In an earlier bankruptcy blog, I shared some insights gained from reading a fascinating article in the Harvard Business Review on the subject of neuroscience. As an Indiana bankruptcy attorney, I see evidence every day of my working life of the different ways in which people, and in particular small business owners, react to stress.
The author of the article, Dr. John Medina, is a developmental molecular biologist who works as a private consultant to business. ( Besides my being a very curious fellow, I’m on constant lookout for information that can help me serve my Indiana bankruptcy and financial counseling clients.)
I learned some very interesting things from “The Science of Thinking Smarter” article. For instance, our brains are built to handle acute stress. Any of us can probably have several truly stressful times, even during the course of one day, and handle those just fine. But, as Medina points out, suffering stress over a period of months (and he specifically refers to bad marriages, hectic workplaces, and money problems as three protracted stressors) is something our brains just are not made to withstand. Prolonged stress, according to Medina, causes the body to produce a set of hormones that disconnect the webbings between brain cells. Overstressed people (and I can certainly vouch for this from seeing tens of thousands of people in my Indiana bankruptcy offices during the past twenty-plus years!) don’t do math well, don’t process language efficiently, and have poorer memories.
Think about this for a moment – math , language, and memory skills are exactly the skills needed to excel in business. Plus, the three stressors Medina mentions – bad marriages, hectic workplaces, and money problems – are very often the precise three that lead to bankruptcy. Dr. Medina admits that some people’s genetic makeup seems to make them more resilient to stress. However, stress in general is bad business for both bodily health and for the health of any small business.
As I’ve reminded you before – I’m no brain scientist. I can relate, though, to the enormous relief expressed to me over and over again by clients once they have faced up to their financial realities and moved forward with filing bankruptcy. Whew! Now they can stop looking over their shoulders and start to look ahead. It almost seems that the process of avoiding a decision is a lot more stressful than the decision itself!