Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking to Dr. Modupe Akinola from Columbia Business School (CBS). As the Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business at CBS, her research examines how stress can influence individual and organizational performance. And on the latest series by National Geographic, Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, she provides the actor with tips for controlling stress, ways to combat its risk to long-term health, and a challenge to confront stress head-on.
Be sure to watch to the very end as she opens up about the impact her upbringing as the child of immigrant parents has had in her life’s work.
Dorkaholics: Working with Chris Hemsworth, how was his adoption of your tips about handling stress? Did he meet what you were expecting? Or did he surpass expectations?
Modupe Akinola: He met my expectations and in some ways surpassed them too. Partially because he is a highly motivated person and wanted to make it work. Chris is not a person who likes to fail. He really wants to make it work and so it’s always fun working with people who are up for a challenge.
Dorkaholics: As a professor at Columbia Business School, you interact mostly with future high performance executives. What are some of the most impactful techniques that those types of individuals can apply to their own daily lives in order to cope with natural stress?
Modupe Akinola: Well, one of the techniques is actually just first reminding them to acknowledge their stress and to change the dominant narrative we have about stress. Everyone says stress is bad, avoid it, reduce it, run away from it, deny it. And instead I try to teach my students and the executives I work with to acknowledge their stress, it exists, to welcome it. It’s there because they care about something. And that since stress was designed to facilitate, our bodies are supposed to have these reactions that it does to situations that are uncertain or might seem dangerous or have some fear element in it. And in some ways, if we trust our bodies and rise to the occasion when we experience stress, then we’ll all be better off. A few key things, stress is not always bad and that you can control your reaction to it and your experience with stress to have the outcomes you desire.
More about Modupe Akinola
Akinola holds a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology, as well as a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University. She also holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Learn more on her personal website: https://www.modupeakinola.com/
More about Limitless with Chris Hemsworth
What if you could combat aging and discover the full potential of the human body? Global movie star Chris Hemsworth (“Extraction,” “Thor,” “The Avengers”) explores this revolutionary idea in the new National Geographic original series “Limitless with Chris Hemsworth,” created by Darren Aronofsky and hailing from his production company Protozoa and Jane Root’s Nutopia. New scientific research is shattering conventional wisdom about the human body and offering fascinating insights into how we can all unlock our body’s superpowers to fight illness, perform better and even reverse the aging process. This science is put to the test by Hemsworth, who, despite being in peak superhero condition, is on a personal mission to learn how to extend our health, strength and intellect further into our later years. Undergoing a series of epic trials and extraordinary challenges in order to understand the limits of the human body, he’ll learn firsthand how we can live better for longer by discovering ways to regenerate damage, maximize strength, build resilience, supercharge memory and confront mortality. Entertaining, immersive and life-changing, “Limitless” will rewrite the rulebook on living better for longer.
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