Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hope: Taking the Blinders Off

Hope and fear are both necessary in modern life, but they operate very, very differently. Fear is associated with signals from one of the oldest parts of our brains, the amygdala. When we experience threat, the amygdala initiates a process that helps generate the physical resources we need to kick ass or make tracks. We have few other options when we are fearful; we behave as if we have blinders on.

No creativity comes out of fear; we just don't see options when we are fearful. When fear does its job, we escape that which makes us fearful. This fear response is exhausting and it comes with a host of negative emotional and physical consequences.

Hope is wired in the youngest part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex. When we attach ourselves to the future through a goal that matters to us, our new brain tells us to reach out, find more resources, get some support. Hope effectively takes the blinders off and helps us see chance and opportunity.

Innovation comes out of hope; we create something out of nothing then tweak, tweak, tweak until it works just right. Hope works because it broadens our thinking and because it fuels persistence. Big thinking without sticktoitiveness is not hoping, it is wishing.

Now, take the blinders off. Use your new brain.


  1. Shane,
    As I read these words I began to see myself and understand the inexplicable feeling of hope and optimism that I have had in my job search. With every rejection I seem to find strength. Could this be because I have released the fear of the unkown?
    Thanks for this revelation.

  2. Great explanation of broaden-and-build theory in easy-to-understand lingo. Love it and can't wait for the next installment!

  3. Yes, I second what Christy said. It is a great explanation of broaden and build theory and I am curious, Shane, of how you see the development of a safe classroom environment through positive interventions( or maybe we should call them preventions) in order to increase the expression of creativity in kids. As a teacher, I try my best to model making mistakes as a positive learning experience, as well as use humor and fun routines to help kids keep stress to a minimum. I believe that even young kids can "broaden and build" when fear is kept to a minimum.

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  5. The hope of one can create a buzz for many. A hopeful, safe environment created by a teacher fosters that creativity we need in our kiddos. Hope + Humor, what a combo in the classroom...