Highlight : White matter, gray matter and leadership

“Gratitude is a learned skill that the brain actually has to learn how to do, and people who learn to be appreciative and grateful learn how to see life through the lenses of joy.”

In his ministry and interactions with others, Dr. Marcus Warner has come across four main traits of effective leaders. One of them is a return to joy, but what does that mean?

Consider two people walk into the same room. The joy-minded person is going to look for anything that brings joy – the color of the wallpaper, the smiling person in the corner. They will simultaneously increase their joy because of how they process the environment. A fear-minded person, in contrast, is going to immediately feel unsure and guarded because of the person in the corner who might hurt them, or the shadows in the room that make them uneasy.

“Most people these days see life through the lens of fear. They fear map their world.”

We train our brain to process things in certain ways. We can train our brains to focus on joy, which will, in turn, make us more effective leaders.

Marcus takes this one step further and points to the brain science that supports it. White matter builds around any habit that we form, and it operates in the brain at 200 times per second. Gray matter, which is mistakenly considered the brain, operates quickly, but in comparison, it processes at 5-6 times per second.

“Think about trying to hit a major league fastball. Brain science has shown it’s impossible to do unless you develop a certain amount of white matter, because you simply can’t read what’s happening and react that fast without it.”

In the same way, when we make appreciation a habit in our life, white matter is built around it and gratitude becomes our default position. When we can practice gratitude in each situation, it eventually becomes an automatic pattern of thought regardless of our circumstances. What are you facing today? Choosing joy can realign your perspective and increase your effectiveness as a leader. Marcus unpacks this more in his book, Rare Leadership.

Dr. Marcus Warner is the president of Deeper Walk International.

Key Scriptures: Genesis 1; Ephesians 4:29

Featured Songs: Unashamed by Chris August; Impossible by Meredith Andrews; Faithful to the End by Bethel Music

4 habits of rare leaders