How can you improve your brain fitness?

5 More Ways to Develop Brain Fitness

I’m intrigued about the brain and what neuroscientists are discovering. It’s especially important that leaders look at ways they can develop their brain fitness on-the-job, to keep ahead of the curve.

Brain fitness is a key competitive advantage for anyone who aspires to higher levels of responsibilities at work. The higher your responsibilities, the more complex and nuanced your job becomes. Will your brain be fit enough to handle the stress?

Here are a few more suggestions, based on a Harvard Business Review article on “Cognitive Fitness” by professors Roderick Gilkey and Clint Kilts.

1.     Use both sides of the brain. Leadership involves both brain hemispheres. The left hemisphere is the primary source of neural information for routine tasks. The right deals with novelty and innovation, including experiences and data that are less structured. The right hemisphere is more image-based and operates in the realm of metaphors. Think of this division as big-picture vs. small-picture thinking. You’ll need to master both hemispheres to successfully navigate complex business systems, even if you prefer one way of thinking over the other.

2.     Use pattern recognition. Your brain scans your environment for patterns, discerns order and creates meaning from large amounts of data. Your organization depends on you to sift through this data quickly and assess the situation so you can determine appropriate actions. Superior pattern recognition is a major competitive advantage for consolidating learning and simplifying information (without being simplistic).

3.     Play as hard as you work. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you won’t stay with a task long enough to master it. Find ways to bring enjoyment to your work. Studies show that being in a good mood sets the stage for enhanced creativity and decision-making. Play improves your ability to reason and make sense of the world.

4.     Seek out novelty. The right brain is dedicated to discovery, exploration and processing of new experiences. Newly acquired knowledge is transferred to the left hemisphere, where it is organized, encoded and made available for routine use. The more you actively engage in new experiences, the more proficient you become at learning, thus preserving cognitive fitness. When you’re receptive to novelty and innovation, you tend to be better in a crisis because you spot opportunities for growth.

5.     Develop a beginner’s mind. Buddhists advocate developing a “beginner’s mind,” in which you step back from current thinking and conventions to cultivate new solutions. When you don’t feel compelled to have all the answers and allow for doubt, you encourage fresh perspectives.

All of these ideas are great to consider. In my work coaching executives, we take time to work on developing and expanding ways of thinking.

What sorts of things do you do at work that helps you strengthen your brain? I’d love to hear from you.

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