Deconstructing Unconscious Bias Using Neuroscience & Mindfulness

BL00 - Session Highlight From Mindful Leader Summit (1)

Key Highlights

  • Overcoming Bias to Achieve Potential: Quach shared her personal story of overcoming bias and trauma to achieve her potential, from being a refugee to graduating from Harvard and becoming a social entrepreneur. She emphasized that bias is not always bad, but it can be harmful when it is unconscious. She introduced the concept of the "NOTE Framework" to help people deconstruct their unconscious biases.
  • The 3 Brain States: Quach described the 3 brain states that are associated with different emotional and cognitive responses: Brain 1.0 (self-preservation), Brain 2.0 (reward and acquisition), and Brain 3.0 (well-being and self-mastery). She explained that unconscious biases are often rooted in Brain 1.0 and Brain 2.0, and that the key to taming them is to activate Brain 3.0.
  • The Inner Godzilla, Inner Teen Wolf, and Inner Sage: Quach used the metaphors of the "Inner Godzilla," "Inner Teen Wolf," and "Inner Sage" to represent the different brain states and how they can manifest in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. She explained that the Inner Godzilla is associated with fear and reactivity, the Inner Teen Wolf with impulsivity and short-term thinking, and the Inner Sage with wisdom, compassion, and long-term thinking.
  • The Importance of Mindfulness: Quach emphasized the importance of mindfulness in deconstructing unconscious bias and shifting into Brain 3.0. She explained that mindfulness helps us to become aware of our triggers and emotional states, and to choose how we respond to them.

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Session Summary

At the 2018 Mindful Leader Summit, Due Quach, CEO, Founder, and Author of Calm Clarity, shared her journey of self-discovery. Rather than showcasing accomplishments, she focused on internal obstacles that hinder mindful leadership. Quach invited the audience to confront their "inner beasts" – fear-driven Godzilla, impulsive Teen Wolf, and the wise Sage. Through her story and practical tools, she provided a roadmap for unlocking leadership potential.

Confronting the Noise: Dismantling Unconscious Bias

Quach, a former refugee turned successful social entrepreneur, highlighted her struggles with unconscious bias. Her vulnerability emphasized that even accomplished individuals face internal roadblocks. Quach introduced the NOTE Framework, a tool for identifying and dismantling unconscious biases. It covers acknowledging the "Noise" of societal influences, "Obstacles" we construct ourselves, "Triggers" that activate our "inner beasts," and the "Evolving Self" we strive to become, and it promotes self-awareness and transformation.

Beyond Achievements: Activating the Inner Sage

Quach's session then ventured beyond dismantling harmful biases, delving into the realm of neuroscience to discuss the three brain states that govern our behavior. Brain 1.0, driven by self-preservation, fuels the fear and reactivity of the "Inner Godzilla." Brain 2.0, focused on reward and acquisition, embodies the impulsiveness of the "Inner Teen Wolf." These primal states, though essential for survival, can often lead to impulsive decisions and hinder our ability to lead with wisdom and compassion.

Then there is Brain 3.0, the seat of well-being and self-mastery, where the wisdom of the "Inner Sage" resides. Activating Brain 3.0, Quach emphasized, is the key to mindful leadership. Through mindfulness practices like meditation and self-reflection, we cultivate awareness of our internal landscape, enabling us to identify and respond to triggers before they hijack our actions. By quieting the "inner beasts" and amplifying the voice of the "Inner Sage," we can lead with clarity, intention, and purpose.

Final Thoughts

Quach's session offered a practical guide for leaders to navigate internal biases and unlock their potential. By embracing vulnerability, understanding brain states, and cultivating mindfulness, leaders can move beyond achievements and embody mindful leadership. Taming "inner beasts" allows leaders to lead with the wisdom and compassion of their "Inner Sage," leaving a lasting impact.

Due is an author and social entrepreneur who grew up in inner-city Philadelphia, graduated from Harvard College and the Wharton School of Business, and built an international career in management consulting and private equity investments. Having started life in poverty as a refugee from Vietnam who suffered severe trauma, she created Calm Clarity to share the powerful neuroscience-based techniques that she developed to heal PTSD, navigate discrimination and overcome barriers, realize her potential, and now build social ventures that address systemic bias and inequity.

Her first book, Calm Clarity, is one of Fast Company’s 7 best business books of 2018.

Her journey is also featured in The Portal, an independent documentary film about meditation as a portal for healing and transformation:

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1 comment

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