From Burnout To Brain-Based Breakthroughs

5 min read
20 June 2024
From Burnout To Brain-Based Breakthroughs

A few years ago, I experienced extreme burnout and chose to leave my executive leadership position in the corporate world. As a leader of shared services, I had responsibility for developing our people programs (HR) as well as leading IT, legal, customer service, and project coordination. The organization had won multiple awards including the Gallup Global Exceptional Workplace Award three years in a row.

I couldn’t understand how despite implementing all the best practices and winning awards for them, I ended up in a state of extreme burnout. I began a journey to determine what I was missing from my current knowledge and understanding of people and performance. I quickly discovered how misaligned many present work practices are with the neuroscience of human performance.

In my opinion, the time has come for workplace transformation and evolution to new and improved practices that better support the humans within them. When leaders better understand how and why their current behaviors might be negatively impacting the humans they are leading, it can lead to significant transformation and growth. Many leaders (like I was) are simply unaware of the science that supports a different methodology and approach to people than we’ve used historically.

I am passionate about the possibilities that exist when workplaces decide to leverage a neuroscience-based approach to performance. In doing so, they have the opportunity to unlock greater human potential, optimize people’s performance, and expand people’s capacity to perform in spite of the challenges in the world today. The result of doing so will be not only better engagement, performance, and business results, but also improved well-being and experiences for their people.

One result of my deep dive into the neuroscience of human performance was a desire to identify an assessment that could be used with leaders to bring awareness to these critical capabilities. I recognized a high-quality 360 assessment could help leaders become more aware of their current state by seeking feedback from those who they interact with regularly.

After completing the mBIT Certification (multiple brain integration techniques) created by the late Grant Soosalu that emphasized the importance of integrating our multiple intelligences and applying them in our lives, I wanted to find an assessment that incorporated this approach. I’ve seen the transformative power of aligning and integrating our multiple intelligences to solve problems, make decisions, improve performance and relationships. Therefore, I wanted an assessment that included not just the concept of the head brain but also the heart and gut brains.

As part of my search, I came upon the phenomenal award-winning “Make Me A Leader” documentary released in 2018, that included Grant and his work on mBIT. The documentary highlighted the many ways leadership practices need to change to support people in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world we are in today.

The documentary presented seven leadership strategies to become more compassionate and effective leaders all based on research and scientific discoveries about the human body. The key leadership strategies were meant to lay the foundation for what would be needed in this ever-changing world.

Despite the documentary being a few years pre-pandemic, the concepts within it are even more relevant in the world we are living and working in today. In many ways the documentary predicted the experience that most people are having today with respect to leadership and performance in the workplace. The sense that we need leaders who have a basic understanding of the science of human performance.

My Journey with the i4 Neuroleader™ Certification

I began researching the About my Brain Institute, i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment, and Certification and quickly realized it was the perfect fit. I was excited to take the assessment and get started on the certification.

When I first started the journey, I thought I would quickly move through the material, integrate the insights, and begin offering the assessment. However, as I embarked on my journey, I immediately discovered the i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment, content, and supporting materials were more substantial than I anticipated.

Instead of quickly moving through the material, I found myself diving deep into the lessons that provided an in-depth understanding of the concepts and how best to apply and use them. Unlike some certifications that are primarily about completion, this program delivered lessons with the best brain-friendly practices taught by a multitude of experts.

As a result, I found myself motivated, engaged, and truly learning valuable and relevant information I could immediately make use if in my own life. The variety of instructors, supporting material, and quality of the content and delivery made my learning experience not just valuable but enjoyable. Upon completion of the materials, I’m compelled to return to them once again to continue gleaning more valuable insights and information.

The i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment was unlike any other assessment I have taken or encountered in my career. When I sat down for my debrief with Silvia Damiano, I was a bit nervous as I hadn’t seen my results yet. I’d spent the last few years working on my “brain-friendly” practices, but I was now self-aware enough to know I was still struggling in some areas.

The assessment provided a clear picture of where I was on my journey and the areas that still required attention and development. For years, I’d pushed myself to the breaking point trying to achieve my way to validation, self-worth, and recognition. As a result, I’d learned to entirely ignore most of the messages my body was sending me trying to warn me of the effects of my decisions.

Silvia was able to look at my assessment results and quickly help me unpack the contributing factors and what I could change or work on to improve. The accuracy and insights from the assessment only provided me additional motivation to learn more about the four pillars and the sixteen supporting competencies in the i4 Neuroleader™ Model.

The “quick” journey I had planned to take led me to spending almost a year on the material. I have watched and rewatched the various sections and spent considerable time putting this learning into practice with my clients. As I used the assessment with my clients, I was able to watch them have similar insights and become aware of challenges they had not ever considered before.

The supporting books Leadership is Upside Down and Brain Friendly Leadership also provide an abundance of strategies that can be applied and used around the pillars and competencies. The book presents a compelling case for leadership transformation and the need for more brain-based leadership capabilities in our leaders. I keep these materials within arms’ reach of my desk as I tend to pull them out and reference them frequently.

I am excited to leverage the i4 Neuroleader™ Model and Methodology in working with workplaces to create more brain-friendly workplaces. The i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment will now become part of our company’s Evolving Leaders program, allowing participants to truly understand the capabilities and competencies necessary for success in the world today.

This i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment complements the work we are doing in trying to evolve the past patterns and practices of workplaces to better support human performance and experiences at work. I am confident the leaders in our program will get the same value I experienced in going through the content and be able to leverage these insights to improve as leaders.

I am incredibly grateful to have found Silvia Damiano and the About my Brain Institute to partner with around the important topic of evolving our leaders and workplaces to better support the humans within them.

Jessica Tietjen
Jessica Tietjen
 Jessica Tietjen, J.D. is a dynamic leader and expert in talent management and organizational development, specializing in Agile NeuroPerformance Partnering. With a passion for fostering peak performance and transformational growth, Jessica has dedicated her career to enhancing human potential within the workplace. She is an executive leader, 5x author, speaker, podcast host, consultant, wife, and mother (boy & twin girls). She holds multiple advanced certifications in NeuroPerformance and leadership development, equipping her with cutting-edge techniques grounded in neuroscience. Known for her ability to create transformation and build a culture of excellence, Jessica is committed to empowering leaders and teams to achieve their highest potential.


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