Navigating Our Neurological Levels – Ep.27

Authentic Commitment – Ep.26
April 30, 2021
Undoing Systemic Ignorance – Ep.28
May 25, 2021

 On this week’s episode, Melyssa shares the practice of navigating our neurological levels in order to broaden our perspective of racial and cultural identification.

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to the Jali podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion and equity. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.

Hello everyone. This week I thought I would do something a little different. I’ve been spending lots of time digging into different books, taking courses, just really diving into different perspectives on diversity, equity and inclusion. DEI starts with yourself and we cannot put our head in the sand when it comes to this type of work. We have to take a look at our mindset. I know it’s a word that’s getting lots of attention these days, but if you are a CEO of a company or you sit in senior leadership, I want you to consider a brief note on neurological levels. When you’re thinking about neurolinguistic programming, there is a chart that I keep posted up in my office about neurological levels.

I’m not an expert in this area to say the least, but based on my understanding, I thought this was an interesting area to focus on this week, so stay with me for a bit and you’ll see kind of where I’m going with this. Consider this graphic, think of it as a pyramid, and I’m going to go up the pyramid with different levels of change. When we think about the mindset, the lowest and easiest level of change we can make is to our environment. You remember you walked into that meeting and you didn’t feel good energy so you left. Removing yourself from that environment can cause your mindset to change because you have changed your environment. I think a lot of people have started figuring this out during COVID, right? You’re stuck in one place in the house for a long time, so now you’ve decided maybe to work out of a different house or location. That would be the first level, environment. That’s at the base of the pyramid.

Next is a change in our behavior. You can create more significant change in your life, no matter what environment you’re in. It’s that definition of crazy. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. If you change what you’re doing, your behavior, you will get different results. If we change our behavior, it can actually affect our environment. Behavior is the next level. The third level is skills and capabilities, skills and abilities, or capabilities. What skills do you have? What do you know how to do? Can I learn something new? Changing behavior may not be possible if you don’t possess the capability to do it. Just think about that. Changing behavior may not be possible if you don’t possess the capability to do it, so we need people in organizations to create skills, abilities, and capabilities around themselves and their mindset so they can change their behavior and ideally, of course, again, change the environment.

The fourth level, beliefs and values. What are your beliefs about yourself? What do you value? When we change our beliefs and values, it can affect our skills and abilities. The last level at the top is identity. This is why diversity, equity and inclusion work is so challenging. You also have family systems, identity, and spirituality that could be above that. I’m really saying all this just to show that when you’re talking about someone’s identity how deep it really resides within their mindset. When we talk about race and identity, it’s very complex. If you’re a person who looks around and sees only people that look like you in your circle, think about changing your environment first. Perhaps go to a place that has more diversity and see what it feels like. It may even be uncomfortable at first.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes there are people that think that if they change the environment it will change people’s behaviors or their capabilities, skills, and abilities, or their beliefs and values, and neurologically, that’s not how change occurs. Until people start understanding that identity is personal and complex, how I choose to identify is not based on what you think I should identify as. There are so many identities that I may have, and I’m not just one item on that list. When I talk about being racially and culturally sensitive, I’m sure there are many people out there who have experienced racism. What are those skills and abilities when we talk about racial and cultural sensitivity? We want you to be aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them judgment or a value, whether it be positive, negative, better, worse, right or wrong.

Be aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist and have an effect on values, learning and behavior. This means you also have to have a set of skills that will allow for you to understand and learn about people whose cultural background is not the same as your own. My experience is different than someone else’s experience. As a final takeaway, authentic curiosity, listening, empathy, communication. As a CEO of an organization, which level do you think you’re working on? If you’re a senior leader, is your organization focusing on the environment, behaviors, skills, and capabilities, all of the above? Are there opportunities that you in your role can create that help change beliefs and values? Choose diversity. Create inclusion. Let’s go.

Thanks for joining me on the Jali podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.