Rowan Coaching Releases White Paper on the #1 Thing People Need to Know About How Their Brain Works

rowan coaching white paperpeople need know about how brain works

Aug. 31 2023, Published 11:00 a.m. ET

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The #1 Thing You Need to Know About How Your Brain Works is that our emotions powerfully influence how (and whether) we think and act. This message underscores Rowan Coaching’s recently released whitepaper, which introduces people to the transformative practice of “neurocoaching”, or neuroscience-based coaching.

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Rowan Coaching was founded in 2015 by Colleen Koch, with a two-part goal. First, to bring ethical, executive-level, neuroscience-informed coaching to historically disenfranchised populations, including people of color, women, neurodivergent individuals, and the LGBTQ+ community. The second part is to facilitate human connection through applied neuroscience education that helps people understand how all our brains work.

Koch was bit by the neuroscience bug in her prior role as a brand executive at a boutique branding agency in New York City, focused on international luxury goods. “A lot of the best neuroscience studies that have come out in the past 20 years were funded by corporations who want to understand why people buy,” she says. “I wanted to use that data to support disenfranchised people access greater personal and professional power.” Koch also leveraged these skills to fundraise for the NYC criminal/social justice community, before training to become a coach at New York University and the NeuroLeadership Institute.

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Colleen’s neuroscience-based approach to coaching taps into a burgeoning business trend. In fact, 78% of LinkedIn’s 2022 Top Companies in the U.S. say they are investing in coaching for their employees. And it’s making a difference. One participant described a 6-part Mind Management training Koch developed for Siemens earlier this year as, “the best and most eye-opening development program I’ve ever attended.”

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By focusing on evidence-based tools, frameworks, and methodologies, Colleen is able to accelerate growth by teaching clients how our brains actually work - and how to work with them. This allows clients (and teams) to get out of their own way, and redirect newly freed-up bandwidth to the practical work of achieving their goals.

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“Culturally, we tend to relate to the body and the mind as two separately-functioning entities. This is a false binary that we need to unlearn. The brain is simply one organ in a complex, integrated body-brain machine. Once you understand this, you are able to optimize the mental machine responsible for all personal and professional output.”

Koch says that her personal goals as a coach involve empowering people to develop better relationships with their own minds, allowing them to “make friends with the monsters in their mental closets”, and gain both clarity and control of their direction in life. She caters to a diverse range of people, with around 60% of her clients being neurodivergent, a similar proportion being people of color, and 30% identifying as genderqueer.

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According to the paper, Emotional Intelligence and regulation are top predictors of both personal satisfaction and professional success. Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, can be broken down into two components. The first is Internal EQ, which is a person’s ability to notice, identify, and regulate their own emotions. The second is External EQ, which is the ability to recognize and influence the emotions of others.

The first step in developing Emotional Intelligence is developing a new relationship with emotions - work that requires us to unlearn much of what we were taught as children and continues to be reinforced by dominant cultural norms.

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“Emotions are not inherently illogical, or something that makes you weak or hysterical,” Koch tells us. “In fact, emotions serve a critical biological purpose. They are how our subconscious supercomputers communicate complex, integrated, experience-based data designed to encourage good decisions (those most likely to lead to pleasure, reward, and belonging), and discourage bad decisions (those most likely to lead to pain, punishment, and social isolation).”

Koch’s white paper references numerous studies which demonstrate that ignoring or suppressing emotions not only leads to negative health outcomes, it significantly limits your access to critical decision-making information. As life is just a series of decisions in a row, improved decision-making has an immediate and global impact on growth, success, wellness, personal happiness, and every other aspect of confidently navigating a rapidly changing world.

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“I often use the example of a home security system to help clients reframe their relationship to emotions,” Koch says. “When the system senses a threat and the alarm goes off, the point isn’t to just stand in front of the console, getting overwhelmed by the sound of the alarm. Emotional regulation is the process of recognizing that the purpose of the alarm is to draw your attention to a potential threat. So instead of standing there, progressively losing access to the part of your brain that reasons, we learn how to turn off the alarm and assess the validity of the threat.”

If you want to be able to accurately “read” the data your emotions provide, you need to first understand what influences how we feel. The paper describes three primary “emotional influence areas”: your body and mind - the state of your body-brain machine, your self-perceptive and identity narrative; (the state of) your relationships, and how connected or isolated you feel; and your cultural and physical environment - or what’s happening right now around you.

There’s good news: if you’ve ever owned a home security system, you know that most alarms don’t indicate a real threat. They go off because the dog got out, or your teenage son forgot to type disarm it when he got home from school. The same is true for most of our negative emotions.

Your boss doesn’t hate you. You just need to have a sandwich.


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