My Amygdala Hijack on Change!

Why Change is HARD presentation. Check.

HR Summit Conference. Check.

100 HR leaders at workshop. Check

Excited. Nervous. Ready. Check

Technical issues. Uncheck! Amygdala Hijack! Flight…

There I was staying in front of 100 anxious and confused human resources practitioners awaiting my presentation on Why Change is HARD! Nothing was going right. No Internet. No lapel microphone. No sound system connection for my presentation. Session now late. I had the conference organiser trying their best to find the Internet and sound people. Now I was 2 minutes late. Then I was told, it was too late, I had to jump on stage without some of the vital pieces of technology. My initial thoughts were – MY PRESENTATION IS NOW RUINED! Amygdala Hijack! Stress! Heart beating! Can’t think!


And sometimes, that just happens. Shit happens. A piece of communication was missed. I didn’t double check. I didn’t confirm on the day. I made assumptions. Change. When you have expectations around one thing and what happens can be the opposite, how do we deal with the change? The fear of failure? Fear of the unexpected? Fear of it all going terribly wrong. I just needed a shovel to dig a VERY big hole and I just wanted to jump into it.

There I was. The lights in my face, my slides up in lights and the faces of 100 people who were probably thinking – my worst fear has just happened to her. I didn’t know whether to scream or laugh. I mean I was talking on Change and the Brain. I was just about to talk about why change is hard and how we as leaders can make it easier. The power of positive thinking and mindfulness. What was going through my mind was pretty negative and my body was feeling tight around my chest. I change my mind (and in turn I am sure my brain) and believe me, there was 100,000’s of neurons firing and wiring together. I can do this! And I did, I fumbled, forgot things, ran around the room, shouted at the top of lungs, asked questions, presented insightful and great information. Outcome: Great round of applause! Feedback was fantastic…I received comments like – you shined; your presentation was wonderful; you did an amazing job; it was really interesting; I want to know and learn more!

There you have it! I could have crumbled, cried and even just ran out of the room (crossed my mind) – but I took a deep breath and changed my mind. Change can happen.  I left the HR Summit feeling like I could do just about anything! Okay, maybe not that again but at least I did overcome my fear of failure – and changed happened for myself and other great HR Leaders. My Amygdala Hijack decided to FIGHT!

Due to the overwhelming response, I have decided to share my slides to the group. Thank you to the participants who sat through my presentation and watch me patiently try my best to get my message and learnings across around change and the brain! You were a brilliant group! And a BIG thank you for the organisers at the HR Summit, you did a great job and I know these events are exhausting and stressful – thank for a fantastic conference and trying your best to fix the situation.

Presentation below:


Links in Presentation:



Change for a dollar




  1. says

    Hi Sonia,

    Really appreciated and empathised with your story, having been there
    on too many occasions!!

    Your slideshow was tantalising and as a student of the neuroscience of
    leadership, your words and images acted as a catalyst for firing up a
    cascade of neural activity and reinforced a number of neural maps.
    “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    Hey Sonia,

    EXACTLY the same thing happened to me yesterday morning, except I was about to run a virtual session so technology was paramount. Internet connection was fine, but an unforseen problem with the phone line meant I had to abort about 20 minutes in with cortisol flooding my brain (and some foul language to boot). Sigh….But, I got over it much much much quicker than I normally would have. Now, to wow them this Wednesday night.


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