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Urban Talks: New thoughts towards innovation

A person is typically flooded with about 50,000 thoughts in a day. Around 80% of these thoughts are negative. With this inner traffic, it is no easy task for anybody to manage them well. Is it any wonder that with this amount of negative thoughts one barely manages not to give up or break down? Is it any wonder that with over thousands of thoughts in a day standing between a person and his goal, one finds difficulty in keeping in touch with one’s self without necessarily losing sanity.

Marion Neubronner, a Harvard-educated trained specialist for 10 years during her talk playfully but mindfully engaged her audience on how to tame their thoughts, breathe and calm down, and learn how to respond rather than react to them in a rather primitive emotional way.

Neubronner started her talk by saying that when people gather together, they spark off energy called mirror neurons which explain why people tend to pattern their behaviour to the other person’s when they act. This is the reason why a person smiles back when the other person smiles, an indication of connection of thoughts between the two of them. This also explains why husband and wife begin to look like each other after many years.

Optimizing engagement by managing thoughts

A lot of focus is spent these days on how to optimize people engagement in the organization. This is mainly due to the fact that 30% of people in an organization are disengaged. Hence, how to make people shine brighter, get ignited and inspired is a vital work to do if one wants to get the most out of a person’s optimum engagement.

Neubronner Marion

The battlefield is on the realm of thoughts, i.e., helping people tame their thoughts and channel them creatively and constructively.

Thoughts when properly acknowledged can be one’s greatest friend, but when mishandled, it can be also one’s most destructive foe.

Neubronner stressed that we are crowded with 50, 000 thoughts daily, around 80% of which are negative. She further pointed out that we are distracted not by our thoughts but by our emotions. We are wired to repetitive thoughts that are important to us. How one respond to these thoughts is what essentially make the difference.

She explains that our thoughts are governed by two areas in the brain.  On one hand, the reptilian area of brain, which is wired to keep us safe, but can take over us if we allow them so. It is emotional and reactive. On the other hand, we also have the pre-frontal lobe cortex area of the brain, which when activated, guides the person to act with more wisdom and clarity. It is where empathy, creativity, intuition, and decision-making takes place.

The challenge lies on how to channel our thoughts from being reactive to responsive.

The key?


Neubronner emphasized that we have lots of neural expressways in our lives which makes us reactive rather than responsive. Calming the thoughts and slowing down the inner traffic are an important beginning.

Breathing is an important aspect of the being calm and clear. You break running thoughts by breathing. A calm body ultimately redounds to a calm mind.

To do this, one needs to “take a deep breath and walk out of that expressway so that you can find your way to respond rather than react.”  This, according to her, leads to better relationships both at home and the workplace.

“You do not need to react to communicate, you only need to respond… when you respond you can recover from conflict in the company, from pain, suffering and loss,” Neubronner emphasized.

Forming new and good thoughts towards innovation

Neubronner told the audience that a lot of old thoughts are from the past (around 95% of them) and most of them are usually negative. Having negative thoughts does not necessarily make one a negative person. As a person, it makes you a good mother or a leader but it does not make you a good innovator.

She further emphasized that if one wants to be an innovator, one needs to have new thoughts. But more than new thoughts, one also needs to have good thoughts. And good thoughts have something to do with values.

Reaction is not good, but response is. Response which comes from prefrontal lobe is the way toward innovation.

The way towards innovation requires getting out of comfort zone, of getting into the edge, so to say.

In parting, Neubronner left a thought-provoking challenge: “If you go to the edge, that’s when innovation happens. Do you have the courage to go to that edge?”

Learn more from Neubronner’s talk by watching the full video below:

Marion Neubronner is a learning specialist with over 25 years of experience. Having trained over 10000 adult learners, she informs companies’ training and development through advances in learning theory. Marion graduated with a Distinction from the National Institute of Education, Singapore. She obtained a Specialist Diploma in Counseling and Guidance from Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore and a Masters in Education in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard, USA.