By better understanding the brain we can harness its potential and become the best leaders we can be. Here are 10 neuroscientific considerations to help you bolster your brain power.
1. Focus on one thing at a time
In order to multitask we need to divide our attention and switch between tasks which can cause fatigue, exhaustion and agitation and affect whether we are present in the moment, what we are doing, whether we learn and whether we will remember the task well.
Multitasking negatively affects productivity and we are actually not accomplishing as much as we think because our prefrontal cortex chooses what we pay attention to. Focus on one thing at a time to be effective.
Multitasking negatively affects productivity
2. Rely on your intuition
Intuition is subliminal processing based on implicit knowledge, involving pre-conscious pattern recognition.
Or, put another way, our intuition is led by our experience, formed as a collection of memories, beliefs and past behaviour and can be drawn upon for quick and accurate decisions when problem solving.
Often the more experienced we are the more we can rely on our intuition to solve problems well and quickly.
Sometimes we need time to make good decisions, but other times knowing how to tune in to follow your gut can be very helpful in business as long as we are aware of unconscious biases.
3. Failure can promote growth
Throughout our lives, we have all encountered situations where we have not succeeded.
Although it may initially feel discouraging, failure can actually serve as a launching pad for valuable lessons and growth in the long run.
When you have failed at something, accept what has happened and keep it in perspective but also use it as an opportunity to share ideas and learn.
Psychological research suggests that some key traits of success are a growth mindset, determination, resilience and psychological flexibility.
Failure can … serve as a launching pad for valuable lessons and growth
4. Embrace change to enhance neuroplasticity
We actually change the structure and function of the brain by what we choose to do.
When you push yourselves out of your comfort zone and embrace change, you increase your neuroplasticity which means you are altering and improving the neural networks in the brain and making new connections through learning, practice, experiences and environmental influences.
It is a form of remapping or reorganising the brain and explains how the brain can recover from damage through reinforcement or repetitive activities. Neuroplasticity enhances and strengthens our cognitive abilities and memory.
When you push yourselves out of your comfort zone and embrace change, you increase your neuroplasticity
5. Think things through
When relying on our habitual ways of thinking and behaving, we are less likely to show growth, an ability to adapt or change or be nimble.
If we test our ability to adapt we are likely to be able to pivot, influence and lead well and break bad habits.
However, being impulsive can be problematic.
Our prefrontal cortex is particularly adept at anticipating and predicting consequences so taking a moment to focus our attention and think things through is a wise move that can help us feel calmer, more engaged, and more in control of our behaviour.
6. Stress less
When short-term stress signals reach the hypothalamus, signals are sent to inhibit the enteric nervous system (the gut) and stimulate the adrenal medulla which secretes adrenaline to make us ready for action.
However, during chronic stress, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland secrete hormones that stimulate the adrenals to secrete cortisol.
Although experiencing some stress in the short term can enhance our performance and help us perform better in certain situations, like before a presentation, excessive and chronic secretion of cortisol over time can have adverse effects on both our mental and physical wellbeing.
During chronic stress, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland secrete hormones that stimulate the adrenals to secrete cortisol
7. Positive outlooks can improve outcomes
Positive self-talk and avoiding toxic people can go a surprisingly long way in changing your outcomes at work.
A self-fulfilling prophecy can be both positive or negative.
If you lack confidence in your abilities to reach a goal, you might unconsciously obstruct your progress towards it.
However, if you have a higher level of self-assurance, you are more inclined to take actions that will help you attain your objective.
8. Communicate clearly
Over-explaining or being inconsistent can cause people to lose interest and only partially absorb important information.
Our brains tend to fill in gaps with personal experiences, beliefs and input from potentially misinformed sources which is dangerous and hinders productivity.
Over-explaining or being inconsistent can cause people to lose interest
9. Cultivate self-awareness
To enhance business connections, mitigate unconscious biases, and improve personal management skills, it is crucial to cultivate self-awareness, which involves acknowledging and comprehending one’s own emotions.
Equally, try to see things from other people’s perspective as well.
10. Recharge to avoid burnout
Imagine stress as a pair of scales, where one side represents the various demands and pressures we face, whether they are real or perceived, while the other side reflects our ability to handle them.
When the weight of the demands outweighs our ability to cope, the scales become unbalanced, and we may begin to feel overwhelmed by stress in the long run.
Before the balance tips the wrong way, identify the signals early such as fatigue, anxiety, irritability, raised blood pressure and sleepless nights despite feelings of exhaustion, and talk to someone about how you feel, prioritise sleep and disconnect to recharge.
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