Become Smarter – 7 Secrets Leaders Use Daily to Increase their Intellect
In this fast-paced world, it takes tremendous mental agility to keep up. Especially in coaching and therapy professions, we have to stay current on how to help people as they face new challenges, PLUS how to run a business using modern technology. For example, now that we’re totally relying on video conferencing, I’ve noticed that switching to this technology has taken a toll on my being grounded and centered. Sometimes I just don’t feel smart enough. And when that feeling washes over me, this is what I do to become smarter…
My goal is to learn something new every day. My daily practice of mindfulness makes it so much easier to do this, for I’m constantly aware of how I’m being in my surroundings. This increases what I understand and it exercises my brain, so it’s functioning at peak capacity.
Here’s how leaders become smarter — their 7 secrets will work for you too! Let me just note that I think you are already smart, but you may want to become smarter in a few areas of life. After all, there’s always room for improvement.
1. Read every day. I vary the topics I consider, to give my brain a thorough workout. And I read with a purpose, not just for escapism or entertainment. I’m searching every book for a nugget I can use. Sometimes it’s a memoir. Sometimes it’s a complex book on human behavior. Sometimes it’s a novel that engages my imagination.
2. Search for understanding then wisdom. Knowledge is important because it increases your brain’s information database, but it doesn’t make you smarter. If you don’t understand what you’re learning, it’s not going to help. And when you do understand it, it’s important to take the third step and compare what you’ve learned with what you’ve already experienced and see how it will apply to something you will do in the future. Being able to use knowledge to make your life better is called wisdom.
3. Review to increase memory. Make notes while learning something new; or take a few minutes when you’re finished and summarize the main points. Fifteen minutes after you learn something new, review it in your mind again. And then the next day explain it to someone else. This process moves your new learning into your long-term memory.
4. Stay curious. Never lose your childish sense of wonder and curiosity. It will lead you to ask questions and push the boundaries of your world and mind. Ask questions that dig deeply as you analyze the subject from all perspectives. If this is difficult, imagine how someone, who thinks differently than you, would question the matter. Or better yet, call them up and ask them what they think!
5. Keep notebooks with you. Since you may not have time to find an answer immediately, record your questions about anything and everything, as they come to mind. Then make sure you come back to answer them soon. Because you’re learning new things all the time, you’re also going to be coming up with new ideas. Make sure you record all of these ideas in your notebook (or some kind of note app on your computer or tablet) so they’re preserved for a future time. You can visit them when it’s time to make something wonderful grow in your life or business.
6. Invite one new thing into each day. Being alive is all about experiencing, enjoying, and discovering. Routine is excellent, yet it’s also important to mix things up so you use different parts of your brain. Mindfulness encourages you to do things differently. Throughout your day look for ways to keep things fresh and interesting.
7. Remain flexible. As we age, our bodies may become less flexible, so will our brains. That’s why I encourage you to keep moving your body in a way that shows you love it. Your brain will benefit too! Don’t be attached to an outcome, but allow yourself to make mistakes, take risks and seize opportunities. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, by being an active participant in life. Being open to new ways of thinking allows you to become the best version of yourself.
But you might say, “Maria, none of these are secrets!” That’s exactly the point. There is no secret to becoming smarter, except doing the work…work that some people don’t want to do. That’s because our brains likes to do things the lazy way, so it may be painful to create these new habits. Please be compassionate with yourself, take it slowly and persevere. In time, you can rewire your brain to love learning!
Would you like to “become smarter” in the choices you make in your quest for a better you? I know how confusing it can be to determine the next step to take. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let review your options and work up a plan of action that fits your needs.