Businesses transform when humans transform. A leader’s ability to inspire high engagement and innovation is a hot commodity in today’s complex and uncertain world. In this blog series, we will share simple ways to inspire behavior change – by looking at your brain – on inspiration!

If you’ve ever felt inspired, you know it is a positive experience involving a highly compelling desire to act on something that moves you emotionally. Inspiration influences people to create, collaborate and unite. It also feeds our innate need to increase our sense of status among peers and in our social group.

When inspired, we are filled with hope and optimism and imagine greater possibilities. We can creatively problem solve with ease. Here are 3 ways to boost inspiration for yourself and others:

Mega Motivation

‘Inspired people are found to be more intrinsically motivated, and less extrinsically motivated’* They are driven by values, beliefs and goals that are personally important to them. This deeper desire to perform well and do meaningful work, is the secret sauce of sustained high performance.

When motivation is high, we benefit from high dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter essential for learning, processing what is rewarding to us, and planful action. It serves as a chemical messenger, keeping our eye on the prize and enjoying what we do. This neural chemistry provides the perfect neural conditions for sustaining engagement and focus through uncertainty and change.

Ask people about what they care about, and what inspires them to do their best. Look for ways to link roles and daily tasks to the achievement of meaningful goals.

Alpha Activation

Researchers have found that inspired brains have increased alpha wave activity. This is a slower brain wave than the beta wave that dominates our working brain state while engaged in meetings, analyzing information and when under stress. Beta wave activity is the ‘analyzation’ wave.

Alpha waves create a calm yet alert brain state found to precede moments of insight. It is the meditative state experienced when we are ‘in flow’ and fully absorbed in the present moment. It is the optimum state for learning and innovation. Alpha wave activity is the creativity wave.

Encourage people to spend time in daily meditation or a mindful experience that brings them joy. This is a great way to lower stress and increase moments of insight and creativity.

Status Surge

As social beings, our brains are highly motivated to increase our social status. This innate drive orients us to seek opportunities to demonstrate our unique talents, to learn and grow, and to be seen as competent and confident in front of others. The experience of a boost in social status activates the brain’s reward circuitry, ramping up engagement and confidence. Inspired people report a higher belief in their abilities, higher self-esteem, and optimism compared to their uninspired peers. * We can help people get into the optimum zone for inspiration by boosting their status in simple ways.

Help people get clear on their career or learning aspirations and actively support ways for them to grow personally and professionally.  Provide regular positive acknowledgment of these achievements and celebrate even small milestones reached.

Our next blog will look at how increasing assurance and certainty creates space for inspiration.

* ‘Inspired to get there: The effects of trait and goal inspiration on goal progressPersonality and Individual Differences, Vol. 52, Issue 1, January 2012, P. 56-60.