Training Industry Magazine - January/February 2019 - 11

SCIENCE OF LEARNING
SRINI PILLAY, M.D.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND
THE DEVELOPMENT OF
FUTURE LEADERS

One
of
the
most
commonly
misunderstood ideas is "time." In
the brain, the past is stored in your
memory circuits now, and the future
(your hopes, dreams and aspirations) is
stored in "prediction" and "possibility"
circuits in the brain now. That is,
the past, present and future are
constantly interacting in the brain
now. This understanding is key to the
development of "future" leaders or "high
potentials," as they need to bring the
future into the here and now.
HOW DO YOU BRING THE FUTURE
INTO THE HERE AND NOW?
The key mechanism is imagination. It's
not about perceiving what you want, but
imagining what you want. It's not about
the probability of success. It's about the
possibility of success. For this reason,
succession planning is intimately related
to the science of imagination and the
science of possibility.
No skyscraper was built before it was
imagined or deemed possible. After this,
the architect draws up the plans, still
relying on imagination and possibility.
And the builder then builds the
skyscraper. Similarly, when organizations
prepare their new leaders, they must
engage in an analogous mindset.

It can also increase opioids, thereby
decreasing stress.

practicing a specific weakness will help
leaders' brains build confidence.

In order to enhance the possibility
thinking of future leaders across the
organization, the people in charge of
learning must first ensure that those
future leaders have the relevant mindset.
This means that learning must include
such subjects as managing burnout,
what to do when feeling lost, how not to
be stuck in habit, what to do if you are
depressed, and how to train attention
and imagination. Without these factors,
you cannot engage in possibility thinking.
I use a possibility index to measure and
address these factors.

THE SCIENCE OF BECOMING

THE FALLACY BEHIND GOALS

Old memories and self-limiting beliefs
need to be confronted. Even if you are in
finance, engineering, or programming,
these concrete functions require more
abstract development to truly lead at a
higher level.

When teaching future leaders how
to "train" imagination, training must
include a deep understanding of the
fallacy behind goals. A goal cannot exist
in the future if you are to reach it. For
example, any person who becomes an
Olympic champion starts to imagine,
believe in and train toward that goal
now.

"Leading" is not just a technical function.
It requires soft skills such as empathy,
curiosity, humor, and imagination.
All of these competencies must be
part of the learning agenda, too. And
don't forget that at the root of all of
these competencies is brain health.
Understanding how to manage your
energy is also key.

NO SKYSCRAPER WAS
BUILT BEFORE IT WAS
IMAGINED OR DEEMED
POSSIBLE.

Understanding the science behind
manifesting our greatest potential is key
to the development of future leaders.
Possibility thinking, the true nature
of goal achievement, imagination and
becoming are all often unconscious
competencies that must be taught if we
are to develop future leaders.

THE SCIENCE OF POSSIBILITY
When the brain translates imagination
into reality, it must first conceive of a
goal. It must be motivated to conceive
of that goal, and that motivation is
called "possibility thinking." When
you think that something is possible,
when you believe, this can increase
dopamine and a feeling of reward.

Another subtle distinction is the
difference between "desire" and
"becoming." Desiring to become a future
leader always separates you from that
goal. Becoming a future leader means
that you already are that leader and you
focus on removing what is in the way.

THE SCIENCE OF IMAGINATION
Athletes know all about the power of
imagination. They are living proof that
imagination can translate into action.
But imagination is not just some abstract
wishful thinking. There are two kinds of
imagination that improve confidence,
for example. "Coming from behind" and

Dr. Srini Pillay is the CEO of NeuroBusiness
Group. He is also assistant professor (part-time)
at Harvard Medical School and teaches in the
executive education programs at Harvard
Business School and Duke CE. Email Srini.

T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - THE ROLE OF L+D IN SUCCESSION PLANNING 20 19 I WWW. T RAININGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - January/February 2019

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190708
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112_se
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20161112
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016spring
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015outsourcing
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015fall
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015leadership
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