. We were unsure of the topic to be discussed but boy, were we in for a fascinating educational experience.
Our speaker that day was Dr. Niraj (Raj) Nijhawan who had some deep roots at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Dr. Raj spoke about his educational journey, specifically through Medical School, and how the challenges he faced there led him to evaluate his own struggles and what he could do to improve. This eventually led to him founding the Life Ecology Organization and doing in-depth research on training our brains to engage in a more positive and productive manner.
The session titled “Human 3.0: Change the Story, Change your Life” went over how to train our brains to respond, adapt, and thrive in a chaotic world. Dr. Raj discussed how there are 2 parts of the brain, the higher and lower parts, that humans can access. For most of human history, we had remained in the lower brain. This meant we lived in fear, anxiety, cravings, and stress. By staying and flowing in the lower brain, humans are less productive and innovative, less compassionate, more likely to be bored and fall into addiction, and less motivated. In recent human history, we were activating the higher brain, which meant we had more focus, drive, awareness, willingness to establish connections, and joyful experiences. Within our current era, the Age of Acceleration, humans are beginning to fall back into the lower brain and the lower brain behaviors.
As HR leaders of tomorrow, Dr. Raj encouraged us to investigate how to engage the higher brain and be conscious about our behaviors so as not to fall into the lower brain mentality. He believes we can assist the workforce to move out of this as well. He touched on ways to shut off the lower brain by having awareness and utilizing the O.U.C.H. (Offended, Uncertainty, Craving, Hungry) method to catch our behaviors. He also mentioned recognizing the keys to greatness which include time, feedback, tolerance, and rapid iteration or being agile. Even though we had to cut our learning session short due to class (boooooo), Dr. Raj made an incredible impact and showed us that by being aware of our behaviors, we have the capabilities to adjust and thrive in the higher brain to succeed and move towards our overall happiness.