Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Moving From Impasse to Insight

Written by: on April 9, 2024

Reading Dr David Rock’s “Your Brain at Work” is something like hearing a pep talk for one’s brain, in relation to something that happens everyday: decision-making. He addresses it, though, from the vantage point of neurobiology, to help us understanding what is going on in our prefrontal cortex, that “small, fragile, and energy-hungry brain region” [1], so that increased self-awareness (or brain awareness) will bring more efficiency in the planning, organizing, and prioritizing required in a fast-paced, performance based work culture. I appreciated how Rock then portrayed the difference this increased awareness brought to his fictional characters, Emily and Paul, but showing the differences between two takes, informed by their director. It offers hope that a better understanding of our brains can bring new levels of mastery into decision-making, resulting in stronger performance achievement.

One of my key take-aways from this book was the “ARIA” model for getting past a roadblock, an acronym for Awareness, Reflection, Insight, and Action [2] designed to help break up log-jams in the mind by moving from an impasse to an insight [3]. For me, there is a natural tie-in with classic business coaching, which I was first exposed to in John Whitmore’s “GROW” coaching model (walking someone through their Goal, Reality, Options, Will) [4]. Like in “GROW”, insight occurs within a person, by intentionally honing in on one thought, quieting the mind from other thoughts, and giving the ability to strengthen clear focus by actual reflection. Rock develops his theory by using brain data that supports how insight can be harnessed into action, which all happens in a split second [5]. Kahnemann develops this “eureka” or “a-ha” moment in his work on Slow Thinking, or “System 2”, from which he builds his heuristics model [6].

This is relevant for many multi-vocational workers such as myself. I not only have to quiet the noise of responsibilities for one job, but two, along with all the usual priorities of family and home life, and other commitments. For me, the axiom I picked up over 25 years ago still strengthens this decision-making skill: “First things first, one thing at a time, always one more thing”. With ARIA, there is now an added dimension of the neurobiology that works to help sort out priorities, and get things done.



[1] David Rock, Your Brain at Work, Revised and Updated: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, (HarperCollins, 2020), Kindle edition, 243.

[2] Rock, Your Brain At Work, 81.

[3] Rock, Your Brain At Work, 75.

[4] John Whitmore, Coaching For Performance,

[5] Rock, Your Brain At Work, 83.

[6] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow. (Doubleday Canada, 2011). He writes in his work, “The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice and concentration” (Ch. 1).

About the Author


Joel Zantingh

Joel Zantingh serves as the Canadian Coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance's Peace and Reconciliation Network, and as Director of Engagement with Lausanne Movement Canada. He has served in local and national roles within the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, and led their global mission arm. He has experience teaching in formal and informal settings with Bible college students and leaders from various cultures and generations. Joel and Christie are parents to adult children, as well as grandparents. They reside in Guelph, Ont., situated on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and home to many past, present and future First Nations peoples, including the Anishinnabe and Hodinöhsö:ni'.

One response to “Moving From Impasse to Insight”

  1. mm Kari says:

    Hi Joel, I, too, appreciated Rock’s ARIA model. What is something you will change in your daily practices because of this new insight?

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