Tag Archives: amygdala

Better Eating = Better Brain = Better Management Ability

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Eating differently made me a better interviewer and manager. Actually, before getting into that, let me rewind a little bit.

Growth and development is a major focus in my development as a manager. My focus isn’t just on getting that illustrious promotion that many dream of – but growing in my current role and my overall effectiveness as an employee of a company I love. A few months ago I hit a roadblock.

Mock interviews are a regular part of development for me as a manager. I’m not the most amazing interviewer ever but I’m also far from bad. I’d completed a few mocks with success (while also receiving constructive input on goals to work on) but one day I ran up against a new challenge – I mentally froze.

The interviewer I was working with brought a different style to the table and I felt my brain lock. I stumbled, I bumbled, and I was overall bad. That is absolutely not good enough for what I expect of myself. From that, I set out to improve through practice, practice, and practice. I came to the table again a couple months later and had a similar response my from my brain – the flight response was in overdrive. I continued to practice and saw some improvement but I needed something more.

My psychology background came in handy here. I looked at my brain and figured out that my amygdala was hijacking my interviews for one reason or another with the fight/flight instinct and a massive influx of cortisol (distress hormone). The exact reason for this still is unknown but it was clear I needed to fix it. Some supplements like Gingko Biloba, DHEA, and GABA seemed to help a little but there was still room for improvement. Enter the cyclic ketosis diet (ckd).

Huh?

The human brain typically runs on glucose (sugar). If a person limits eating carbs (below 25-50g per day), the body switches its primary fuel source from carbohydrates/glycogen to ketones, which the liver produces. Here’s the cool thing: Ketones deliver quite a bit more energy to the brain than more typical glucose. In other words, the brain has more fuel to run better and more effectively – and to keep the amygdala in check.

Within a couple weeks of switching over to this diet, life felt easier. It was hard to stress me out. My stuttering and mental freezes pretty much went away. I felt much more in control of my attitude, speech patterns, emotions, and overall ability to lead others at work and to speak to my efficacy. My ability to interview increased dramatically.

Give this diet a shot. Or at least consider the biological/neurological health of your brain. I know brain health probably is something far from what you might read in “Business for Dummies” but if you think about it, the health of your brain is paramount to fulfilling potential. It’s probably not for everybody but the effect ckd has had on my cognition so far has been nothing short of awesome. Oh – and there’s evidence that it may also lessen the threat of cancer, epilepsy, and other diseases.

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AmygdaLAAAAAAAAAAA! (in an opera voice)

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Srinivasa Pillay wrote  a book relating brain science to the business world. It’s on my long list of books to read… but here’s a cool exerpt from an interivew he did with Business Insider:

“One of the reasons that business strategies are not executed effectively is that they are presented in a way that makes people anxious. This anxiety reduces productivity, undermining the strategy. An organizational psychologist might identify that productivity is affected by the level of your anxiety, but a brain scientist could say, “When you become anxious it activates the fear center in your brain, which can then disrupt the thinking part of the brain, to which it is connected.”

“Moreover, brain science tells us that even when fear is completely outside of conscious awareness, the fear center of the brain still activates. If you’re unable to focus on a project, you may not be feeling anxiety consciously, but anxiety that is active in your brain may be lessening your productivity.”

Agree? Disagree?

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