The Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

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The Chilean mine rescue last week underscored talent, teamwork, and takeaway lessons of hope to fuel brainpowered innovation. Chile’s unprecedented operation illustrated five brainpowered tools that build and sustain hope to the finish line in impossible situations!

1. Question, what if … and hope will convert brainpower into winning answers.  The opposite is also true. For example, the first 17 days, with hope dimmed for their rescue, the miners squabbled, and spoke of deep despair.

The Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

When rescuers tossed optimism into the mix, people sought life-changing solutions.  They found motivation  to help one another.

Have you noticed how hope communicated in any tough situation, enables innovators  to risk vulnerability? When they fully expect results,  people pull together for courageous conclusions.  In contrast,  organizations that cling to bureaucracy, or perpetuate broken  routines – simply serve and sustain broken systems. It doesn’t have to be that way.

What if you created one solution to a recession problem, that would add hope to lead us all through tough times? Hope involves others and takes tone skills.

2). Target good tone skills, and trust begins to flavor exchanges like spices add zip to a fine banquet. You’ll also build goodwill with those who disagree, rather than rally people around one perspective only. The opposite is also true. Tone skills fuel intelligent input from opposing views, in ways that drive finer initiatives forward.

Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

When mine experts facilitated the collaborated effort, more talents came on-board.  Confusion and many conflicting interests transformed into a singular target that extended hope globally. Have you observed creative ideas, integrated across traditional silos,  into top inventions and renewed approaches? It’s a bit like anticipating new directions for mutual benefits.

It’s really a matter of neurons and dendrites that spark new synapses for change based on hope. Since a neuron‘s nothing more than a nerve cell, and your brain holds about 100 billion of these little critters, hope marches them much more in your favor – with a few carefully crafted acts. How do synapses fuel from hope?

Neurons project extensions called dendrite brain cells – which connect and reconnect daily, based on what you do. Axons, in contrast,  relay information back from the body back to the brain. In a rather complex electrochemical process, neurons communicate with each other in synapses, and that connection creates chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hope releases chemicals at each synapse, and these intensify motivation to act for solutions.

Hope can optimize learning and stoke innovative solutions to complex problems. Many mysteries still occur in the quadrillion synapses within a human brain, and yet wonderful benefits awaited optimistic mine rescuers, simply because they acted on doable brain research benefits. Workers fully expected resources to follow, which leads to hope’s reasonable expectation.

3). Expect quality takeaways and human brainpower tends to do the rest to make it happen.

Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

Chilean rescuers anticipated  survival for all 33 miners, and then stayed in the game until all were lifted out of their hopeless situation. Do you see lessons here for innovation’s progress?

In Wegmans’ food chain,  hope impacts work on a daily basis.  Employees run to higher peaks with novel suggestions expected to improve outcomes for all. Evaluations at Forbes, show Wegmans’ workers value their company for the way it diversifies to add hope and to create winning endpoints for the entire community. No wonder this highly respected business gets voted in as best place to work globally – year after year.

Recent discoveries show how the expectant brain uses the outside world to shape and reshape itself for hope – both physically and mentally. Plasticity, or the newly discovered breakthrough concept of brain “rewiring” is seen to alter a person’s moods, add hopeful approaches, or even cure a phobia of hopelessness– for rebooted benefits seen in the miners’ stories. Hope leads to harnessing human resources into tools  that move victory forward.

Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

4). Move resources into place for shared solutions, as Chilean leaders modeled progress against a backdrop of disaster. How so?

♣  People remained at the center, so they cooperated to win the miner’s freedom together.

♣  Shared talent for technology helped move research into  successful actions.

♣  Networking went global, and diverse crowds cheered on miners, for Chile and for the world.

♣  Results wove integrity into a greater good, and added motivation for increased mine safety in future.

♣  Miners and rescuers shared credit for bravery, care, purpose, and passion, even as media tried to single out heroes.  Miners and the rescue team favored sharing their victory, just as they’d shared talents and efforts to bring about a successful rescue.

♣  Honesty prevailed in stories about what tactics would work best, why, and how wins could be achieved. No interest was evident to diminish some players to favor others.

♣  All actions steered toward one shared innovative outcome – a mind-bending new invention to rescue  miners.

♣  A sense of urgency for a broken mining system, stoked adequate talents and investments to collaborate.

♣  Transparency in how the innovation was created and then used with confidence. Skeptical advisers warned Chile’s president to avoid involvement, because they thought the rescue plan would fail. Instead this leader hugged each miner as they came out of their mass grave, and announced to their leader, “Your shift just ended.”

Finally, hope wells up from brain based reflections, as naturally as geysers spring from the depths.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera reflects with miners

5). Reflect to implement lessons of leadership, learned from the Chilean mine disaster, and expect the same dynamic results due to hope’s added power to the brain. How, you may ask,  could  brain based reflections toggle talent, teamwork, and takeaway lessons of hope that powered up this Chilean group? Below are reflective questions that launch hope that transforms.

Any implications for increasing recession disasters  in our nation?

Questions that add hope also reboot performance for innovation:

  • Will your actions celebrate strengths, and suggest insights to stoke weaker areas in yourself and in others?
  • Are suggestions unbiased – and offered based on intelligent ideas rather than hidden agendas?
  • Does access and opportunity exist for diverse people  to participate and exchange ideas?
  • Does  transparency exist so that recipients and donors can agree on extravagant outcomes?
  • Are conflicts of interest removed and do accepted proposals  hold options for  overall success?
  • Were details amplified to clarify what went into  decisions, and how steps were evaluated?
  • Did the team agree on supportive leadership to help promote the best ideas at the end?
  • Did specific prompts encourage affirmations of ideas, as well as report improvements as they occurred?
  • Would folks who vulnerably posted life-changing innovations, know how others valued them?

The Brain on Hope

Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

Did you know that brains come equipped to change rapidly.  Your brain biologically reshapes itself through chemical and electrical activity.  Chileans who acted on hope, for instance,  speeded up the ethical changes people crave, yet too often fail to achieve at work. How does that fact increase hope?

Changes and growth are based more on acting hopefully, than on hearing, reading, or memorizing brain facts about hope’s part in innovation success.

See why staff meetings and lectures bore people, while activity often stokes hope and fuels change?

What can you expect from neurons?

Cell processes such as axons and dendrites can often regenerate hope, regardless of your age or tough situation. In a process called plasticity that simply refers to a fresh rewiring, you’ll find secrets to gain more hope, as well as causes of despair.  Nerve cells create the core of your neuron system, and impact basic changes for hope that can improve your situation, more than most people realize.

It’s true that neurons cannot regenerate if the cell body is destroyed. Yet they can grow, regenerate and change with hopeful acts. Hope will also rewire nightly into your brain’s equipment as you sleep, based on what you did and anticipated that day. Dendrites play a critical role in hope’s synapses in your brain, which determine the extent to which enthusiasm for solutions is transmitted both chemically and electrically.

Think of it as creating new neuron pathways to hope or changed directions away from misery, in any area of your day. Then act on specific changes you hope to see occur. Expect your own brain restructure and facilitate that process – just as rescuers, miners and the world moved together toward winning solutions. Simply put, whenever you act hopefully on what you expect to happen – your brain responds by creating just the right neuron pathways to bring about that new reality.

Brain on Hope - Lessons from Chilean Rescue

Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

Chemicals in your brain – such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, serotonin, cortisol, dopamine and other hormones, play amazing roles to solve near-impossibe problems. They also add brainpowered innovation, build openness to change, and regulate moods that impact your confidence to lead others through tough times.

You can read more about dendrites… and discover their function for your workplace with Dr. Eric Kandel., who along with, JH Schwartz JH, Jessell TM offers tips in the book Principles of Neural Science. I was also intrigued by Dr. Norman Doidge’s new book, The Brain that Changes Itself. The book takes this topic a step further, through research that shows how Protein Kinase A tackles a person’s DNA pool.  Only recently research affirmed that people can alter genes, so that a proclivity to naysay when the chips go down, for instance, could be altered to speak and act hopefully, regardless of  tough times.

What will you do differently today to build more dynamic hope for mind-bending wins  in your most challenging situation? How will that action add hope to this nation’s glut of recession, much like the Chilean rescuers added hope by building a lifeline for 33 doomed miners?

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9 thoughts on “The Brain on Hope – Lessons from Chilean Rescue

  1. Pingback: Body Narrative: Hope • The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review

  2. Pingback: Brainpowered Tools to Manage Excellence – Brain Leaders and Learners

  3. Robyn McMaster

    Ellen, when we started this work you asked if I would be able to ride a surfboard in a tsunami. I said I was willing and when you keep moving fast forward in the everyday-ness you find it IS POSSIBLE to DARE even to begin shaping a new world order. Change begins with those who act on it daily.

    Gary, thank you for the thumbs-up. It is through words of encouragement that spur me on.

    Dan, I love the collaboration Ellen began to build 15 years ago. She even invited me to the stage to assist in facilitating the 2009 Premiere Lecture at University of West Indies. The First Lady was in the audience because she was curious as to how a “lecture” could be facilitated. The people there absolutely leaped to the opportunity to contribute their brilliance and brilliance flowed. It is such an honor to be trusted to that degree, because I am human.

    I began to blog because I saw that Ellen had so much fun with hers. I found the challenge fun and never looked back. It spiked my writing in new ways as well.

    I appreciate the time you took to stop by at Brain Based Biz to check me out.

    May the hope you desire to build come forth as beautiful red apples after a perfect growing season.

  4. eweber Post author

    Thanks Dan, I feel honored that you’d come by and extend our collaboration from the MIX.

    Just mentioned the potency I see in your valued tools in the comment just made on my last hack – and increasingly I see its potential. Running to take a conference call… more later!

  5. eweber Post author

    Hey Gary, thanks for your thoughtful words and kind wishes! The blog was fun to write on one hand and a challenge on the other:-)

    While I saw the deep powers of hope in this story, I had no intention of showing people involved, as perfect:-) They’re not and that is why we can all hold only mind-bending hope together! Not perfect – but headed down a grand pathways with dynamite talent, faith, team skills and delight for the results we will get.

    Maybe I just described what I too often fall short of, yet what also gets me up in the morning, and inspires me again and again at the end of a good day. Thanks for all you offer to build hope, Gary!

  6. Dan


    This is a fabulous article. I was very moved by how you translated an event into a set of principles and then connected hope. If there is something that unifies and transforms us, hope is it. I also found myself reflecting deeply on a current assignment and how vital the quality of hope will be and where it will come from, including the processes I might use as a practitioner to help gather information, invite group problem-solving, and awaken possibilities. Thank for your extraordinary insight.

    And to Robyn’s comments, I was also touched. Robyn, I found your wonderful blog too, today. To both of you, it’s clear you are a “powerhouse team.” I’m excited and inspired!

    Many best wishes

  7. eweber Post author

    Wow – Robyn, I am deeply humbled at the honor of collaborating with you on a daily basis. You not only bring your own brilliance to work – but you so encourage my 2-bits. An innovation era requires collaboration at the peaks – and you make that reality an adventure.

    After two big conferences last week I am rested and ready again to roll! Let’s seek a venture filled with hope for a new world order this week! Dare?

  8. Robyn McMaster

    Ellen, as I read such an informative article like the one you wrote here, it “blows my mind” that you can pull so much from it. One of the reasons I gain much beyond measure in collaborating with you is the brilliance of your mind and the quickness of all that flows from it! I never cease to be thankful for the day you asked me to join you in the work of the MITA International Brain Center!

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