Power of the Mind

I heard a fascinating radio interview this morning with UK science writer Jo Marchant. She has just written a book on the remarkable healing that can happen because of what people believe in or think. Her book delves into the research that shows the mind can have enormous power over the progression and symptoms of disease.

This got me thinking about the powerful impact the mind also has in collaborative processes. Albert Einstein said it succinctly that “the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

We at Twyfords observe the impact that thinking has on the way people work together. We believe mindsets are so powerful that they massively influence the success of a collaborative process. We therefore focus a fair bit on examining mindsets with our clients. This involves a raft of activities from posing questions that may challenge people’s beliefs to facilitating periods of mindfulness.

The idea that our mind and body are interconnected is far from new, yet I think we can take some fresh lessons from research into the role the mind has with healing that will benefit our collaborative practice. Collaboration could be described as a healing process. Most if not all collaborative efforts come about as a response to a dilemma or problem that people want to cure or fix.

A couple of pertinent quotes from some of this research include that of Arthur Kleinman M.D who said:
“It’s important for the doctor to listen to the story of illness, to first solicit it, get it, hear it, permit it to be said and then to understand it, to appreciate it, to make sense of it.”

The lesson for me with this quote is the importance of really listening to the perspectives of all the voices connected to the dilemma. Take the time to get the voices, hear the voices, understand them and then co-define the common ground.

Then there is the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Phd. from the University of Massachussets who describes the role mindfulness can play:

“Mindfulness provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck and back in touch with our own wisdom and vitality. When we are on automatic pilot, trying to get someplace else all the time without being attentive to where we already are, we can leave a wake of disaster behind us…. Mindfulness – paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally – immediately restores us to our wholeness.”

The phrase unstuck resonates for me with recognition of the stuck place people can be in a complex situation. If mindfulness can provide a route out of that stuck place, then shouldn’t we take it?

In conclusion, collaborative processes can be fatiguing and frustrating and they can be exhilarating and rewarding. What I find so inspiring about working with collaborative processes is observing the magical power of not just one mind but many minds together.

So next time you are feeling weary with your collaboration efforts, remember you have the power – in your mind!

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