By Dr Jane Kise and Ann C Holm
While no amphibians were harmed in writing this article … have you heard about putting frogs into kettles? If the water is boiling hot, they’ll try to jump right out. But if it’s warm, they’ll swim around happily and not notice if you gradually turn up the heat until it’s too late to exit and the chef can proceed with cuisses de grenouille.
It’s a great analogy for what happened to us with advances in communication technology. Not all that long ago, sending a message took time. You had to sit down with pen and paper, or ink up the ditto machine. Then, before anyone really considered the consequences, we could send messages around the globe in milliseconds—and we send far more messages with the expectation of rapid response. These new communication “rules” evolved organically—and they aren’t working very well.
Our corporate and executive coaching clients are constantly complaining that they are too busy to think. Not just email but many other technological “new normals” were adopted with a frog-in-the-kettle effect, such as
- Virtual meetings. The hope of decreasing travel time evaporated as people were simply expected to attend more meetings.
- Virtual calendars. Now you can be over-scheduled by multiple people
- Virtual libraries. Ever find yourself sucked into a whirlpool of links while researching on the internet?
Technology has changed, but the human brain hasn’t. We’re being asked to multi-task, to do more with less, and to work smarter when, in fact, these new norms work against our needs and desire to be energized, effective, efficient and engaged.
You’ve heard this before—we’re human beings, not human doings. We have real limits. One of the biggest limits is the amount of brain energy we have. While you may know that the brain, by weight, uses the most energy of any part of the human body, it is less known that we have just one “bucket” of energy for willpower. We access that single source to concentrate on projects, regulate emotions, resist eating too much pizza, gear up for a workout, or maintain focus while in conversation, to name just a few ways. Empty that bucket and you simply don’t have energy for other needs.
The result of empty buckets—what we call bandwidth? Road rage. Obesity. More sick days. A disengaged workforce. Decreased emotional intelligence. Poor decisions. Bandwidth is, to summarize, crucial.
You’ll have a chance to take our Brain Energy and Bandwidth Survey before the April Conference. Ann and I developed it to create a game-changing moment for a corporate client that didn’t realize that their “Do more with less” approach to shrinking resources had fostered company-wide burnout.
The survey asks questions to help individuals understand how well they’re fueling their brains, focusing their attention, and filtering information (the three Fs) so they can stay energized, effective, efficient and engaged (the four Es)
At the Conference, we’ll share our research results (hint: it isn’t as simple as Judging types benefit from scheduling and Perceiving types multitask … ). But here are a few fun facts to whet your appetite:
- The first version was a 15-question quiz given at a plenary session for leadership development candidates and their sponsors. People scored as low as 10 out of 60 points—and immediately asked for coaching!
- The second version asked questions about engagement and self-efficacy so that we could look at outcomes if companies changed policies or individuals worked on new habits.
- Dr. Greg Huszczo, a fabulous INTP colleague who said, “You have data? Can I play with your data?” ran statistical validity and significance analyses for us, and we created the third and final version.
- With grounding in Greg’s analysis, we can tell companies, “These scores indicate that employee bandwidth is suffering because of company policies more than because of their individual choices. Would you like to look at what policies may be decreasing energy, efficiency, effectiveness, and engagement?” That gets their attention.
- There are Type differences in how well people fuel, filter and focus. There are gender differences. There are generational differences.
Ann and I hope to see you in Milton Keynes. You’ll experience some of the exercises we’ve been using to help people recognize and change harmful habits, and hopefully identify a few ways you can increase your own bandwidth.
About the Authors
Dr Jane Kise, a past president of Association for Psychological Type International, is a consultant and author of over 20 books. She works with schools to integrate type concepts into professional development, leadership and instruction; as an executive coach, focused on leadership development; and as an organisational consultant with expertise in team building and conflict resolution. Her latest book, published in 2013, is Unleashing the Positive Power of Differences: Polarity Thinking for Our Schools (Corwin/Sage Publications). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann C Holm is a Professional Certified Coach specializing in executive, career and personal development. She is an MBTI® Master Practitioner and is known for her extensive experience of the MBTI® Step III. She also has 25 years of experience in applied brain science, using her hands on experiences to help her coaching clients understand how to stay focused, be engaged and energized, given the demands of the 21st Century workplace.
JANE KISE (INFJ) AND ANN HOLM (ENFP), Keynote speakers at the 2018 BAPT conference.