25 Ways to Boost Brainpower in a Recession

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How are you riding rough waves or unfair performance reviews – see Forbes – that shout recession at work? Perhaps you’re looking for  opportunities that fit your skills. Keith Hall, commissioner of the US Bureau of Labor Stats, spoke to Boston Globe staff  this week, about the severe recession that left us down 8.4 million jobs. An unprecedented occurrence in US history.

25 Ways to Boost Workplace Brainpower in a Recession

If yours was one of those lost jobs, or if your retirement plan shrunk, severe recession may be too mild a term to describe the chaos you face. Based on newly discovered facts about the human brain’s ability to reorganize itself, however, intelligent individuals are repositioning themselves for a predicted coming upturn of events.

Brain experts would say – they are also developing intrapersonal intelligence as tools to tackle workplace challenges and win.

Consider  brainpowered responses to win during the toughest ride of recession, by rebooting your brain to  join the ranks of high-performance minds:

1. Slap somebody on the back. Notice new ideas, support the smaller parts of innovations. Boredom is more a habit formed in brains, and shaped by choices often made in tough times. Stressed or bored minds, default back to broken routines.

2. Lighten up. Increased light lowers melatonin and increases focus, as healthy settings help people to transform problems and broken pieces into creative designs that work.

3. Trust the differences. People engage one another’s best ideas through generating trust so that differences emerge as dividends.  Pelle Ahlerup, U of Gothenburg showed that countries where people have greater trust in others perform better in a number of areas and have higher growth.

4. Tame the tiger within. When anger, fear, and frustration are fueled by disappointments or disagreements,  innovation is stomped out by cortisol – chemical hormones for fury. To tame your brain’s amygdala is to rewire moods in your favor, freeing you to lead calm solutions under pressure.

5. Affirm speedily but blame sparingly. Venting or blaming derails brainpower needed for solutions. Affirm what’s working and you’ll create new neuron pathways to much more of the same.

6. Do something different – learn something new. Innovation comes from those who shift things up, and test-drive better approaches at work. Dendrite brain cells use the outside world and take shape, or they grow IQ-  based on what you do.

7. Whistle while you work. Research shows growth in people’s focus and attention to excellence through melodies in baroque, for instance.  Music changes brain wave speeds in ways that impact moods and alter productivity.

8. Walk the talk! Implementation is central to success. Lectures and talks that deliver facts, work against listeners’ brains and benefit speakers’ intelligence mostly. Apply it to learn it

9. Stretch but don’t shrink your brain. In contrast to innovators, Hebbian workers rewire their brains to kill incentives, limit focus or even shrink their brains. Recent research described in Dawna Markova’s book, The Open Mind, shows we can become creatures of new habits at work if we are open minded and willing to stretch for new possibilities.

10.  Profit from differences. Too often diversity training works mentally against benefits because of its deficit model approach. Inclusion, on the other hand, leads to innovative differences with mutual benefits and mental prosperity.

11.  Check your speed. Brain waves can bring either sleep or move into peak performance, based on how they activate at work. All four brain wave levels (beta, alpha, theta and delta) serve value to innovative stages.

12.  Hook to the brain. Tie even difficult facts onto one thing you already know and learning increases in less time. Innovative workers engage new knowledge with ease. The frontal region switches the state of the brain between “learn” and “remember modes in a brief period of time (ScienceDaily 2009).

13.  Live outside the box. Multiple approaches abound as people exceed prescribed standards from many unique approaches.  Multiple intelligences are common to all innovators, used by few staunch traditionalists, and develop IQ daily in innovative settings.

14.  Raise IQ daily. Multiple intelligences are common to all innovators, used by few staunch traditionalists, and develop IQ daily in innovative settings. When activated, each intelligence can be located in specific regions of the human brain, (1999) as described by Gardner in Intelligence Reframed. Each intelligence develops with use.

15.  Run from cynicism. While encouragement motivates innovative brainpower, the opposite is also true. Cynical mindsets block creativity, impact talent, and stomp out innovation.

16.  Remember working memory fast forgets. Memory can be outsourced – through creating lists for example –  to help you  remember, and yet free the mind for focus on more collaborative initiatives.

17.  Burn strong, don’t burn out. Plasticity enables people of all ages to rewire the human brain for innovation that keeps brainpower younger, smarter, and alive through interactive learning.

18.  Thank somebody. Encouragement changes chemistry of brain through raised serotonin, criticism tears down through spreading cortisol.

19.  Mean what you mutter. Just as meta messages destroy relationships through implications different from what is said, transparency opens segues to creative contributions at work. People who are openly transparent and vulnerable build trust in both employees and customers.  Trust is a part of the intrapersonal intelligence, and is developed as we build healthy relationships that shape character.

20.  Toss new talents into work. It often takes an integration of  hard and soft skills to solve problems innovatively with the brain in mind. How might being social and being smart go together? “As people engage socially and mentally with others,” finds Oscar Ybarra (2008) “they receive relatively immediate cognitive boosts.”

21.  Adopt tone tools for tough times. Poor tone acts as innovation’s silent killer, and shrinks the brain through stress, good tone cultivates brainpower when you need it most.

22.  Use  names more. Greet a person warmly through speaking that person’s name, for a spike in personal awareness, within the human brain. See ties to innovation in tough times at work? PET scans show a strong cerebral flow change when you hear your name spoken and it plays a positive role as you process “self.”

23.  Teach at same time you learn. You retain 90% more through teaching others at the same time they learn a thing. So wisdom and invention spreads and grows in this way. To learn, apply  and teach a new task, the brain ‘sculpts’ new connections (2010).

24.  Solve something! People create new neuron pathways each time they add an innovative solution to any problem encountered. The opposite is also true, focus on problems leads to more of the same. Your ability to infer and apply new solutions leading to an “aha” relies on the brain’s frontal lobes (2010).

25.  Prize women and men’s differences. Women’s and men’s brains differ biologically and intellectually in ways that few optimize, but ways that jettison innovations forward when valued. Though women have more white matter and men more gray matter, they produce equivalent intellectual performances, a UCI study shows (2005).  Unlike gray matter, which peaks in development in a person’s twenties, the white matter continues to develop, and peaks in middle age (Sowell et al., 2003)

The human brain takes new directions in times of recession, through innovative approaches that boost brainpower for an upturn of events. Ever notice how when predictions of well being swoop – so also do the markets sink? The opposite is also true. Ready for an upturn of events?

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