This is a guest post from Tim Drake, Author, You Can Be as Young as You Think, and follows on from the post that I wrote recently (From innovation to marketing to culture, is your approach young brain or old brain?) after seeing Tim speak at TEDxBrighton 2012.
Here’s Tim’s post. Enjoy!
Peter Drucker wisely said:
“People are like electricity. They work better when switched on.”
True, but the point is that if an organisation wants to turn its workers on, it is a lot more effective if it is switching on searchlights, rather than 40 watt bulbs.
Young Brains are searchlights. Old Brains are 40 watt bulbs. The difference is in the mindset. Young Brains are open to change, open to people, fun-loving, creative, positive, future focused, and above all they are high energy, and get things done. Old Brains, on the other hand, are defensive, grumpy, anxious, afraid of change, risk averse, and low energy.
The thing is, like tends to attract like. Old Brains tend to migrate towards organisations that they perceive to be Old Brained, because they feel instinctively they will be at home there. Young Brains, on the other hand, won’t go near Old Brained organisations. They look for places to work, and to contribute, that reflect their optimistic and dynamic view of the world. Places like Innocent Drinks, Google, or Virgin.
Young brained organisations have a sense of humour – which implies a sense of balance, an understanding of how the world really works – and are looking to release the energies of their staff, rather than control them. They are licenced to be human beings – responsible, but still human. Which makes customer service a whole lot more genuine, and thus a whole lot more effective.
The question arises: is Brain Age a fixed state? The answer has to be no. Although the evidence (see You Can Be as Young as You Think) suggests people’s attitudes on dimensions such as sociability, openness to change, desire to have fun, be creative etc tend to decline as early as the late teens or early twenties, it also shows 25- 35% of the population retaining the enthusiasm and excitement of young people throughout their lives. Benjamin Franklin, a classic Young Brain, invented the bifocal lens at the age of 78. Warren Buffet retains his sense of humour and insight into business well past conventional retirement age.
It is entropy that undoes us. The tendency to decline into increasing grumpiness and unsociability is a natural one, but it needs to be fought, and reversed. The Six Wisdoms of today’s youth is a fruitful starting point. Copying the beneficial attitudes of the young people of today (while eschewing the negative ones) can turn things around. For example, Generation Y tend to be more open to people, because they tend to be diversity blind. They see the person, not whether they are gay or straight, white or black, old or young. They collaborate well to solve tricky problems, while Old Brains think collaboration is a form of cheating. They are highly adaptive and navigate technology instinctively.
And once the 40 watt bulb Old Brain starts to shine more brightly, enthusiasm returns. Anxiousness dissolves. Energy levels rise. And all corners of the organisation are filled with a far brighter light.
Thanks to Pierina Diez for the image.