For no light matter is at stake; the question concerns the very manner in which human life is to be lived.
"We can design our life in any way we want, but whether we will thrive depends on how well that life fits human predispositions"
Frans De Waal, 2006
rewiring brains for humaneness
First provider - professional development on emotional neuroscience for leadership and learning since 2001
Empathy, kindness and compassion in leadership, learning and the realization of human potential
What's this site about?
Reflecting on human interactions, on their nature, origins, and development; reflecting on the essence of humanity and humaneness manifest in human interaction; reflecting on securing positive and constructive interactions to enrich and empower individuals, groups and organizations everywhere
What's its aim?
To promote, in the words of the inspirational Jaron Lanier, "an alternative intellectual environment that is large enough to roam in...a new encompassing architecture of interconnected thoughts that can engulf a person with a different worldview".
The information is in the architecture.
Who's it for?
Anyone interested in human nature and its survival; anyone wanting new perspectives on human interactions and development; and everyone working with people, especially those in education, training, leadership and organization development.
What are its premises?
No human being is a 'thing apart' from nature and other humans
Our humanity and humaneness only exist through our interactions with nature and other humans
All human interactions, including learning and leadership, are based on emotion and all interactions begin with a feeling
This is overlooked by most of the systems we create and by almost all learning and development organizations
Neuroscience is now giving deep insights into human interactions and these insights are being used to shape, direct and control our development and our behaviours - whether we like it or not
These same insights must be productively employed to preserve and nurture our humaneness
They must become the common coinage of leaders, teachers and learning and development professionals everywhere
- Humanity now faces its greatest challenges - including the survival of humaneness and what it means to be human - and these challenges can only be met by engaging with new insights and understandings of what we are
And, as H G Wells said, as the human condition "becomes ever more a race between education and catastrophe...let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow"
"Even if, just in time, humans impose a check on their blind and unbelievably stupid conduct, they remain threatened by a progressive decline of all those attributes and attainments that constitute their humanity."
Konrad Lorenz in 'The Waning of Humaneness'
The Need to Rethink
"The moment an idea has meaning for you - that is, it suddenly 'makes sense' to you - it becomes yours, a part of what you are. At that moment you literally rewire your brain and change who you are. Seek out the best ideas and make them part of you."
Every interaction, all we think, say or do in those interactions, is based on emotion and feeling. This simple fact is overlooked in almost all the formal and organizational systems we create.
Natural and instinctual learning and leadership behaviours work because they evolved with us - conventional and traditional ones fail because they were invented for societal and organizational purposes and imposed on us. Our brains and instincts are natural systems now compelled to live in an increasingly un-natural world.
We are faced with a choice - do we lose our humaneness by attempting to fit it to the unnatural and constantly changing world that organizations and technology creates around us? Or do we create an organizational and technological world that accommodates and complements our humaneness? Either way, we need to re-think and change how we live, work and create meaning together.
"We can, if we so desire, become the sculptors of our own brains"
Santiago Ramon y Cajal
The brain now reading this - yours - is a product of a few hundred million years of emotional development, a few hundred thousand years of intellectual development, a few thousand years of cultural development, and hopefully at least a few decades of personal experiential development. This history in inescapable, and everything you feel, think, do and say is shaped by it.
This site is intended to help you understand and make better use of your brain's history - and allow your brain to network more effectively - within yourself, with your environment, and with other brains around you.
People who understand memetics will have an increasing advantage in life, especially in preventing themselves from being manipulated or taken advantage of. If you better understand how your mind works, you can better navigate through a world of increasingly subtle manipulation.
Heretics are the only antidote to the entropy of human thought
Passivity is proper to domesticated animals. It can be imperfectly imposed upon humans by threatening violence. It may be fully achieved by an all-encompassing system which defines existence.
John Ralston Saul
(Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West)
This model provides the basis for our work. It can be expanded, developed or amended to fit the widest range of circumstances.
Other examples of its application are found on other pages of this site.
The human race is experiencing an intellectual Stockholm syndrome of pandemic proportions - and most people have an unthinking devotion to imposed ideas that hold their minds captive.
Large skepticism brings large understanding,
little skepticism brings little understanding
and with no skepticism there will be no understanding.
Xi Zhi (1130-1200)
"Our education system ignores the role of emotion in learning and decision making"
"Cognition is not as logical as we once thought, and emotions are not always so illogical"
Our brains are confined, but our minds extend as far as our senses allow
- and that includes into other brains and other minds.
"I have long tormented my brain with thinking and pondering, day and night, but your kind eyes have brought me to a decision"
Soul-Chaplain formed when Paul Nicholas and colleagues in higher education and local government came together to apply emotional neuroscience - especially of leadership and learning - to improve the quality and value of human interaction in organizations.
Who is Paul Nicholas? Paul is an authority on the role of emotions in leadership and learning and has provided training for thousands of individuals and teams in over 300 organisations across five continents.
Before bringing Soul-Chaplain together he was a Headteacher, School Principal, Teaching and Learning Consultant and Leadership Development Adviser for UK Local Government, National Health Service and Social Care managers. He is currently a Leadership and Management Advisor with Hoople Ltd.
Paul is a Chartered Physicist and Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society and holds degrees in physics, molecular biology and education.
I want to be with those who know secret things
It is dangerous to identify the real world with the models we construct to explain it
John von Neumann
1. What do we do? Help people and organizations learn, think and develop differently
2. How? By providing structured, personalised and contextualised opportunities for individuals and groups to analyse, learn about, articulate and develop their professional thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
3. What techniques do we use? We compose and facilitate highly developmental learning conversations. Design of these exploits neuroscience, but the style of interaction is influenced by person-centred counselling and psychotherapy.
4. What does success look like? Clients regularly describe this as the most focused and transformative professional development they have experienced, and every participant enjoys a unique learning journey.
5. What's in it for participants? Innovative and transformative professional development - participation changes how people think and feel and improves individual, team and organization performance.
Participants learn transferrable development skills - materials and techniques are designed so that participants will continue to use them for their own development and that of their team or organization. As such they constitute the first designed truly Continuing Professional Development system.
Distrust of the contemplative temperament arises less from innate philistinism than from a suspicion of anything that cannot be counted, stuffed, framed or mounted over the fireplace
Paul Nicholas, Director
For more information visit Hoople Ltd Training and Development at:
You may not be interested in neuroscience, but neuroscience is interested in you
Dedicated to the rabbit in a hat - who brings love, inspiration and magic