Are you interested in getting smarter?
I think most people are. However, I also think most people misinterpret what “getting smarter” really means… or… should mean.
Let me explain…
When most people think of increasing their brainpower, all they think about is increasing their IQ. And there are many books out there promising that if you just add a few points to your IQ, your life will improve… and improve dramatically.
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Nice hook for selling books… but… I disagree with the concept. If we want to be successful in business and in life, I don’t think the goal is to have a higher IQ…
Not at all. And here’s why…
I’ve had the good fortune to meet many smart people. A few of them legitimate geniuses, with extremely high IQs. But when I sized up their accomplishments, there was much to be desired.
So if increasing your IQ doesn’t make you smarter in terms of reaching more of your goals, what will?
I think I have an answer…
For me, getting smarter in terms of reaching my goals means improving myself in certain key areas: my ability to concentrate, the speed at which I learn, my problem-solving ability, my mental endurance, the clarity of my writing, the depth of my creativity… and… my ability to remember, recall, and put what I learn into practice.
Does this resonate with you? Would improving yourself in these key areas help you reach more of your goals?
Richard Restak, a renowned neuropsychiatrist and author of Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential, referred to the above as “goals of cognition.” Your mind’s ability to attend, identify, and act. And the latest research shows you can significantly improve your cognition with training.
You see, even though the brain is an organ, in many ways it behaves like a muscle. What I mean is, your brain, unlike other physical organs, doesn’t wear out. In fact, the more you use your brain, and the more you challenge it, the stronger it gets.
The flip side is also true. If your brain isn’t stimulated consistently, it atrophies. “Use it or lose it” is the operating principle behind your brain’s performance as well as your physical body’s performance.
All right, so let’s say you’re on board. You want to “get smarter.” You want your brain to get stronger and better instead of weaker and slower. What do you need to do? You need to do some brain training.
You train your brain the same way as you train your body – with both direct training and cross-training.
Direct training is where you focus “directly” on improving the specific skills you are after.
And cross-training is where you engage in activities that improve the skills you are after… “indirectly.”
A simple example: If a baseball player wants to increase his bat speed, he would engage in both batting practice (direct training)… and weight training (cross-training).
A more elaborate example…
Let’s say you want to increase the effectiveness of the marketing copy you write.
First, you identify and work on the mechanics involved in copy writing. You do this by reading “how to” books, taking courses, going to seminars… and so on. These are all direct-training activities.
Next, you identify cross-training opportunities – things like reading popular novels. And not just reading them for entertainment… but for form, word choice, etc. Watching hit movies. Also not just for entertainment… but to learn about pacing, action, and the things that motivate different kinds of people.
Okay. Now that I’ve got you thinking in this direction, I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with your own brain-training program to improve your cognitive skills and give a “bump” to your chances of success in reaching your specific goals. You simply need to:
- Identify both direct and cross-training activities that will help you… and…
- Engage in them, frequently… preferably daily, at the same time every day.