We don't have enough focus. We don't see eye to eye.
You've heard these two phrases, or something similar, spoken at work or in an organization you volunteer for.
Lack of focus, and lack of interpersonal harmony, are two of the biggest reasons we don't take action in our places of work, our social organizations, our churches, and our governing boards, on the things that could move us forward.
Think about your work, both professional and volunteer. Do these two issues come up?
You can probably think of several reasons why there is lack of focus or disharmony. A lot of the causes seem like they are "out there" somewhere. Institutional problems, politics, bad attitudes, outdated regulations, that guy who is nothing but a windbag in meetings, the out-of-touch manager. There are a million different things that cause us to get off track with our focus, and a million more that can get in the way of us getting along.
The problem is, we can't control the external environment. We can't change other people. However, there is something we can control, and that is our own brain. We can change ourselves.
Executive Function and Social Synchrony
There are two Right Brain characteristics brought forward by playing music that will help you with achieving focus and harmony. They are outlined in the journal "Frontiers in Neuroscience":
"The notion of executive function refers to the cognitive processes orchestrated by the prefrontal cortex that allow us to stay focused on means and goals, and to willfully (with conscious control) alter our behaviors in response to changes in the environment (Banich, 2009). They include cognitive control (attention and inhibition), working memory and cognitive flexibility (task switching)."
"Furthermore, musical activities are often social. Indeed, it has been proposed that the evolutionary function of music has always been to increase cooperation, coordination, communication, co-pathy, contact, social cognition and cohesion between the members of a group (Koelsch, 2010). It seems that one of these effects is the fact that a certain form of social synchronization is instilled, implying the respect of and adaptation to each other. In fact, in empirical studies it has often been described that acting in synchrony with a partner may increase prosocial commitment (Kokal et al., 2011), social affiliation (Hove and Risen, 2009), trust (Launay et al., 2013), cooperation (Wiltermuth and Heath, 2009) and feelings of compassion (Valdesolo et al., 2010; Valdesolo and Desteno, 2011). When playing music in a group one has to automatically synchronize to the other musicians. The state of synchrony is therefore generated naturally."
Could your life improve if you played a musical instrument? When you look around and see a need for more focus, when you experience a lot of negative, argumentative meetings, consider this: music might just be the solution you've been missing.
When our children take music lessons, we're glad to know they are getting this kind of brain training. Staying focused on means and goals combined with the ability to create social affiliation are important developmental areas for children.
But let's expand our thinking to our adult world: a great deal of problem solving could be accomplished if we all had better executive function and social synchrony.
Who would have thought? Playing violin could be the thing that helps you develop professionally. If this rings true for you, don't wait to inquire. It could be life changing.