The Neuroscience of Aspirations

Our brains are designed for growth, and when we have an aspirational focus, our brains are primed to embrace new knowledge and grow our neural network. This can be accomplished at any age or any point in our career, and it is all based on neuroplasticity.

It is open to influence and being curious. This engages the prefrontal cortex. According to the Coal Springs Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center, “The prefrontal cortex is thought to play an important role in higher brain functions. It is a critical part of the executive system, which refers to planning reasoning and judgment. It is also involved in personality and emotions by contributing to the assessment and control of appropriate social behaviors.”

Neuroscientists have confirmed that having aspirations enlarges and increases our brain mass. So, what are the benefits of aspirations?

Benefits of Setting Aspirations

1. Aspirational teams help each other’s brains release positive neurotransmitters, which help facilitate team bonding.

2. Aspirational thinking creates more mental space for the team to navigate. According to Judith E. Glaser in her book Conversational Intelligence, when we focus on understanding the needs and aspirations of others, we create a safe space for people to feel they belong on the same team. We bring the person whose stance is wait and see on board.

3. Aspirational teams have a higher level of trust. “According to sociologists Niklas Luhmann and John Coleman, trust is a risky decision whereby the trusting person risks being exploited, yet hopes that his or her trust will be rewarded by trustworthy behavior (Luhmann, 1968; Coleman, 1990). Also, trust increases the efficiency of social interaction. If people trust and trust is rewarded, everyone is typically better off compared with a situation in which no one trusts, and people act in an untrustworthy manner. Economist Kenneth Arrow, therefore, described trust as ‘an important lubricant of a social system’” (Arrow, 1974).

4. Aspirational leaders spend more time building their team and delegating, which helps their team members to grow.

5. Aspirational teams are more in sync and in tune with each other’s intentions.