Are you in the zone? You know, when ideas come to you, solutions are crystallized and you’re ultra-productive?

We call that ideal experience your Performance Sweet Spot. It’s the perfect brain state for learning and innovation, one in which we focus more on solutions, than on problems and are open to others’ ideas.

We’ve all been there, but how do we stay there?

More often than not, we get knocked out of our Sweet Spot, especially if we work in organizations experiencing a lot of change. That’s because our brains see change as a threat, making us react, resist and focus hold onto old ways of doing things.

Too much pressure, increasing deadlines, or a new announcement can trigger our brain’s threat response and our primitive limbic response kicks in. We shift into survival mode and higher levels of the stress hormones norepinephrine and cortisol flood our brain chemistry, increase our heart rate and blood pressure. We become irritable, anxious, fearful of the unknown and can feel overwhelmed.

In this state, our executive center of the brain is severely compromised. We can no longer plan, evaluate, work toward strategic goals, learn. You get the idea.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Neuroscience sheds new light on how to give our brain what it needs to focus, think in new ways and solve problems – despite ongoing change.

Productivity Blind Spot

Ironically, many organizational cultures and approaches to management work against what the brain needs to be in this optimum state. It’s like having a blind spot to creating a climate that supports productivity. We give people ambiguous roles, we tell people what to do, we focus on problems, and provide people with gadgets that keep their brains in a stressful, always-on state 24 hours a day.

Learning how to get ourselves, and others, back into our Sweet Spot is key to a more productive, engaged workforce that is open to change. We just need to know how to work with our brain and give it what it needs in our ever-changing environment.

The bottom line? Your brain needs to feel safe before it can focus and be at its best, in its Performance Sweet Spot.

Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our Fortune 500 clients scientifically improve leadership.