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5 Simple Ways to Get Smarter in Life and Business

5 Simple Ways to Get Smarter in Life and Business

Although intelligence means something different to everyone, psychologists and scientists have tried to pin it down to just our IQ, as if a number can be representative of our entire mind. They used to believe that intelligence is entirely inherited. This means you’re either born with or you aren’t, and it can’t be changed or improved upon.

Today, we understand that intelligence is a much more abstract concept. It is not set in stone. It can be influenced by our environment, our mindsets, and our commitment to constantly improve ourselves.

There are two key factors over which we have control if we want to get smarter.

1. The environment we choose.

This is the classic Nature vs Nurture debate.

Nature: our genetic makeup.

Nurture: the environmental factors which influence our development.

Turns out it is not so much Nature vs. Nurture as it is Nature and Nurture, more specifically how they interact. Intelligence is only partially inherited. The full potential of our intelligence is determined by the environment we set it in. This means the people we surround ourselves with, the new challenges we give ourselves, and the shows we choose to watch, are just a few examples of factors that influence our intelligence. Nature and nurture interact together to create intelligence. Even though we can’t (yet) change our genes, we are in control of many factors in your own environment.

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2. The mindset we choose.

What about when things happen in our environment, which we have no control over? It comes down to our mindset.

Current research indicates that the only limit to one’s intelligence is what the individual believes is possible and how their behaviors either foster or limit their intelligence.

What does this mean? 

If you have always been told you are unintelligent by your teachers or your family members you are likely to have set a mental limit for yourself and what you can achieve, thus preventing you from reaching your full potential.

Michael Strasner, personal and professional coach for over thirty years, says our beliefs come from our past experiences and the interpretations we make from those events.

When we make the effort to identify the negative beliefs we have about ourselves and remove them from our thoughts then we are truly free to become anything we want, including more intelligent.

Choose the growth mindset.

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The growth mindset, a concept founded by psychologist Carol Dweck, perfectly describes the qualities which are essential to developing our intelligence.

dweck_mindset

    The qualities are:

    • Embracing challenges
    • Persisting in the face of setbacks
    • Viewing effort as the path to mastery
    • Learning from criticism
    • Finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others

    Ironically, we sometimes need to make mistakes and immerse ourselves in situations where we are in a state of disequilibrium in order to improve our intelligence. Although this may initially feel uncomfortable, it ultimately brings us much further in life than the person who’s main goal it is to appear smart in the eyes of others.

    4 Simple Ways to Get Smarter

    1. Challenge Yourself

    Lev Vygotsky developed the theory of the Zone of Proximal Development during the last ten years of his life. He believed the optimal tasks for developing our cognitive abilities are ones which are too difficult for us to master on our own, but we are able to complete with some assistance from more capable peers.

    As soon as a task becomes effortless for us to complete on our own, it is a sign that we are not challenging ourselves enough and are not encouraging any potential growth in that specific area.

    Are there any areas in your own life where the tasks have stopped requiring your conscious effort? Unless you don’t wish to improve, don’t get too comfortable.

    Intelligence is like a muscle. It can’t become stronger if it is not challenged by heavier weights and exercises.

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    2. Read Smarter

    Reading just about anything will improve your awareness and open your mind to new thoughts and ideas.

    According to an article by Glen Stansberry, “Those that read have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those that don’t.”

    While the concept of reading books to get smarter is not exactly novel (pardon the pun), few of us actually do it.

    The reason is: we’re not reading smart. We can read even more books by increasing our reading speed, using technology like Spritz, and even dropping the books we don’t love.

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      If you haven’t read our article on how to read over 60+ books a year, I highly recommend checking it out.

      3. Hangout With People Who Are Smarter Than You

      Perhaps we aren’t exactly, as Jim Rohn said, “the average of the five people you spend the most time with” but he was definitely heading in the right direction.

      No matter how strong we are, those closest to us can (and will) have an impact on our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.

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      It may feel more comfortable to have friends who aren’t overachievers, because it takes the pressure off of us, but ultimately one of the best ways to become more intelligent and grow as a person is to surround ourselves with intelligent and ambitious people.

      The same goes for when we surround ourselves with people who genuinely believe we are intelligent and capable. They will subconsciously show more respect and enthusiasm towards our abilities and ourselves.

      We register these slight differences in behavior and mirror their high expectations with our excellent results.

      4. Become an Idea Machine

      In James Altucher’s new book, The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, he shares a daily habit of his with fellow readers. Everyday, no matter what, he writes down 10 new ideas.

      It is easier said than done. Altucher says, the more we practice it, the easier it will become for us to think of ideas and solutions during times of conflict, where it is essential to be able to react quickly.

      You might choose to write all of these ideas in one sitting, or you could carry around a small notepad and write down any ideas you have sporadically throughout the day.

      Conclusion

      I genuinely believe everyone is intelligent and capable of enhancing their own intelligence.

      The tips in this article are meant to help you see measurable changes in the way you think, the ideas you have, and the challenges you are able to face in real life. By measurable, I don’t mean an IQ test or your grades in school, but the progress you make towards your goals and the future you desire.

      Over to You

      Which of these tips to get smarter resonates with you? Are there any that you have not been utilizing?

      This was originally posted on Rype’s blog.

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      Last Updated on December 5, 2018

      How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

      How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

      Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

      We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

      How do they do it?

      By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

      1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

      There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

      If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

      2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

      Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

      According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

      Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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      3. Demand Learning from Your Team

      CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

      “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

      His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

      Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

      “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

      Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

      4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

      Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

      Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

      • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
      • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
      • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
      • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
      • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
      • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

      5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

      Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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      Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

      • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
      • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
      • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
      • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
      • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

        “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

      Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

      6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

      The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

      Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

      You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

      7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

      Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

      But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

      On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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      • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
      • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
      • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
      • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

      8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

      Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

      When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

      9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

      The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

      What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

      Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

      10. Empower Your Employees

      Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

      They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

      Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

      You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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      If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

      11. Nurture Your Company Culture

      Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

      Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

      However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

      Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

      Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

      Be a Leader, Not a Boss

      Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

      However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

      In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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