Nine months ago today, I was punched in the gut, and the heart, and the brain. I received the results of my SPECT brain scan imaging from the Amen Clinic in San Francisco and my life changed in a heartbeat. As I looked at my scans for the first time with a semi untrained eye, I knew they were bad. Nothing like being told you have the brain of a senior citizen, when you are in your late forties.

Looking at me from the outside, I'm sure you'd disagree. I'm young, confident, "put together" and present pretty well. Heck, I teach this stuff, so I should be an expert, right? But, my heart and my gut were telling me something different.

Thank you intuition! Through the ability to know something without the involvement of conscious reasoning, I was able to create deeper awareness of the symptoms of anxiety, depression and general sluggishness I was experiencing and begin the process of adapting.

I also credit my intuition for influencing me to take a closer look at the work of leadership expert and founder of the About my Brain Institute, Silvia Damiano.

The i4 Neuroleader Model she developed is a personal leadership model, supported by neuroscience with the brain at its core, made up of four key competencies – Performance, Collaboration, Innovation and Agility – desired outcomes I hear from my clients mouths every day. I originally became certified in the i4 Model a couple of years prior, reminding me of the truth to the proverb...

“When the student is ready, the master will appear.”


The i4 Model features brain and body processes that have been relegated and in many cases forgotten when it comes to leadership and management practices. 

Abilities such as intuition, the importance of an integrated brain, inspiration and imagination are the origins of the term 'i4'.

These four abilities exist in our brains and bodies and what would you say if I said – anyone can learn how to develop them! By tapping into my inner core abilities I’ve re-learned how to lead and thrive in this ever-changing world.

Once the intuition had kicked in, it was time to get busy on integration – the effective functioning of the various components of the brain and body that result in a healthy system. To restore a sense of equilibrium or balance, I began focusing on mindfulness.

Having said that, I’m convinced the term mindfulness gets a bad rap in a business world that considers such things to be “airy-fairy” or “woo-woo.” Therefore, I’m following notable authors and scholars in this space by referring to mindfulness as having the mental readiness to “pay attention!”

Next up – inspiration – the energy, enthusiasm and desire to act as a result of feeling mentally and emotionally stimulated. Along the way, I developed the courage to re-introduce my authentic and vulnerable self to the world. A critically acclaimed film calls the high stress, pressure filled world of high school advancement and college admissions the "Race to Nowhere."

I now understand that title can work just as well to describe life, if we do not know and live as our true selves. Given that I make my living through communication, I had a built-in platform to share my story and the more that I did, the more that I found I was not alone. Now I spend my time benefitting from the generosity of others willing to join the conversation.

Over the past several months, I began to re-imagine my work – the faculty of mentally forming new concepts, ideas or patterns without involving the senses.

My curiosity is at an all-time high and is being fed through reading and listening, my attitude is bolstered through daily affirmations and my drive through visualizing the effects of the i4 Neuroleader Revolution!

As I conclude, rest assured that the news I received about my brain is not terminal. I do not have cancer, or a tumor, or some other horrible degenerative disease. The brain is "plastic" and my brain is repairing daily.

Everything we need to be better spouses, friends, family members, parents, co-workers, managers, leaders and people is already within us. Let's discover how to harness the power of the head and the heart together.

Watch Brooke's Testimonial 

I was offered the opportunity to become certified in the i4 Neuroleader Model a couple of years ago and and accepted on a lark. I knew neuroscience was emerging as driving force in the leadership space and I was confident it would be a beautiful complement to my consultant toolkit. Little did I know how relevant the model and tools would be to me both professionally and personally! I was attracted to the model by its simple elegance. Unlike other neuroscience-backed leadership models out there, the i4 Neuroleader Model offers practical application and immediate results. Through this work, I've witnessed greater integration of personal and professional personas in myself and others. 

Principal • Incite Partners, San Francisco
Originally posted on: 11 May 2016
Last updated on: 18 February 2024

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Brooke Schiller

Brooke Schiller

Brooke Schiller brings over 25 years of real world, practical experience in organizational development and performance consulting to her roles as Principal at Incite Partners and Senior Consultant with About My Brain Institute. She works for and consults with companies ranging in size from small non-profits to large global brands, including: Microsoft, Google, HP, Cisco Systems, Genentech, Silicon Valley Bank, Gap, Inc., and Levi Strauss. Brooke is an experienced organizational development consultant, coach, facilitator, anthropologist and storyteller committed to fostering brain friendly cultures where personal insights ignite professional breakthroughs.

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