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You may have heard the quote from Henry Self-awareness modelFord’s biography- “if you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right!”

This fundamental statement is now backed by neuroscience where experts have clearly shown that a positive, optimistic approach to life and its challenges, creates a healthier and happier individual compared to a negative (Eeyore) approach.

The classic line in neural psychology is, “As neurons fire together they wire together.” The seemingly endless flow of the thoughts and feelings through your mind, leaves behind traces in your brain. The area of your brain which has been attributed the area of ‘self-awareness’ is the Insular Cortex  (Insula) and the theory suggests that if you regularly have ‘can do’ positive thoughts your outcomes are more likely to be positive.  The Eeyore approach of “nothing good ever happens to me” is likely to give you the outcome you are expecting!

Self-awareness  is therefore key to a positive, happy, fulfilled and productive life as well as an improved workplace environment. Environment is one of the key factors in the HSE Management Standards which should bring this topic to the attention of all managers. The benefits of self-aware staff are:

  • More consistently balanced behaviours
  • People have less need to exert power  over or control others
  • Colleagues consistently treat people well
  • Emotions are managed better
  • More sensitivity is shown to others
  • Healthy workplace relationships are more likely to result
  • People learn from their mistakes willingly
  • Work life is enhanced
  • Performance is enhanced.

This will only happen if there is a positive will from management and their colleagues to value the input of every person in the organisation. There are reports of small and medium organisations who employ this approach and they have people queuing up to join them as an ‘employer of choice’. 

This approach takes commitment, humility and time – not always the key factors in today’s organisations.  I sincerely hope 2015 can buck the trend and that people, at all levels, are encouraged to reduce the ‘me’ culture and replace it with the ‘we’ culture and enhance their own experience whilst increasing productivity.


Ann McCracken is a Director of AMC2 and the vice president of the International Management Association (ISMA UK) – the professional body for stress management Practitioners.

She specialises in developing a positive and resilient working culture in organisations by introducing effective strategies in performance and wellbeing at all levels. The effectiveness of such a positive working culture is measured and assessed using AMC2 Corporate Diagnostic innovative surveys which include measurement of psychosocial factors, stress and wellbeing. Having initially trained as a scientist, she carried out research with DEFRA and consultancy in the NHS.

She spent 10 years in Education before retraining as a stress management practitioner in 1996. She is the author of Stress Gremlins©, regularly writes/broadcasts and is an external lecturer at Westminster University. She is also a Key Note/Motivational speaker/Conference Chair.

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