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Practical Ways To Make You Smarter Every Day

Practical Ways To Make You Smarter Every Day

If there is one thing that can make you feel great about yourself, it is without a doubt the sensation you get when you know you are the smartest person in the room. Of course, there is no guarantee that you are actually smarter than everybody else, but when only you can answer a tough question, or solve a puzzle, it make you feel like a star. However, being smart is so much more than puzzle-solving, and having facts galore at your disposal. After all, there are different types of intelligence, and they all tap into the potential of our brain.

Basically, any new skill you acquire, or simply honing an existing skill, learning a new piece of information and even discovering something new about yourself, are all factors that make you smarter in some way. The problem is, you don’t always get a chance to shine, so in the majority of cases we have no idea just how smart someone is.

We can either assume someone is either smart or not-so-smart based on a series of experiences we’ve had with that person. In other words, do not try to be smarter in order to boast, it can easily backfire. You should seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and these following approaches will make that possible.

1. Find a hobby that’s right for you

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    Hobbies are a great form of escapism, and they can improve you and fulfill you at the same time. Therefore, you should devote your time to something that you find both interesting and challenging. There are many hobbies that encourage you to use a lot of brainpower, like playing chess, video games, solving crossword puzzles etc. These can provide amazing brain gymnastics, and even reward you with a sense of achievement. As far as gaining information and insight is concerned, there will be little progress in this department, but these are not the sole determiners of one’s wits.

    2. Practice holistic learning

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      If you want to be a walking encyclopedia, you’ll have to master the art of holistic learning and use it whenever possible. This can come in handy if you are in college and trying to prepare for mid-terms and finals. Basically, holistic learning means you connect any new piece of information with something you already know.

      This means you need to think hard while learning, but, as a result, you get a solid database, which can turn out to be quite useful in the long run. The more you implement holistic learning, the more information you will gain with less and less studying. Your brain starts to turn into Wikipedia, and any topic slowly acquires more and more relevant links to it.

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      There are many techniques that can help you master the art of holistic learning, and an author named Scott H Young did a pretty elaborate piece on the topic.

      3. Let learning be your motivation

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        This is closely connected to the previous statement, however, the difference is that holistic learning is about being efficient at learning, and this is about learning to discipline yourself to crave new information. One thing that hinders our motivation to learn is the grading system. Sure, it was intended to motivate us, but we do not master every subject with ease. As mentioned, there are several types of intelligence, and none of us can excel in each field. Some are better at sports, others at music or math etc. However, a negative grade can be demotivating, and it makes us give up on something we could easily have found interesting.

        This is why I said you should gain knowledge for knowledge’s sake – if you flunked some subjects during your education, give them another shot, as every field of science has a lot to offer. You can check out the YouTube channel CrashCourse, or watch the first season of Cosmos – A Space Time Odyssey or Through the Wormhole. These are all amazing shows, and you will feel a lot better when you start to grasp some concepts that previously seemed too complex.

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        4. Admit when you do not know something

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          Maybe it’s just personal experience, but I feel that, due to peer pressure, we tend to behave like we know something, even though our insight in the matter is rather poor. And it makes no sense – why would someone judge you for not knowing how to do something, or not knowing a certain fact? However, we do feel like we are looked down upon, so we try to act “cool”. As a result, we only risk making a bigger fool of ourselves than we would by simply saying “Sorry, I don’t think I know what you are talking about.”

          If you don’t know something, but want to learn about it, why pretend in the first place? And if you are not interested in the topic, why pretend that you are?

          5. Don’t make reckless decisions

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            Now, you should not be the ultimate prude, and compulsively create scenarios before you make a minor decision. That kind of thinking will eat away at you, and cause a lot of stress. However, there are decisions that we can make on a whim, or in the heat of the moment. There are also things that drastically change the status quo in your life, and even though they are a necessity, you should think long and hard before rushing into these decisions.

            For example people are prone to get into debt in order to create the wedding of their dreams. If the happiest day of your life causes so many issues down the road, then it will only turn into a bad memory. You can always have a decent wedding now, and if you have enough resources some day, you can throw a party to adequately celebrate your marriage. Moreover, decisions to change your job, or entire career can be classified as reckless, so take as much time as you need to dwell on those thoughts before deciding to make the next step.

            6. Make lists

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              If you want to grow into a smarter individual, you need to have your own definition of smart. What kind of skills would you need, what kind of goals do you need to achieve, and what do you need to experience in order to stand out from the crowd. In other words, make lists. The list should contain everything you need to create the perfect version of yourself. It’s not a project that should be completed, rather it’s something you need to continually improve upon.

              7. Read books

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                Finally, the best way to become smarter is to read books on an everyday basis. Even reading an instruction manual makes you smarter, let alone a quality masterpiece. You can do some research on a website called Goodreads, and find a book that is perfectly suited to your needs and sensibilities. It is perfect for both intellectual and spiritual growth, and if you have attention span problems then you can always get an audio version, and follow the text as the voice actor reads the piece. That’s what I do, at least. Books are definitely the whole package when it comes to becoming smarter – you have a good story, you learn something new and, very often, adopt a better perspective on things.

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                Djordje Todorovic

                Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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                Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

                58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

                Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

                “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

                Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

                1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

                The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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                Encourage Your Employees

                When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

                Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

                Offer Rewards

                Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

                The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

                Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

                Give Autonomy

                Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

                Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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                Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

                2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

                I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

                Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

                For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

                We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

                Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

                A To Do Scheduling System

                Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

                The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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                I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

                With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

                Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

                3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

                The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

                “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

                An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

                What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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                Ask If They like What They’re Doing

                If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

                There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

                “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

                The Bottom Line

                Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

                Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

                For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

                Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

                More Resources About Team Management

                Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                Reference

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