• Nancy

Get Smart: Strategies to increase your intelligence



I have often been intrigued by the rubrics cube challenge. I would try many times to get the block of colored squares sorted with each side a single color only to abandon the effort in frustration. Then, one day I met someone who knew the secret. He arranged the colored squares in a matter of minutes. It was not that he was smarter than me. He was able to perform the task because he had a better strategy than I had.

While there are some who are quicker or better equipped than others for certain tasks, it is less about native intelligence and more about technique. Becoming smarter requires developing good learning strategies. Learn how smart people learn, do what they do, and then you will be smarter, too. Good spellers, for example, are not necessarily smarter than someone else. They just have a better strategy for memorizing words and accessing them on command. To remember how to spell a word, good spellers take a picture of the word in their minds and then blow it up. When it is time to spell something, they recall the picture and literally see the word in front of them. The smarts is in the strategy. There are all kinds of strategies for learning. By applying the strategy, one can improve their results.

These strategies work because they challenge our neurology in new ways. All humans share the same basic neurological structure. Neuro-plasticity is about taking that native neurology and directing it toward a desired result. We develop new cortical pathways when challenged to achieve. The challenge is literally like carving a new path through a forest of neurons. When we have an "ah-ha" moment, we have made a new connection in our brains. The pathway to that connection, if used often, will stay clear. If we do not use it, the pathway will get overgrown again. Anyone who took a language course in High School and now only remembers how to say "how much is it?" and "where is the bathroom?" has experienced this phenomenon of losing a previously carved path.

Learning new strategies can be quick and easy. Applying the strategy happens through time. We need to challenge our thinking on a regular basis.

I would like to add that, in order to be smart, protect your brain, both physically and chemically. Having made the continuing care or end-of-life decisions for six relatives, I can tell you that, without our brains, we are sunk. Of course, you want to protect yourself from a severe knock on the head, but that is not really enough. Anything you would do for heart health is also good advice for brain health. Cardiovascular activity, mindful eating, lots of water, and plenty of rest are good for your mind.

Alcohol and drug consumption are potential problems. Many people radically change their brain chemistry for recreational purposes. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, the long range ramifications can be costly. I have buried four alcoholics, so I know. Take some time to consider what your life will be like if you keep on the path of messing with your cerebral chemistry. Some people pass the point of no return and wish they could get back what they have lost, but it is too late. If you need convincing, volunteer some time at a memory care resource unit, otherwise known as a dementia ward. Your brain is worth protecting.

Brain chemistry is also impacted by the thoughts we allow to flood our minds and the emotions that well up inside of us. It is possible for fear, anger and bitterness to flood your brain with neuro-inhibiters that stump your ability to think clearly. Realize that those emotions are really under your control. Learn to harness them and drive yourself toward a goal instead of wallowing in worthless emotions. It's not about being fake. It's about authentically guarding the door to your mind.

This is where good coaching comes in handy. We all have emotional blind spots, places where we cannot see our own choices in limiting beliefs and poor behavior. A well-trained professional coach, counselor, or mentor can save you years of wasted time and money. In one of my first meetings with my mentor, Dr. Richard Bandler, he noticed holes in my

strategies and provided expert guidance toward better ways of thinking. His well-placed intervention and advise kept me from making costly mistakes. Often times, to be smart, we need to rely on the smarts of someone who is further down the road.

For more information on learning strategies and coaching opportunities, please contact me at: info@NancyCramer.com


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