If you’re reading this, I am willing to bet that your brain and mind are your most important assets. It is our brains that allow us to create value through creative thinking, connecting with others, solving problems, and more. Success – and happiness – all depend on how we use our brains. So brain care is important to all of us.
The question is whether we can improve our brains. Can we cultivate better brains? Can we enhance our brain power similar to how we improve our muscle power?
The good news coming from neuroscience is that we can indeed cultivate better brains. We can continue to learn and grow new neurons and neuronal connections throughout our lives. What we need is the desire to do this and the knowledge to take charge of the brain’s continual learning and growing process.
There are a fast-growing number of literature attempting to make links between findings between neuroscience and practical applications for those who want to enhance their brains. One of the really practical ones on my bookshelf is The Winner’s Brain by Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske.
Their focus in on some of the key strategies that great minds use to achieve success. Contrary to popular belief, high achievement has very little to do with IQ, financial resources, knowing the right people or even luck. History is full of examples: Auguste Rodin, the great French sculptor, came from a poor family and was rejected from art school three times. Despite these setbacks, he bounced back using each failure and disappointment to fuel his talents and passions.
Resilience and motivation are two critical abilities that highly successful people strengthen through repeated practice. The brains of successful people “light up” differently and work more efficiently than others because they’ve developed resilience and the ability to tap into motivation.
Here are some of the other strengths of what can be called “winners’ brains:”
- Focus: Winners’ brains are adept at tuning out distractions and choosing the best way to focus on a task to achieve a desired outcome.
- Energy: Winners’ brains learn how to maintain a bottomless supply of effort.
- Persistence: Winners’ brains have learned to persist longer than average ones.
- Practice: Winners’ brains adapt in exceptional ways over time, harnessing neuroplasticity to create new strengths through deliberate practice.
However we choose to define success, it is not something we are born with nor does being raised in advantageous environments ensure our success. What is needed is the right nurturing of our brain – the cultivating of strengths such as the ones identified by Brown and Fenske.
In the next post: Eight strategies for cultivating a better brain.