In my last blog, I mentioned that Neanderthals would be my next theme. If you are wondering how this relates to global mobility, read on!
Inspired by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences and author of Thinking Fast and Slow, he explains the human brain in terms of System 1, the fast, instinctive and emotional brain and System 2, the slow, rational centre where complex reasoning takes place. Buried deep in our brains sits the amygdala, the epicentre of system 1, responsible for fight and flight – it represents our survival instincts and is the oldest part of the human brain (hence Neanderthals, which is a little catchier than homo erectus) – it is activated by fear. System 2 is the prefrontal cortex, located behind our foreheads. Over time system 2 has evolved and has essentially differentiated the human species from other animals – it allows us to do algebra, to hypothesise, reflect, imagine… But system 1 quite literally kept us alive, so both are necessary. More importantly, when one fires up the other slows down. It’s a zero-sum game.
So how does this relate to global mobility? Reading this book very much made the connection in my mind that it is fear that lights up system 1; a strange animal seen by a Neanderthal would be presumed dangerous. Groups are necessary for us to feel safe. These instincts still exist in our brains today, albeit to a lesser extent but they are at the heart of ‘exclusive’ behaviour. Anyone or anything that looks, sounds, or acts differently can fire up a part of our brains alerting us to danger. It takes a strong system 2 to actively seek out people who are different from ourselves and that is what society and organisations are promoting – to draw a blunt and simplistic conclusion, the key to diversity is to minimise fear, create safe environments for our employees to express and be themselves, to invite differences and challenge. In organisations, this can take many forms but international experiences, or working with different cultures is an excellent starting point.
Highly recommended reading: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
As well as, Sapiens, A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari and Lord of the Flies by William Golding, if you prefer a fictional novel.