03:14 Monique: Adele. So, what’s your story? How did you come to study this area of human behavior?
00:23 Adele: Well, it started a long time ago. I’ve probably been in the field of personal development for over, oh gosh, 35 years now. And initially, I was doing everything that most people do when it comes to personal development or professional development. And that is I would study how to create a goal in the right way and then I would vision how to get there. I would do my affirmations and I would try and pull myself up when I fell down and all of that good stuff. And at the same time, I was coaching. So, I was a lead coach at one of the top industries in the business. And I still could not overcome a habit of quitting. I would quit time and time again. I also had a very, very high level of anxiety. So, I would have panic attacks. In fact, I had panic attacks every day for 10 years, and nothing I did seemed to shift this.
And so eventually, I started to ask myself, maybe it’s the operating instructions we’re using. Maybe we’ve misunderstood humanity. I mean, by we, I’ve misunderstood how the brain works. So, I decided to start to study and experience my own experience. What was going on inside my brain that was causing me to quit and was causing me to have these panic attacks? And I took myself to university. I got my master’s in Humanities, and I really dove deep into the decision-making part of our brain. And based between my studies and my own experience, I realized, yes, we are all using the wrong operating instructions.
And so, I started to teach new operating instructions. I devised a new way. And then as I started to teach this and I started asking my clients, how’s the success level now – whereas before between 4% to 25% of the people that I was working with would succeed, now, 87% on average, Monique, reach their goals. And so, I went, okay, we’re onto something here. We’ve got to work the brain the way it’s designed to be worked, the way it functions. And once we do that, nothing stands in the way of a person. It’s just unbelievable.
05:35 Monique: And what else did you try before realizing, “Oh, it’s potentially my brain”?
05:41 Adele: So, I went down to different paths. So, we need to look at-- the way that we are taught to develop ourself is two different areas. One area is what I call professional development. How do you get the right training, for example, which leaders do you follow, which directions do you do, how to make good choices – all of that is the professional development side. And then there’s the personal development, which is oftentimes meditation and therapy and affirmations and positive thinking and all of that side. So, there’s two different lanes that we are taught to travel down. And I did both. I mean, I became a meditation facilitator, I was a yoga instructor, I was doing breathing exercises and pranayama and all of the Eastern meditation mystical philosophy way. And at the same time, I was trying the professional/personal development side, which was follow the right leader and get the right training. And I participated in one of the leading companies, which was all about integrity. And once you’ve set your word, you better stick to your word and all of that. So, I was doing both of these and I was still failing. I mean, I’m just going to say it straight out. I was still failing. Nothing was working for me. That didn’t mean it wasn’t working for some people. It definitely was. But my attitude started to be, okay, well, if it doesn’t work for all of us, then maybe, MAYBE, we are misunderstanding something. And that was my starting point.
07:08 Monique: Wow, nice. Because so many of the young professionals that I’m coaching are in that very same spot. They work for organization to provide them with professional development resources and, on their own, they’re pursuing some personal development resources, just very similar to what you identified. And so, that’s why I was so excited to have you join me on today’s podcast. And so, what is the value? what’s the value in understanding this content now?
07:41 Adele: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, what we need to know is that in the last 20 or so years, let’s say 30 years, the advancements in the field of neuroscience are extraordinary. So, before that, science turned its attention to nature, and it was always really looking at the outside world and our perception of the outside world. So, uncovering truths out there. But about 20, 25 years ago, modern brain scanners changed our focus and we turned the lens internally on ourself. And what we are uncovering, Monique, is extraordinary. I mean, the way the human brain actually works is very different from how it appears to work to us when we look at ourselves objectively. The subjective experience is very different.
One of the very earliest things that I uncovered about my own brain was that the panic attacks that I was having were actually originating in the subconscious regions of my brain first, and my conscious mind was catching up to action and an activity that was already underway, starting at the unconscious regions of my brain. So, very quickly I started to realize, “Oh, I’m working at the wrong level. I can’t change my beliefs if my brain patterns are driving or giving rise to those beliefs. I can’t change my actions or my habits if my brain patterning is already taking me in the direction of that action.” I like to say, if your hand is already in the cookie jar, it’s hard to say, “I want a cookie.” You’re already taking the cookie. So, let’s start at the level of the brain patterning rather than trying to change the action or the behavior or the belief itself. And that’s what I realized quickly. And that’s where I began to change my actions.
09:33 Monique: And I imagine that there’s some of what you’re sharing related to why it takes an individual-- what is it on average? Seven failed attempts to lose weight, to stop smoking because it isn’t about that action of food, it isn’t about the action of the cigarette. There’s more there. And considering this body of work that you’re exploring or you’ve explored and have been duly recognized for the work that you’ve done, what exactly is the difference between patterns and habits? I just hear “habit” being the term of the now, yet it sounds similar to what you’re describing in terms of patterns.
10:22 Adele: Yeah. So, I like to look at your brain as an iceberg. So, at the top of the water are all of your actions, all of your behaviors, all of your beliefs. Let’s put conscious, subconscious, unconscious, everything that you do, everything that you feel, everything that you think belongs at the surface of the water. Below the water are your brain patterning. And I like to look at a brain pattern as just a neural pathway in the brain. That’s probably the easiest way to put it. When I say “pattern,” that’s what I’m referring to. I’m referring to that neural pathway.
Now, a neural pathway will give rise to an action that you will take repeatedly over and over and over again as long as that pattern exists in the brain. And that you could call a habit. It’s those repeated actions that you just do on automatic. That’s what I do. And that’s because the pattern just, the neural pathway in your brain just keeps firing, and that action just flows out of that brain pattern.
11:18 Monique: One of the things that I’m coaching a lot of my clients on, are matters related to building their leadership competencies, building their communication skills? Because I always believe in particular in the workplace, really honing in and developing your communication skills is that one skill that will take you far and wide inside of an organization because you have to work with and aside other people. And so, as a behavioral change expert, what do you say is the root cause for habits I often hear, or really-- yeah, it is habits that clients express of procrastination or overwhelm in their role as a new emerging leader?
12:05 Adele: Yeah. It’s a great question, because every person’s patterning, brain patterning, is unique to them. And so, here’s how I suggest the people set and achieve a goal. First of all, set the goal. Yes. So, let’s take the “I want to be a leader in an organization.” And so, that’s the goal that they’re trying to achieve. The next question is not, how do I get there? The next question is, why am I not there right now? And as the person asks that question, you will see that a whole bunch of actions that you should be taking that are not taking start to come to your mind. Beliefs about yourself and about the world and about the role of a leader start to come to your mind. Behaviors that you maybe should be adopting are not adopting start to come to your mind. Knowing that under each one of those that runs a brain pattern, your next job is to remove the pattern that is giving rise to that action behavior, belief. It is not to strive to get there, because if you don’t have a pattern in your brain to take that action, it’s very difficult to get there.
So, I’m going to give an example, because this is a little tricky. It’s a little different way of seeing the world. I worked with a woman, and this story is in my book and it’s a brilliant story, especially for young leaders who were trying to achieve something. She got a job as a manager at a nonprofit organization. And one of her roles was to run the meetings for all of the staff meetings. And she had to facilitate these and she had to set the agenda and take the group in that direction, just as any good leader would. The problem was, every time she tried to run one of these meetings, in her case, the men in the group-- and I’m not saying the men are different from women, please don’t misunderstand me, just in her experience. The men in the group would take her off track. So, they had their own agenda. They appeared to her to be more assertive than she was. And so, the meetings would just get derailed and they would just go in these different directions. No matter what she tried to do, she couldn’t seem to get these meetings back on track.
So, working with her patterning, I suggested, “Okay, what are you doing or not doing that is not working for you?” And she came to the realization, “Oh yeah. You know what? I just allow these men to just run off with their agenda and I don’t stop them. I don’t communicate clearly and assert myself and say, ‘Don’t do that.’” So, we worked on her patterns.
Now, the next meeting, the very next meeting after she had removed these patterns, she stood in that meeting and everything just went on track. Suddenly, the men almost seemed to, in her eyes, respect her and listen to her. And everybody was just nodding an agreement with her rather than interrupting her and driving the thing in their own direction.
And what happened? Well, what happened was this: When Rose was running a pattern in which she felt that she couldn’t communicate and that she wasn’t being assertive, that was actually happening. Her pattern was not being assertive. It was not communicating clearly. As she removed that pattern and replaced it with a new pattern, she automatically, spontaneously took the actions needed in order to get the group to the goal. Is this making sense, Monique? So, once we have a pattern that takes that action, taking that action is now natural. It is the way your brain works. When you don’t have that pattern, taking a pattern that leads the group off track is the way the pattern works. And that is how the pattern operates. Okay?
15:41 Monique: And so, how did that distinction get discovered for her in terms of what to replace it with?
15:49 Adele: I love that question, because our brain is always looking to take the correct action. I like to say, there is nothing in the human brain that wants to sabotage us. We have a fundamental misunderstanding about how our brain works. Every aspect of your brain wants you to achieve your goals. Everything about us is trying to always take us in the direction of where we want to go. The thing about the brain, though, is that once it has determined a pattern, it prefers that action over a new action. So, there’s only one thing that the human being fears and that is the unknown.
So, when we’re born, our human brain is not born with patterning. We have to very quickly piece together our patterns. And you can see this in children as they grow up. They’re born a baby. They’re born pretty much a blank slate. From the moment that they’re born, though, their brain is very quickly trying to put together patterns so that it can take action. And every new situation that a child encounters, the brain will formulate a pattern. And once that pattern is formulated, it will rely on that pattern in order to know what action to take. Okay? So, throughout childhood, those patterns are being built very, very quickly.
Adolescence, massive pattern creation. You probably saw that in your boys. If I have been at the age of about 24, 25, that pattern creation starts to slow down. And at that point, the brain will prefer to rely on those old patterns that it’s already created than create new ones. But that doesn’t mean that the human brain is not always in a position or capable of creating new patterns. It’s called plasticity. You may have heard that term. Your brain is always attempting to rewire itself and connect you better to where you are in this current moment and where you want to go. And that’s its whole design.
So, when we removed those old patterns, when Rose just let go of the pattern that didn’t allow her to be assertive, her brain already knew, “Oh, wait a minute. This pattern isn’t working. We need to be assertive.” But the old pattern wouldn’t allow her to be assertive. Does that make sense? She removes the old pattern. Now, her brain is in a position to create that brand new pattern that takes the required action. And it happens automatically. It’s an intriguing thing that our brain does, but it knows. Yup, that’s what’s required, but knows at a subconscious level and just creates that pattern on your behalf.
18:28 Monique: But what is the process for letting go?
18:32 Adele: Yeah, I love that question. So, it’s a four-step process that I teach. It’s quite simple. However, simple isn’t easy, as they say.
18:41 Monique: Is this your re-patterning technique?
18:43 Adele: This is the re-patterning technique. So, I’m going to briefly go over it, but all the instructions for this are in my book if anybody wants to know exactly how to do it.
18:52 Monique: And since you mentioned that, we will be sharing all of your-- for listeners to contact and learn more about this contact, Adele, and what she has to offer, we’ll be providing that in the show notes at tuesdayswithcoachmo.com. So, be certain to go there.
20:13 Adele: All right. So, the four-step process is this: First you have to identify the pattern. Now, once-- let me just go through those new operating instructions again. Set a goal. Your next question is not how to get to that goal. Please scratch that question off. Your next question is, why am I not there right now? That gives you a list of actions, behaviors, beliefs, that are not working. Under each one of those actions, behavior, belief, there runs a brain pattern. So, now you have to identify the pattern itself. A pattern is identifiable by-- it’s a three-part intertwining: physical sensation, emotion, and thought. When the three aspects of our being come together, it leads to a particular action, a particular behavior, or a particular belief. So, do I identify a pattern? We just say, “Okay, what am I feeling right now? Where am I feeling that? And what one thought is going through my mind?” And that is step one. You’re just identifying the pattern.
The next step is to own it as a pattern and not as it’s a situation out there that needs fixing. I always say there’s nothing to fix. There is just a pattern in the way. So, to flip that switch, we recognize that that is a pattern of our creation coming from our past that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is what is actually happening in this current situation.
So then, the third step is to deconstruct or tease apart of that pattern. It’s a three-part intertwining, how to do this as in the book, but it’s a simple method of observation in which we separate the physical from the emotional, from the thought process. It’s the intertwining that drives the action. Okay?
Then the fourth step there is to create those new patterns. As I said, your brain has pretty much already done that anyway, but we do have a process that recognizes that the brain has now created a new pattern. And so, it’s that four steps that is hugely effective. Once you know how to do that, like I said, 87% success rate.
22:29 Monique: That is so interesting because the client session I had right before you and I got together for today’s podcast is a young professional who now recognizes that she allows herself to get so emotionally wedded to her work. One small thing goes wrong, one person says something that may be, as she perceives, a negative or critique of something she’s done, and her whole persona becomes shattered. What are the cues that are coming up that this pattern exists? So, along the lines of what you’re saying, I’m in no way espousing that I was supporting her with the re-patterning technique, but certainly it seems like some parallels there of that noticing.
23:21 Adele: Absolutely. The first step is you’ve got to become aware of, what am I actually doing? Because all too many times, Mo, we are taught that there is a thing that we are supposed to do, and then everybody’s supposed to strive to get to that thing, especially in leadership. We have these ideas of good leadership. And that looks like X, Y, Z. And you have to be X, Y, Z if you’re going to be a good leader.
The problem is that all of us have a different starting place. Some of us are already-- we’re at A, B, C. Other ones of us are D, E, F, right?
23:56 Monique: Yes.
23:57 Adele: And everybody’s striving towards the same place, not recognizing that we all have different things that we’re doing. Some of which are already at that level of leadership and some of which need to be removed and some of which need to be changed altogether. And so, once we get there, it’s like, oh yeah, leadership isn’t a defined position. It’s who am I as a leader. And that’s a really different question.
24:26 Monique: Well, and that is just powerful. That was actually where I was going in terms of inviting you to unpack what is your experience in terms of patterns of behavior that are shaped by workplace cultures, and you just said it. There seems to be this goal and everyone is pursuing it as if they’re at the same starting place.
24:48 Adele: Yes. And I’ll tell you something else that’s fascinating about the human brain. We have structured our culture out there. So, institutions and all that as if they are hierarchies. So, there is a leader at the top, and then there are those who are following the leader, and we’re all supposed to be heading in the same direction. But actually, the human brain functions more of a heterarchy. Now, what is that? So, everybody’s probably heard of networks. So, a network is Google. We all Google a term and that changes the algorithm. So, everybody is in a leadership role in that, inside Google. We’ve also heard of a hierarchy in which you have the leader and the leader sets the rules, and everybody’s supposed to follow what the leader does.
A heterarchy is a fluid hierarchy. Who is supposed to lead, depending on the situation, rises to the top of the hierarchy. And then when that particular problem is solved, they drop back into a followership role, and another leader takes the place and then drops back into a fellowship role. So, it’s not that leadership goes away altogether. It’s just that the optimal leader then takes that place as needed based on their patterning. And when that situation is solved, that leader drops back into the fold, and the next leader comes to the fore who has the optimal patterns to solve that problem. And that’s the way our brain is always working. And that’s the way we ideally should be structuring leadership.
26:05 Monique: And what I love about what you said – oh, that’s phenomenal – is if someone leads with the patterns to support proficiency or production at a time and then shifts back to followership. And I wonder how even that pattern may support more empathetic emotion-centered, human-centered organizations. I think that’s phenomenal.
26:31 Adele: Yeah. We have one question in pattern making and that is not, is it right? So, when you recognize your brain as a pattern maker – that’s what I teach is that your brain is creating patterns – the question “Is that right or is that good?” drops away and it gets replaced with a question of “Does that work? Does what I’m doing work?” And when we say “does that work,” it’s “Does it work for everybody? Is there anybody that I’m impacting in a way that is not supportive for the group goals?” And so, because we’re using a method of subtracting, we’re subtracting the pattern that doesn’t work, that has to be our sole question. Not is it right or good, because frankly, we don’t know what’s required. The situations today are far too complex. And this is why I believe leadership now is shifting and changing because the world today is speeding up to the point where everybody knows that we don’t know where we’re going anymore. Let’s just admit it.
So, how is a leader supposed to predict what is required when nobody knows? So, that’s why reflecting back and asking-- simply asking the question: Okay, I’m taking an action, is that action working for everybody? No. All right, I don’t need to know what the correct action is. All I have to do is remove the action that’s not working. There is something fundamentally peaceful, forgiving, generous, empathetic about the ability to do that. It’s like, “Oh yeah, I don’t need to know what the right solution is. I just have to remove what doesn’t work for everybody. Whew!” And then you can take care of the group.
28:13 Monique: I mean, I just felt the “whew” just as hearing you say that. So, thank you for sharing that. As we’re drawing to a close in our time together, I welcome an opportunity for you to share some of the resources and tools that you may, in particular, suggest to young professionals to support them in developing their leadership skills with these re-patterning techniques that you have created.
28:38 Adele: Yeah. Well, there’s a few ways to get the re-patterning technique. I highly recommend it for every leader out there because, again, it will just allow you to be the best leader you can be and to recognize your own uniqueness and where you want and need to take the group rather than what you’ve been told you need to do. So, one way is to get my book Shift: 4 Steps to Personal Empowerment. That you can get for free. I gift it. All I ask is that people pay for shipping and handling, but you can get that through my website. Another way is you can access all my training and that includes Leadership Training on my Patternmaker Hub, which again is accessible through my website. And you can get a 30-day free trial there. So, check it out. And yeah, there’s free training on a adelespraggon.com. So, if you just go there, there’s lots of options, lots of opportunities to get the four steps, first of all, and then continue the training to pattern making.
29:34 Monique: And we absolutely will be sharing that information in the show notes for today’s episode of tuesdayswithcoachmo.com. And so, thank you so much for not only the dedication and commitment that you’ve made to this work, but more importantly, that you are sharing it with others and helping in nurturing the development and application of this work in individuals’ lives. And so, thank you so much for spending time with me here on Tuesdays with Coach Mo.