How to think clearly and become smarter

How to think clearly and become smarter

There are four kinds of speakers in the business world:

  1. The incoherent, who meander, use tons of jargon, and talk of things interesting mostly to themselves.
  2. The coherent, who can verbally communicate facts and opinions but seldom say anything memorable.
  3. The articulate, who speak succinctly and clearly but whose words are seldom persuasive.
  4. The eloquent, who use language and body language to win the hearts and minds of their listeners.

Eloquent people sound smart, regardless of how intelligent they are. The opposite is true as well. Smart people who are incoherent (like some engineers I’ve known) often come off as if they’re of limited intelligence.

Fortunately, eloquence is a skill that can be taught, practiced, and mastered. Here are nine easily mastered techniques to quickly make yourself more eloquent and smarter sounding.

1. Stand or sit with spine straight but relaxed.

Eloquence is more than just how you use language. It’s also how you use your body language. The position of your back is the foundation of your body language and therefore the root of your eloquence.

Slumping communicates a lack of confidence in yourself and your words. The other extreme, a ramrod straight back, says “fight or flight.” A straight but relaxed spine puts you in a mental and physical state from which words flow smoothly and easily.

2. Keep your chin up.

The position of your head is just as important as the position of your spine, a fact reflected in many common expressions. To “hold your head high,” for example, is to show pride and determination. To be “downcast” means you’re already beaten down.

An upright head is essential for eloquence for physiological reasons as well. A tense neck (inevitable if your head is facing down) tends to strangle your words, preventing you from speaking clearly.

3. Focus on your listeners.

Eloquence is meaningful only if people are listening to you, and they won’t listen if you’re thinking about something else or if your eyes are wandering all over the room. Eloquence without attention is mere speechifying.

Two special cases: Avoid glancing sideways; it makes you seem dishonest (shifty-eyed). If you must check your notes, use your eyes to look downward without nodding your head.

4. Speak loudly enough to be heard.

For maximum eloquence, speak loudly enough so people farthest from you can hear but not so loudly that it’s uncomfortable for those in front.

If you’re unsure of your volume, ask somebody in the back if they can hear you clearly. If they answer yes, say “How about this?” in a voice slightly less loud. If they answer no, crank your voice up a notch.

However, never raise your voice to a yell. Yelling makes you sound insane rather than eloquent. If you find yourself in that position, either ask for a microphone or request that people move closer.

5. Buttress words with appropriate gestures.

Use your hands to emphasize key points. The easy way to learn this skill is to watch how celebrities and popular public speakers use gestures as they speak. Note how their hand movements seem to “emerge” from their words.

If you’re not actively using a gesture, keep your hands still. Fiddling with your glasses, rattling your papers, scratching yourself, and so forth will distract the audience from your message and “cancel out” your eloquence.

6. Strategically position your body.

Add power to your words by moving your body appropriately. For example, if you’re speaking to a group from a stage, you might move from one spot to another to signal that you’re introducing a new idea.

Similarly, when sitting at the conference table, incline forward slightly when you want to emphasize a point. Reorient your sitting position when you move from one subject or concept to another.

7. Use vivid words that everyone understands.

Cliches (especially biz-blab) are the opposite of eloquence. Use unexpected but common words or phrases that illustrate points in a memorable manner. Example: “common as houseflies” rather than “dime a dozen.”

Also avoid words that your audience might not understand. Using fancy words makes you sound snobby, not smart. If you absolutely must introduce a term unfamiliar to the audience, define it in plain language.

8. Speak at different speeds.

Speaking at a single speed quickly turns whatever you’re saying into a monotonous drone. Instead, slow down and speed up depending upon the importance of what you’re communicating at the time.

If you’re summarizing or going over background, speak more quickly than when you’re providing new information. When you’re describing introducing an important concept, slow down to give listeners time to absorb it.

9. Use pauses to create emphasis.

Silence isn’t just golden; it’s also the crowning glory of eloquence. For example, a slight pause before you’re about to say something important create suspense. It leads your audience to “hang on your every word.”

Similarly, a pause after you’ve said something important emphasizes its importance and gives listeners a moment to reflect on its importance. A perfect example of the eloquence that comes with pausing is Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

How to become smarter? Start with useful recommendations on “Motivational tips”!

How to think clearly and become smarter

It’s cool to be genius, it’s nice to be smart, but it sucks to be a dull person, and I can clearly see why!

A narrow-minded person is a bad interlocutor, doesn’t know the names of most prominent historical characters and is usually mocked by the others.

Many people naively think that a person cannot become smart; he/she has to be born this way.

They think that if a person is silly since his/her childhood, he/she doesn’t have a slightest chance to become smarter further in life.

However, such opinion is the craziest delusion that has settled in the minds of narrow-minded bimbos and losers.

A newborn doesn’t have any inborn knowledge, and it’s only up to him/her to choose what kind of life he/she will live. This means that every single person can become smarter at any age.

Thus, if you start thinking how to become smarter, you are definitely moving in the right direction. You will need only two things for achieving your aims:

If you think about increasing your IQ level as soon as possible, you’ve already got a proper motivation. There’s only one little thing to be done: start training your brain!

How to become smarter: useful guideline

1. Take care of your health.

The first and the most important factor for the improvement of your brain functioning is to start taking good care of your health.

If you’re an experienced drug addict and cannot imagine your life without smoking a pot, you can forget about an effective brain functioning.

Why am I saying this?

The thing is that drugs kill all brain cells, which cannot be restored.

The more a person is taking drugs, the dumber he/she becomes.

Even if you like to treat yourself to a glass of beer after work, it will not do you any good!

This is the reason why you should get rid of these bad habits and acquire a few useful ones: buy a gym membership, jog in the park or ride a bicycle.

Any kind of sport will contribute to the improvement of your brain functioning!

2. How to be smarter? Read useful literature!

«A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.»
Roy H. Williams

Keep in mind that you should read only informative and thought-provoking books!

I doubt that you’ll benefit from reading a story about Bella and Edward (from our favorite “Twilight”), but if you read “Les Misérables”, you’ll get a chance to re-evaluate your life, improve your vocabulary and even change yourself and your mental outlook.

Apart from such type of books, you can also read philosophical works. These books will motivate you to improve further!

Give it some thought, and you’ll see that reading useful literature is the first step to becoming smarter!

3. Smart person is always confident in his/her decisions.

Despite the banality of this advice, I can assure you in its effectiveness!

When we make our own important decisions, we consider possible outcomes, analyze different variants and take responsibility for our actions.

Obviously, it is always easier to make somebody else responsible for your decisions and then blame him/her for the failure.

However, do you really think that this will help you to become smarter?

4. You’ll become smarter as soon as you get rid of the Zombie-set!

Most people like watching TV with a bucket of ice-cream, glass of beer or a piece of cake.

However, next time when you get cozy on the sofa in front of the TV-set, keep in mind that this modern wonder has a very negative effect on our subconsciousness!

One famous person has once said that every person is going to believe in whatever he/she hears for a thousand times. Modern television is also based on this theory.

If you have some doubts about that, pay attention to the things which are shown on TV nowadays.

The majority of TV programs are stupid talk-shows telling you how cool it is to be a bimbo with pumped lips and gigantic silicone boobs! Now, take a look around! Every girl is dreaming about such pumped lips and silicone boobs which will be seen from another city!

The actual purpose of such TV shows is to distract the audience from real problems. And this audience is really distracted!

By the way, if you want to get to know useful information every day, you’d better quickly subscribe to my interesting articles emailing! This will be one of the first steps to your self-improvement!

Stop wasting your life, it’s about time to live your life to the fullest and enjoy it!

5. Surround yourself with smart people, and you’ll become one of them!

Think about this for a minute: will you become a smarter person if you hang out with dumb blondes and discuss the latest collection by Vasya Pupkin, facelift and your neighbor’s dog?

I don’t think so!

If you want to become smarter, surround yourself with smart people, learn from them and follow their example!

Don’t give up if you consider yourself to be the idiot among geniuses at first! You’ll not even notice how quickly you’ll become a genius as well!

6. How to become more intelligent: find a unique approach!

Keep in mind that standard decisions and actions affect our brain badly.

That’s why you shouldn’t follow the crowd and let somebody else decide for yourself.

Try to find a unique and non-standard solution to every single task, add some bright colors to your life, and your brain will never bring you down!

However, you should remember that not only books and hanging out with smart people will make you smarter. We become smarter when we widen our outlook.

Start traveling; discover the world around you; always search for the truth and you’ll soon become a smart and interesting person!

How to think clearly and become smarter

According to the latest neuroscience, the human brain uses neurons in the left visual cortex to process written words as whole word units. The brain combines these words and their stored meanings to remember and understand information.

Analytical thinking is the process of remembering words and putting their meanings into context. This process is not simply accessing a mental dictionary. Every time you use words, you re-create their meaning.

The words you habitually use when you’re thinking (and then expressing those thoughts) mold how you see the world. For example, people who habitually think (and speak and write) the word “hate” tend to find an ever-increasing number of things to hate.

This relationship between word usage and perception is hugely important in business. When you train yourself to speak and write using clearly defined words arranged into concise sentences, you’re training your brain to think more clearly.

More important, when you write and speak more clearly, you increase your positive influence on your team. Due to their mirror neurons, they’ll begin to imitate your clarity in their own thought processes. Clarity is contagious.

Conversely, if you habitually use fuzzy, ill-defined words crammed into long and convoluted sentences, you’re training your brain–and the brains of your team members–to think less clearly. Confusion is also contagious.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to hone your word skills:

1. Mentally edit out fuzzy buzzwords.

While most business buzzwords are simply annoying (like saying “utilize” rather than “use”), some are so fuzzy and vague that they automatically lead to confused thinking.

The worst offenders are: alignment, best of breed, client-centric, core competency, crystallize, customer-centric, diversity, empowerment, holistic, leading, leverage, generation, paradigm, robust, seamless, stakeholder, sustainability, and synergy.

Take the term synergy. In physics, synergy describes the creation of a whole that’s greater than the arithmetic sum of its parts. Classic example: combining flour, water, yeast and heat to create a loaf of bread.

In business, though, synergy generally pops up when disparate organizations are combined, as in a merger, acquisition, or corporate restructuring. In business, however, synergy is rare to the point of nonexistence.

“Even when you have a deal that looks lovely on paper,” says Wharton’s Emilie Feldman, “getting cultures to fit together, people to stay on board, merging I.T. systems and back offices: all these things are really hard.”

Rather than ask difficult questions and think things thoroughly through, decision makers unconsciously use the word synergy to make problematic deals seem more palatable, like slathering ketchup over rancid meatloaf.

Mentally editing out the fuzzy, vague buzzwords when you are talking, speaking, listening, or reading gradually clears your mind of the confusion they create, thereby making you smarter.

2. Simplify your business writing.

If you find yourself writing or reading long, complex sentences at work, edit and reedit them so that they express the gist in fewer words. Do this repeatedly and over time you’ll automatically accustom your brain to shorter, clearer wordings.

Here’s how this works. A subscriber to my free weekly newsletter recently sent me this fairly typical example of biz-blab:

Leveraging XYZ technology and compliance expertise can give your business an important competitive advantage. XYZ can help you manage the ‘people side’ of your businesses more effectively, avoiding compliance pitfalls and creating key benefits for the businesses and your employees, while simultaneously freeing up time for owners and executives to concentrate on growing their businesses by focusing on operations, strategy, and innovation.

While that paragraph is grammatically correct, it’s using a lot of words to waltz around a fairly simple concept. I’m sure that if you read it carefully, you know what they’re getting at, but it can be worded with much more economy, like so:

XYZ handles your personnel busywork so that you can spend more time growing your business.

Simplifying biz-blab to the fewest number of words doesn’t just make your writing crisper, it also habituates your mind to seek the simple essence of needlessly complex concepts. The more often you practice this clarification process, the smarter you get.

3. Play the “one syllable” game.

This exercise trains your brain to use smaller, easier-to-understand words rather than complex ones. The concept is simple: Try to communicate business ideas using words of only one syllable.

For example, if I were trying to communicate the rules of the game using those rules, I’d write: “The point of the game is to talk and write with words that are so short that they can not be split.”

While this kind of writing and speaking doesn’t result in anything you’d actually use in a business discussion, the mental effort of oversimplifying accustoms your brain to reach for the small words rather than the overly complex ones.

Since complex words tend to “complexify” your thoughts (and your expression of them), habitually using common words leads toward clearer thinking.

One thing that is absolutely fundamental to clear thinking is to understand the nature of truth.

Most people intuitively understand what truth is, most of the time, but get all confused about it when it comes to issues of morality and religion.

But the nature of truth doesn’t change. True is true, no matter what you are talking about.

So it’s important to get a good understanding of what truth is if you want to train your mind to think clearly and logically.

Also, I mentioned in the last post that a good education should train a person to think well and properly. But what does that entail? What does it mean to think “well and properly”?

When you think about it, ther are a number of important “all purpose” skills of the mind that can help here, skills like:

  • How to organize one’s thoughts
  • How to make important distinctions and valid inferences
  • How to formulate and defend positions with well thought out arguments
  • How to stand up for your beliefs by being able to give coherent reasons for your position
  • How to critically evaluate and challenge opposing viewpoints
  • How to judge and weigh evidence
  • How to distinguish the true from the false
  • How to determine what is more or less probable
  • How to ask intelligent questions and give intelligent answers
  • How to evaluate arguments for consistency or inconsistency

Now all of the above are important for thinking properly. And the good news is… WE LEARN ALL OF THESE THROUGH THE STUDY OF LOGIC!

So I hope you can see that logic is a general “all purpose” subject with deep and far reaching implications. This is why St. Thomas Aquinas called logic “the art of arts”. In other words, logic is the mother of all subjects! This is because in logic we study the very act of thinking and reasoning itself, which in turn helps guide our thinking in all other subjects!

No matter what one’s profession is – everybody has to think! And that’s why the study of logic is so important.

Many people believe that intelligence is a fixed trait. But, research has shown that there are things you can do to help boost your IQ. Also, strategies that claim to increase intelligence are a waste of your time. Here, you’ll discover some science-backed methods to enhance your brainpower and learn which methods you should skip.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

The most important thing you can do if you want to become smarter is to believe that you can. A growth mindset is the belief that your brain is like a muscle and grows stronger with use. A fixed mindset is the belief that your intelligence is something you’re born with, and you can’t do much to change it.

In a 2019 study, students who were taught growth mindset principles went on to enroll in more advanced math classes and achieved higher grades in those classes. Low-achieving students showed the most improvement.

Students with peers who supported the ideas behind a growth mindset also showed greater improvement. Surrounding yourself with people who believe you can become smarter will make it easier for you to achieve your goals.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

You already know you should be eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep to keep your body healthy. But, the same things that benefit your body benefit your mind.

Eating a healthy diet. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains isn’t just good for your heart and your waistline. The same foods that make you healthier can protect your brain from losing function as you age. Make sure your diet includes:

Getting enough sleep. A study on elementary-school students found that people who slept for less than 8 hours per night scored lower on tests of verbal intelligence, full-scale IQ, verbal comprehension, memory, and attention than those who slept for at least 8 hours. Even moderate sleep deprivation can affect your ability to learn.

Exercising. Just like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise can give you a healthy body and brain. Exercise reduces your insulin resistance, and this reduces the inflammation in your body and causes your body to produce more growth factors. These are chemicals in your brain that affect the growth of new blood vessels in your brain. They affect how many brain cells you have and how many new brain cells you can have.

The areas of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in people who exercise than in people who don’t. Regular exercise also improves your mood and your sleep, which can have a positive effect on your intelligence.

But, you don’t have to run a marathon to see brain growth. In one study, people who walked as little as 120 minutes (2 hours) per week saw improvement.

Learn Something New

While learning almost anything new can make you smarter, there are a few subjects that are especially beneficial for developing your brainpower.

Learning a second language. Learning a second language protects your brain from some of the negative effects of aging. It can also increase your reading ability, verbal skills, and general intelligence. This is true even if you learned a second language as a child or an adult.

Learning to play an instrument. Taking up music lessons requires your brain to multitask. This can increase the connections in your brain and increase your verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills.

Reading a book.Reading is a great way to learn a new subject or skill. The benefits of reading aren’t limited to nonfiction, though. Even spending time reading the latest thriller can make you smarter. The act of reading builds your vocabulary and brain structures. Reading for just over 20 minutes a day will expose you to over 1.8 million words per year.

Feel Free to Skip Brain Training

One thing that won’t make you smarter is playing games that promise to make you smarter. Developers of brain training games would like for you to believe that by playing a game on your phone for a few minutes a day you can increase your intelligence.

Unfortunately, the research doesn’t support that. If you play brain training games, you’ll get better at brain training games. The effect doesn’t carry over to other tasks.

Sources

American Educator: “What reading does for the mind.”

Annals of Neurology: “Does bilingualism influence cognitive aging?”

Cambridge Brain Sciences: “Brain Training Only Makes You Better at Brain Training.”

Frontiers in Psychology: “Musical training as an alternative and effective method for neuro-education and neuro-rehabilitation.”

Harvard Health Letter: “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Foods linked to better brainpower.”

National Library of Medicine: “[Effects of sleep deprivation on the intelligence structure of school-age children in Changsha, China].”

Nature: “A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement.”

How to think clearly and become smarter

Valerie Pierce, Associate Faculty at Ashridge Executive Education, provides some solutions to challenge this outward blame culture and provides advice for developing clear focus.

Here are five steps to developing much needed focus by building up essential clear thinking skills:

Check Your Attitude
It is incredible how our focus follows our desires. To illustrate this, notice how easy it is to think of lots of ways and new ideas to achieve a goal when you really want it. Conversely, if you do not want to achieve a goal, notice how you focus on all of the reasons why it is not a good idea to forge ahead. To attain clear Focus – try to be honest about your desire to achieve a particular goal – Do you really want it? This may save you a lot of time at the very beginning or your pursuits.

Have a Clear Purpose
To achieve our goals we must be specific. The reason for this is that it is impossible to think towards a moving target. If we keep changing our goal, then we are also demanding of our brain to continually change its focus and so can lose our direction. To keep your focus, sit down for five minutes and write down, as clearly as you can, what you want to achieve.

Use Your Passion to control your Emotions
There is a simple reason why this is so: As you strive for your goal, Your Passion overcomes problems as it focuses on the pleasure of achieving the perfect goal. Your Emotions, however, can be overwhelmed by problems as they feel the pain to the Ego of a potential loss of the goal.

To keep your focus, clearly look ahead to achieve what you want: use your Passion to control your emotions.

Use your Negative Thinking to produce Positive Action
One of the most valuable assets we have is our Negative Thinking – for far from negative thinking leading to negativity, negative thinking is the stimulus that can free our imagination to achieve exactly what we want.

Using the phrase ‘Why not = How to’ you can stimulate your imagination to focus your negative thinking into positive action.For example, Anna, a member of a large corporation in the UK told me how she was able to progress her career on a global level, by using this technique.

She looked at the reasons why she could not progress in her career – the ‘Why nots’. They were:

    • She lacked experience and contacts for her new career path· She did not have a visa to work in the USA where she needed to be to progress her career
    • She was lonely to leave her family and friends

    And by using these negatives as a signpost, instead of a blocker to her career progression, she was able to turn these ‘why-nots’ into a ‘how to’ plan to achieve her goal:

      • Anna sought out colleagues and mentors who could help her to gain the experience and knowledge that allowed her to progress.
      • Amongst these contacts Anna found a sponsor who helped her to gain a short term contract in a similar corporation in New York. This short term contract became the springboard to finding a permanent position.
      • This was the easiest to overcome, as Anna kept in constant contact with family and friends through electronic and social media – and she made some fantastic new friends Stateside.

      So remember, your negative thinking is the intelligence that allows you to focus on achieving your goals if you can use it in a positive way.

      Use Cool Logic in Hot Situations to reach your Goal
      This last skill is most important to retaining focus, for so many of us can begin with clear focus on our goals, but then be diverted by ourselves or others to lose that clear direction.

      The golden mantra to retain clear direction to achieve what you want is to ‘focus on the issue, not the ego’ – and learn to see the difference in all conversations you have.

      What this means is that in every conversation, either within yourself or with others, make sure that you are concentrating on the issue you are trying to achieve, only. Do not let the conversation focus on the egos involved. For example, if you find your focus is more on your ability or the ability of others to achieve your project or goal, you may find yourselves becoming defensive and egos becoming more important than the issue at hand.

      Using ‘Cool Logic in Hot Situations’ means that you direct all conversations to progress the goal you want to reach in an objective and purposeful way.

      Being aware of these five simple steps will switch your personal psychology to achieving what you want.

      If you would like to find out more about Hult’s global business programs, download a brochure here.

      Valerie is the Author of the book ‘FOCUS: The Art of Clear Thinking’ (2014) and has been named as one of Ireland’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Business (Sunday Tribune). With her background in analytical philosophy, she developed the first ‘Clear and Critical Thinking’ business training module in 1990. CCT training focuses on developing competent thinking skills in all aspects of leadership, communication, problem solving and decision making.

      Step up your game with executive education at Ashridge agile business school. To find out more, take a look at our blog My journey – From medical doctor to Executive MBA, or firm up your exec career footing with a Masters in International Business from Hult. Download a brochure or get in touch today to find out how Hult can help you learn everything about the business world, the future, and yourself.

      Intuitive knowledge to help you create powerful new mental models

      Posted April 6, 2016

      How objective are you? How often are you over-reacting to situations, taking things personally, perceiving tone in e-mail or judging people unfairly? We all do this at some time or another.

      The challenge for many of us is that when we are under a lot of pressure, we tend to be less objective. Under stress, most of us draw solely on our past experiences, old assumptions and biases, which cloud our ability to see things clearly and make sound judgments. Moreover, our desire to succeed is often so strong, that, under these intense circumstances, our insecurities and our limiting and unproductive mental models tend to get in our way, creating even more stress and causing us to react in ways that we may regret.

      Our ability to be objective depends on our willingness to question our mental models, the lens through which we perceive, interpret and respond to our world. If our mental models are incorrect, then our understanding of what is going on and our response to it, are often incorrect. This is why we sometimes misjudge situations, over-react and take things personally.

      The good news is that with the brains neuroplasticity and with practice, we can interrupt our automatic reactions, those often driven my limiting and unproductive mental models, and choose a different response. Each time we do this, we are re-wiring our neural network by creating new pathways based on new models: new ways of perceiving and responding to our world. We can actually learn to think smarter!

      One of the most powerful mental model transformation catalysts is knowledge, new information or logic that defies old mental models and ways of thinking. As we have seen, mental models are deep-rooted beliefs, ideas, and notions that we tend to hold onto, no matter what. They define our sense of reality and drive our perception, interpretation, and response to everything we experience. Mental models predispose us to very specific ways of thinking and acting. They’ve usually been with us a while, so we tend to trust them, in some cases justifiably. For most of us, we have never been taught about mental models and how to evaluate them to determine if they are helpful or harmful.

      To transform unproductive mental models, you must change your mind! I cannot tell you that your Perfectionist mental model does not serve you well. You have to decide, through your own logic and reason, whether your way of seeing the world is no longer valid for you. This requires that you be open to new knowledge, information, and reasoning. It is in the wake of this new knowledge that transformation takes place. Mark Jung-Beeman of Northwestern University’s Institute for Neuroscience and others call it a “moment of insight” and have used MRI and EEG technologies to study how they happen. The findings suggest that at a moment of insight, an adrenaline-like chemical is released and a complex set of new connections is created in the brain. It’s these new connections that have the potential to enhance our mental resources to help us transform limiting mental models.

      To help facilitate a moment of insight, there are four Principles of Objectivity that have been very effective in transforming old mental models. These are insights that we all intuitively understand and that can be verified through our own personal experience, and yet we tend to take them for granted or discount altogether. The next few blogs will review each of the four Principles of Objectivity. The first one is:

      Principle Of Objectivity #1 – There Will Always Be Situations That We Don’t Like

      How to think clearly and become smarter

      We all know that what can go wrong, will go wrong. But often when things happen that we don’t expect or anticipate, we start the mini-movie titled, “Why me, this always happens to me.” We start playing back memories of all the things that have gone wrong lately. Some of us react by disowning the problem or, worse yet, engaging in wishful thinking, willing the problem to go away on its own. Of course, in most cases, it won’t.

      In order to effectively handle day-to-day problems, the first step is to accept that they exist. Acceptance of “what is” is a precondition to right action. Non-acceptance is an ideal condition for an emotional, subjective reaction, and we have already learned how that can end. Furthermore, non-acceptance does not alter the fact that there is a problem. It just creates a chain of further emotional reactions that make the problem worse. If you are objective in your perception of a situation, you can then respond to it appropriately. The key is to accept a problem as it occurs and not take it personally.

      Case #1 – Mary, a career woman in her mid-30’s who works for an investment banking firm shares:

      By keeping this principle in the forefront of my mind, along with a deep breath in and out, I will be more flexible in the moment. I like having a plan, and I currently get irritated when deviations from the plan arise. Rather than spending valuable time complaining and irritating those around me, if I can recall this principle, I can more easily adapt to what is now in front of me. In addition to being more adaptable, it will allow me to be more easy-going, both in work and in my personal life.

      Case #2 – Josh, a 30-year-old serial entrepreneur describes it like this:

      The principle definitely changed my mental model of myself and the world around me. It made me happier in life to realize that being content with what happens to me is a matter of how I choose to perceive it. No one is out there to ‘get me’ and no one is responsible for my state of mind. Only I can change my state of mind, and how I react to events. I look at events at their face value, just as events that happen. Some are good and some are bad, but how I turn a bad thing around is up to me.

      Can remembering Principle Of Objectivity #1: There Will Always Be Situations That We Don’t Like help you be more objective? If so how?

      In my next blog I will review Principle of Objectivity #2: People are Fundamentally The Same but Are Unique. Can you imagine how this might help you be more objective about people?

      Excerpt from: The Objective Leader: How to Leverage the Power of Seeing Things As They Are.

      If you Google “books that make you smarter,” you’ll come up with over 91.000.000 search results. This isn’t a fluke: reading has always been believed to enrich the mind, and in the past several decades, multiple studies have backed up this belief. But there isn’t only one way to become “smarter.” On the contrary, there are three acknowledged types of intelligence: fluid, crystallized, and emotional. In this article you will find a list of books to help you stimulate and exercise all three.

      Firstly, however, let’s do a quick recap of the theories behind books that make you smarter. Fluid intelligence is the ability to think abstractly, to establish relationships between separate concepts, to reason and learn new things. Crystallized intelligence involves the compilation of knowledge acquired throughout your life, and the ability to solve problems based on such knowledge. Finally, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions.

      On to the list of books that make you smarter.

      How to think clearly and become smarter1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

      This 2011 bestseller by Nobel Laureate Kahneman is an intriguing account of the way the human brain works, with its two main manners of thinking and coming to decisions: namely, fast and slow. How do they differ? Is one of them better? Kahneman seeks to explore this, and more.

      2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

      A deeply compelling exploration of human history, Harari’s work delves into the evolution of the human species, from the time that Homo Sapiens shared the earth with others, to the contemporary human, and beyond. It tracks the three great revolutions that altered the course of humankind, and the way our brains and cultures developed and expanded.

      3. Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better BrainHow to think clearly and become smarter by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima

      This short book undertakes to stimulate your brain in order to prevent its aging and loss of capabilities. It consists in a series of spreadsheets with daily exercises to boost your brainpower. A bestseller in Japan, it’s a practical and engaging way to stimulate your mind.

      4. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

      This wildly popular book can boast of divulging complex scientific topics in an intelligible, accessible manner. Bryson wrote it in order to make science interesting for himself as well as the everyday reader. With a rating of 4.2 stars on Goodreads, it’s fair to say that he succeeded.

      How to think clearly and become smarter5. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

      It is a heart-wrenching yet inspiring account of the power of learning and reading, as well as an exploration of the ways in which slavery was denigrating for slaves and slaveowners alike (this doesn’t negate the responsibility or evil of the latter).

      6. The Holy Bible

      It contains the most important document(s) of both Judaism and Christianity, and has been wielded as a weapon throughout most of its history. Depending on whose hands it has fallen in, it has been both a blessing and curse. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s an interesting account of two of the most prominent religions in the world.

      How to think clearly and become smarter7. The Quran

      If reading the Bible is important, the Quran is equally so. Islam has been subjected to incredibly gross attacks for years, and its cornerstone text provides a deeper understanding of another of the most followed – and persecuted – religions of our time.

      8. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin

      Morin’s book offers practical, actionable advice to stimulate emotional intelligence. She draws from her experience as a licensed clinical social worker, and her own journey through devastating loss, to sketch a map of qualities that help build emotional resilience.

      How to think clearly and become smarter9. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

      Hawking wrote this definitive account of cosmology for the non-scientist who wished to know more about this fascinating science. Updated throughout the years, A Brief History of Time remains unsurpassed as an introduction to the topic.

      10. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay

      In the era of #MeToo, this anthology of essays chronicles the gaslighting permeating our world, that allows rape culture to thrive. Sexual assault and harassment are routinely dismissed as “not that bad”, making it harder for survivors to acknowledge or speak out about the abuse they are victims of.

      Of course, this list of books that make you smarter is incredibly limited. Nearly any book will help expand your vocabulary, broaden your horizons, and acquire knowledge of some kind – even if that’s simply “I can’t believe I wasted money and time on this”, in which case you know not to do it again. But this is a good starting point if you want to stimulate your mind and stretch your intellectual boundaries.

      No skill is more valuable and harder to come by than the ability to critically think through problems. Schools don’t teach you a method of thinking. Thinking is one of those things that can be learned but can’t be taught.

      When it comes to thinking the mind has an optimal way to be operated. When operated correctly you’ll find yourself with plenty of free time. When operated incorrectly, most of your time will be consumed correcting mistakes.

      Good decisions create time, bad ones consume it. Good initial decisions pay dividends for years, allowing abundant free time and low stress. Poor decisions, on the other hand, consume time, increase anxiety, and drain us of energy.

      But how can we learn how to think?

      For the answer we turn to Solitude and Leadership, a lecture given by William Deresiewicz. The entire essay is worth reading (and re-reading).

      Learning How To Think

      Let’s start with how you don’t learn to think. A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

      One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

      Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

      I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

      I used to have students who bragged to me about how fast they wrote their papers. I would tell them that the great German novelist Thomas Mann said that a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. The best writers write much more slowly than everyone else, and the better they are, the slower they write. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, the greatest novel of the 20th century, at the rate of about a hundred words a day—half the length of the selection I read you earlier from Heart of Darkness—for seven years. T. S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets our country has ever produced, wrote about 150 pages of poetry over the course of his entire 25-year career. That’s half a page a month. So it is with any other form of thought. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.

      Improving Thinking

      The best way to improve your ability to think is to actually spend time thinking.

      Your decisions do the talking for your thinking.

      You can’t simply take a few minutes here and there, get the gist of the problem, and expect to make good decisions.

      “It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise”

      — William Deresiewicz

      One heuristic to tell how good someone is at making decisions is by how much time they have. The busiest people are often the ones who make the worst decisions. Busy people spend a lot of time correcting poor decisions. And because they’re so busy correcting past decisions, they don’t have time to make good decisions.

      Good decision makers understand a simple truth: you can’t make good decisions without good thinking and good thinking requires time.

      Good decisions make the future easier, giving you more time and less stress.

      If you want to think better, schedule time to think and hone your understanding of the problem.

      Every one of us aims for success. Whether we admit it or not, we want it. The people you admire and seem to have all figured out aren’t any smarter than you. So, what really goes on behind the scenes to become a successful person?

      The truth is, everything comes down to the daily practices you cultivate that make your success ‘inevitable.’ The habits you develop today can pave your way to the success you dream of.

      Entrepreneurs, executives, and any self-made millionaires, aside from random luck, cultivate certain habits to grow and achieve their goals. Learning the top 10 habits of successful people and how to employ them in your life can be highly rewarding.

      How is Success Defined?

      What is success? Is it wealth, happiness, or fame? Merriam-Webster defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect or fame.” But, in reality, it’s more than that, and the outcome changes for everyone.

      Success can mean different things to different people. For some, success may mean achieving financial prosperity, while others value accolades or trophies. Even simply achieving a state of health, wellness, or happiness can be the success of their life.

      In his book Born to Win!, the late Zig Ziglar argues that success cannot be defined in a single sentence but consists of many things.

      The famous inventor and businessman Thomas Edison define success as “Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

      For Richard Branson, “true success should be measured by how happy you are” and not how much money you make or the people you associate with.

      Whatever it might mean for you, these ten habits of successful people can dramatically change your lifestyle. They apply to any area, and if persistently applied, you can accomplish any life goals easily.

      Success Strategies for Personal Development

      Achieving any life goal starts by developing a rigorous routine, building your skills and qualities to reach your potential. Maximising your personal development is imperative for your success and satisfaction in life.

      Life is full of challenges, and how you react to these challenges makes all the difference. Whether you’re trying to succeed at college, home, or work, you will find challenging situations where you need to adapt. Though it might not be easy, you need to ensure that you’re equipped to handle and grow from any situation through personal development.

      One would ask, what is personal development? Simply, it’s a continuous process of self-improvement. Personal development is a lifelong process. It is a method for people to assess their skills and qualities, examine their life aims, and set achievable goals. That way, they stay in control of realising their dreams by using their maximum potential.

      Abraham Maslow suggests that personal development occurs through a process of self-actualisation. Every person needs to see themselves as competent and autonomous. He further argues that every person has limitless room for growth.

      Self-actualisation means “to become everything that you’re capable of becoming,” a sense of fulfilment. And that can only be achieved by being in touch with your feelings, experiencing life with full concentration.

      Once you identify your weaknesses and challenges you want to improve, follow the following list of tangible and clear personal development strategies.

      1. Set goals
      2. Write everything down
      3. Do what works for you
      4. Start with sizeable targets
      5. Go at your own pace
      6. Improve skills every day
      7. Have a winners’ mindset
      8. Learn from failure
      9. Dedicate time to one thing at a time
      10. Prioritise and measure your achievements

      Some Habits

      Tom Corley surveyed 233 self-made millionaires and successful people on their daily habits. And compared the responses with 128 low-earning individuals in his best-selling book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.” He explains wealthy people have habits that set them up for success.

      Rise & Shine Early

      One of the best habits of any successful person is that they get out of bed early. It gives a sense of fulfilment and confidence to plan and accomplish their daily tasks easily. According to Corley, almost 50% of successful people got out of bed at least three hours before their workday started.

      Exercise & Diet

      Entrepreneurs and self-starters require more than just mental fitness. Their physical fitness is a priority. They mostly have a daily workout regime that involves full-body workouts such as running to clear the mind while challenging themselves physically. A strong body holds up a strong mind.

      Sleep

      It is not just about waking up early. Having enough sleep is an essential part of life. It sharpens and recharges your brain to tackle any task throughout the day. Similarly, sleep is not just about hours. The quality of sleep also matters. So, a proper schedule makes you feel well-rested and prepared for the day ahead.

      Social Environment

      Environment influences you, either a force for good helping you achieve your goals or taking away your dreams and ambitions to the grave. Successful people realise the importance of their social environment. From the people around them to the space they work and live in, to what they watch, read, and consume on social media.

      As the famous saying goes, “You are the average of the five people you associate with most.” Therefore, people with ambitions tend to surround themselves with motivated and ambitious people who strive for success.

      Focus

      In his success book, Corley says that many self-made millionaires tend to think in isolation to process everything that’s going on in their lives at times in the morning. Successful people not only have goals, but they also reflect on their progress, health, and relationships at all times.

      Analysing their thoughts during these quiet times is associated with stress reduction and will help focus on the main goals in this distracted world.

      Work/Life Balance

      Having a balance in life is necessary for health and relationships as it improves productivity and performance beyond one’s imaginations. Successful people don’t view work as a chore. They work harder to achieve their goals by loving what they’re doing.

      Overworking puts you at the risk of jeopardising not just your social life but also putting your physical and mental health in danger. Finding the balance between work and home increases engagement levels improves performance, and in turn, achieves goals easily.

      Success isn’t a familial trait or dependent on the good fortune of a person. Everyone, and literally everyone, can achieve and climb the ladder of success by adopting the right behaviours. So, start practising these successful people’s habits and take your first step towards a successful life.