Here are seven quirky habits from geniuses that will make you smarter
There’s a fascinating link between geniuses and eccentric behaviour. Einstein picked cigarette butts off the street and used the tobacco for his pipe; Benjamin Franklin sat naked in front of a window every morning and let the air circulate over his body. He called it an “air bath”.
Their eccentricity isn’t completely without explanation; there are mental benefits behind some of their madness.
Surround yourself with 24-karat gold
Every night, Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,300 inventions including the floppy disk, would retire to his “Calm Room” — a bathroom tiled in 24-karat gold. He explained “The gold blocks out radio waves and television signals that are harmful to the imagination.”
He’s onto something. While the link between radio waves and cancer is still debated, the cognitive effects of overexposure are undeniable. You probably can’t surround yourself with 24-karat gold, but you can step away from the “smog” of radio waves we live in — computers, WI-fi, cell phones, Bluetooth headsets.
To boost your mental performance, give your mind a reprieve from the technological buzz by taking a walk in nature or meditating. Schedule daily time to mentally disconnect and recharge.
The chill factor
Benjamin Franklin went for daily swims in London’s chilly river Thames; Theodore Roosevelt went skinny-dipping in the cold waters of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. every winter.
Being submerged in water of various temperatures for physical and mental benefits is an ancient practice. The Greek sage Hippocrates said that water therapy “allays lassitude” (physical or mental weakness).
When you take a cold shower or swim, the shock causes your blood to move to the core of your body, and bathes your brain and vital organs in fresh blood.
Finish your showers with turning the temperature as cold as possible to give your brain an invigorating boost. If you’re brave, you can try an ice bath.
Don’t season your food. Yet
Thomas Edison had a rigorous interview process for any potential employees. Besides requiring they are well-versed in random subjects, Edison gave them “The Salt Test.”
He’d invite them to have a bowl of soup, but anyone adding salt without first tasting the soup failed the test. Salting before tasting was a clear sign of making decisions based on unfounded assumptions.
Intelligent minds are critical minds. Never jump in without testing the water; or in this case, tasting the soup.
A hunger strike
Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician, would systematically starve himself for 40 day periods. He taught his disciples his strict water-only fast in the belief that it boosted mental perception and creativity.
Modern studies have shown that fasting increases your Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which aids in memory functioning and can stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
The acute stress caused by fasting also causes the brain to release endorphins, which leads to feelings of well-being and euphoria.
Two popular forms of fasting are: 1) Intermittent Fasting, also known as alternate day fasting. This is where you abstain from food every other day for a period of time. 2) Calorie Restriction: consuming 30-40 percent fewer calories than usual each day for an extended period of time.
Cry me a river
If you want to be as creative as Steve Jobs, start letting your tears flow. Jobs’ authorised biography reveals that he cried incessantly when he was frustrated and didn’t get his way, but also happy tears when he had experiences he described as “purity of spirit.”
Crying reduces stress. Tears remove stress-causing hormones and lowers your manganese levels, which regulates your mood. The emotional release of crying also leads to a mental balance; a sense of calm after the storm.
Rather than suppress the wave of emotions that triggers the tears, let them flow. The catharsis will lead to mental clarity.
Be a dropout
Being a dropout doesn’t mean you despise education, rather, you have a thirst for knowledge that is hindered because your goals don’t align with your institution.
The list of notable dropouts includes Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the youngest female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes. They all reveal three key lessons: 1) being autodidactic (a self-learner); 2) identifying patterns and making successful predictions; 3) making bold decisions.
It’s a big risk to leave any commitment, not only college. Being a successful dropout means you’re constantly training your mind to look for patterns; to see the trajectory of multiple paths, and shifting to the one that aligns most with your goals.
Don’t rush to write it down
JK Rowling’s billion-dollar Harry Potter series came to her as she sat on a train; she was too embarrassed to ask anyone for a pen, so she just let her mind wander for hours. Instead of drawing premature conclusions on her characters, she gave her ideas time to marinate, develop and evolve.
She unknowingly engaged her mind in the creative stage called “incubation.” It’s when your unconscious mind synthesises all the information you encountered through your conscious work.
The mental detachment and “mindless wandering” allows all your knowledge to marinate, leading to the “light-bulb” moment.
Let your ideas set until they jell before taking any major action or make any final decisions.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
20 Quotes On Coping With Change From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders
Change is up to you.
Change is a hard concept to grasp – and can be even harder to cope with it. Whether you’re switching careers, leaving a company or ending a relationship, change comes in all sizes – big and small. And while some change can be exciting, other times it can be difficult.
Having your own approach to change, whether it’s in how you view it or how you handle it, is important in moving forward and being successful.
To learn how others do it, here are 20 quotes about change from today’s most successful leaders and entrepreneurs.
1. Elon Musk
“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” – Elon Musk
2. Oprah Winfrey
“You don’t have to hold yourself hostage to who you used to be.” – Oprah Winfrey
3. Barack Obama
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – Barack Obama
4. Larry Page
“If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.” – Larry Page
5. Steve Jobs
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs
6. Andy Warhol
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol
7. Steve Case
“Revolutions happen in evolutionary ways.” – Steve Case
8. Coco Chanel
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” – Coco Chanel
9. Warren Buffett
“The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” – Warren Buffett
10. Steven Spielberg
“All of us, every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.” – Steven Spielberg
11. Mark Zuckerberg
“Entrepreneurship is about creating change, not just companies.” – Mark Zuckerberg
12. Richard Branson
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.” – Richard Branson
13. Joan Rivers
“Life is very tough. If you don’t laugh, it’s tough.” – Joan Rivers
Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change
14. Lady Gaga
“In order to build strength, you have to usually come from a lot of weakness.” – Lady Gaga
15. Thomas Jefferson
“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson
16. Thomas Edison
“Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” – Thomas Edison
17. Sheryl Sandberg
“I learned that, in the face of a void or in the face of any challenge, you can choose joy and meaning.” – Sheryl Sandberg
18. Tony Robbins
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins
19. Martha Stewart
“The more you adapt, the more interesting you are.” – Martha Stewart
20. Albert Einstein
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
You’re Probably Biased At Work. Here’s How To Stop It
New research looked at hard data to find solutions.
Everyone suffers from bias, despite their best intentions. And that bias can manifest itself in ways we don’t always intend – including how opportunities are and aren’t doled out in the workplace.
Recently, a trio of researchers used sensors to see if they could distinguish any differences in day-to-day behavior between male and female employees. Their goal was to eliminate the type of bias that can occur in self-reported polls about behaviour.
To study this, the researchers looked at a company where women made up just under 40 percent of entry-level employees and 20 percent of employees at the second-highest level of seniority. For four months, 500 male and female employees at this company wore badges with sensors in them that recorded their movement, speech patterns and proximity to one another.
The researchers then monitored who the subjects communicated with and who led conversations. Though the data was anonymous, the research team collected information about a given person’s gender, role and how long they had worked for the company.
Although they approached the investigation with the hypotheses that perhaps the female employees had less access to mentors or did not advocate for themselves with management as much as their male counterparts, the researchers found that this was not the case.
“We found almost no perceptible differences in the behavior of men and women. Women had the same number of contacts as men, they spent as much time with senior leadership and they allocated their time similarly to men in the same role,” the researchers wrote in a summary of their findings in Harvard Business Review.
“We found that men and women had indistinguishable work patterns in the amount of time they spent online, in concentrated work, and in face-to-face conversation. And in performance evaluations men and women received statistically identical scores. This held true for women at each level of seniority. Yet women weren’t advancing and men were.”
They concluded that differences in men and women’s behaviour aren’t what leads to gender inequality in the workplace – entrenched bias is the culprit.
So what can you do in your own company to make sure that bias doesn’t impact your hiring and promoting decisions? The researchers recommend instituting training programmes to reduce bias among management and people in the position to bring on new team members. You also might want to consider making a policy that, for all new open jobs, you interview and recruit people from a variety of backgrounds.
Also, look at the responsibilities your employees have outside the office. Think about ways to make it easier for both women and men to have flexible schedules, especially given that women often have social pressures to take on more family and household obligations.
Finally, determine where the pipeline to managerial and executive positions begins to trend more towards men. Collect data on exactly when these shifts happen in order to identify their specific causes (e.g. higher-ranking positions and their responsibilities require more late nights), then come up with pointed solutions (e.g. flexible morning schedules to accommodate childcare).
From there, measure the effectiveness any solution you implement. (“Since we implemented this policy, have those who have taken advantage of it advanced?”) This way, mitigating inequality is a science, not a guessing game.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com
Better Thinking For A Better World
How to think more critically and strategically in a world filled with complexity and rapid change.
We take the act of thinking for granted. It is often seen as a skill one is born with and not one that should be cultivated over time.
As the world becomes more complex and more busy, strategic and critical thinking becomes more valuable. Strategic thinking points to the ability to decide how and when to deploy resources to achieve a certain end state.
Below are four areas of focus that will improve your strategic thinking:
1. Making Time For Reflection
Life is busy. Juggling work, friends and family, and the recurring notifications from your phone has become quite a feat. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to create space for reflection.
Time spent in solitude allows you to reflect and connect the dots. It temporarily takes you out of a world in which you must be reactive to survive and keep up.
My suggestion is to create a SOS (space of solitude) for at least 30 minutes every day. In this time, reflect on what has been working and what has not been working. Meditate on your goals for the future and plan for the actions that will help you get there.
2. Asking Better Questions
Many of us fall into the trap of sequential problem solving. This happens when leaders or organisations simply move from one challenge to the next and the only question they ask is “how do we overcome this challenge?”.
What about the questions like “how did we arrive here?” or “what assumptions are we making here?” or “what does better look like?”
I am not trying to give you a template of questions to ask. Merely prodding you to go beyond challenging the problem but to also challenge the thinking about the problem.
As we deepen our questions, we elevate our thinking.
Do not simply ask more questions. Ask better questions.
3. Seek More Input
Teams are great and often underutilized. How can you use your team’s knowledge, experience, and opinions in a more constructive way?
Well, how about allowing them sufficient time for reflection in solitude but also as a group. How about prompting them to look for the patterns in their environment? How about, as a leader, asking them questions that allow them to really stretch their cognitive abilities?
Even better, empower them to ask those questions themselves.
Related: Disruptive Thinking: A Winning Edge
4. Thinking rules
We often make the same mistakes over and over. Not because we have not learned the lesson but because the context changes. Or excitement gets the better of us.
During your reflection time (hopefully you have noticed the importance of this by now) you can reflect on your past decisions and figure out how you could have made better decision.
Once you have done this start jotting down a few personal rules that will help guide your decision making in the future. A personal guideline I established was that I will wait 24 hours before making any big purchase. Gadgets and golf gear often get the best of me. But simple rules like these help to guide my decision making and prevents me from making mistakes irrespective of context or emotional state.
What is next?
Starting today schedule a daily SOS. Yes, schedule it. Do not leave it to chance.
Think of it as training for your brain. A space where you get to think. Free of distraction and noise. You will be amazed at the clarity that comes from these sessions and how your productivity and effectiveness soars.
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