August 2017

Two Secrets to Become an Einstein
Einstein famously said, “I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious.” Like some of his scientific theories, he may have been right.

Specifically, Einstein had more astrocytes, a type of brain cell that contributes to intelligence.  The good news is that we can build more astrocytes in our own brains.  According to Neuroscientist Dr. Marian Diamond, five factors are crucial for healthy astrocytes: a good diet, exercise, love, challenge, and novelty.  Focusing on these five things can increase your resilience against stress and improve your mental sharpness.

As a leader, you can increase the executive function (working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control), motivation, and cognitive performance of your team members by minimizing routines and increasing opportunities to learn new things and gain mastery.  Here are two ideas to introduce novelty and challenge at work:

1)    Implement Cross-training programs:

Identify job positions that are complementary to other positions, then determine the benefit of having people learn two or more positions.  As an employee at TIAA-CREF, I identified six positions within administration that worked together and set up cross-training for three of those jobs.  This contributed to the job enrichment of the employees not to mention job security and team work.  The company benefited from having a more flexible workforce to handle various workloads, and it improved productivity.  And, now we know it can also make employees smarter!

2)    Assign someone (maybe yourself) to a new project:

Think about the characteristics that you require for project team members. Perhaps you’ll identify someone who doesn’t have experience but does have the aptitude.  For example, we commonly assign people to projects who have the technical expertise, but maybe someone who is an exceptional problem-solver and creative thinker would add tremendous value to the project team. Assigning people to new projects not only makes them smarter but will also broaden your resource pool and contribute diversity, which can strengthen your team.

Like Einstein, be “passionately curious” by learning new things and challenging yourself.  You only grow when you are uncomfortable (click here for an article about this). I’d love to hear a story about what happened when you challenged yourself and learned something new.

At Ready2ACT, we are passionate about learning: check out our affordable, eLearning courses.