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No Results Even Though You’ve Been Working Hard? You Need These 6 Tips.

No Results Even Though You’ve Been Working Hard? You Need These 6 Tips.

You think you have been working hard without results?  Try “The Marshmallow Challenge.”  The Marshmallow Challenge is a design exercise.  In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

The Marshmallow Challenge takes place at corporate retreats all over the country. The teams are usually made up of four people and they jockey for power or to avoid power in the group, plan and then build their marshmallow tower. At about sixteen minutes they panic, put the marshmallow on top and the tower falls over. Why? Why did they get no results even though they worked hard?

Tom Wujec at Autodesk talks about who has been successful at The Marshmallow Challenge and what groups have not been so successful.  Recent business school graduates have the least amount of success. Recent Kindergarten graduates are one of the most successful groups.

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Here are some reasons why the Kindergarten graduates show results for their hard work. If you follow these advices, you will soon see results from your hard work.

1. Take naps.

Regular rest is the key to showing results. When a person is tired and stressed their mind is not at its best and the effective ideas are not flowing.

2. Prototype.

When Tom Wujec ran The Marshmallow Challenge with most adult groups they built the entire structure before putting the marshmallow on top. They usually placed the marshmallow on top at the two minute warning and then the structure collapsed, and there was not enough time to fix it or create a new plan.

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When the Kindergarten kids built their towers they would build one within the first few minutes and put on the marshmallow. The tower would collapse. Then they would build a different tower. It would collapse. Then another tower and this one would stand. The Kindergarten kids put the marshmallow on top throughout the eighteen minutes, building prototypes until they found a tower that worked.

3. Revise your plan.

The building of prototypes allowed the Kindergarten kids to see what would and wouldn’t work so they could revise their plan. The adult groups didn’t allow themselves enough time to revise their plans.

4. Be patient.

Eighteen minutes is not a lot of time, but it is enough to build a marshmallow tower. I had a very successful sales manager once say to a very successful sales person I know that most sales people stop calling on a prospect too soon. They underestimate the time it takes to build trust. You have to repeat something seven to fifteen times before someone remembers the message you are sending.

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5. Focus on the marshmallow.

The key piece is the marshmallow, not the tower. Have a specific written out goal you are trying to achieve. How can you produce results if you don’t clearly know what you are trying to achieve.

6. Believe in the tower.

You have to trust your tower, after prototypes and a plan, can hold the marshmallow. Successful business people have to believe in their product. If you sell the product you have to believe it is good for your customers. If you manufacture the product you have to believe it serves a purpose. You can be the best salesperson in the world and if you don’t believe in what you are selling you will never be successful long term.

There is an old poster I used to see in people’s offices at work and at my dentist office that read, “Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. Maybe that poster is closer to the truth than I realized when I first saw it.

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Featured photo credit: http://photopin.com/ via Michelin

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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