This is the second of a three-part series regarding performance.  If you missed the first part Performance – Physical, click here to take you to the post.  This post is about improving cognitive performance.

That’s What I Thought

The actions discussed in the “Physical” performance post contribute significantly to boosting cognitive performance.  Treat your mind as a muscle that can atrophy if not exercised.  In the military, we used a term called Mental Gym to exercise thought in highly intense and stressful environments.  For example to quickly calculate torpedo firing solutions while tracking enemy submarines or calculating the “Closest Point of Approach” while tracking ships in the open ocean to avoid a collision.   

Let’s look at some exercises to sharpen those cognitive skills:   

  1. Learn Something New –  Be an eager student and experience a new skill or culture.  Immerse yourself into something different that opens new worlds and perspectives of thought.  These mental gymnastics will benefit you in many areas of your life.  By openly embracing new perspectives you will drive a curiousness and hunger for a deeper understanding.  Ultimately it will become more natural to be open for an understanding of your teammate’s personal experiences as they apply to develop well thought out solutions for projects.
  2. Actively Read – Read something instructive and share it with a friend.  Discussing what you have learned or interpreted with your friends and/or teammates is healthy for memory retention and relationship building.  Share what you envisioned happening in the readings as it relates to your life experiences.  These conversations are powerful and build lifelong bonds.  Review the books recommended in the Linchpin post.  Suggest some of your own.
  3. Solve Puzzles – Switch and try different types of puzzles not just the same ones you are comfortable with and have become easy to solve.  Select different types of puzzles and force new memories and ways of thinking.  These will again be very useful as you are being open to understanding your teammates’ reasoning during project planning.
  4. Pursue a Hobby – This is more than just attending a ball game or concert.  To be effective the hobby must require thought and learning new skills I.e. gardening, woodworking, raising animals, etc.
  5. Volunteer for Community Service – Selfless devotion to a cause that is solely for the benefit of strangers is an amazing and healthy cognitive exercise.  Do not underestimate the power associated with this experience.  Open your eyes to the world around you and humbly serve others.

A common theme: Learning new things builds connections between neurons and strengthens the mind.   Keep your thoughts sharp and ready whenever needed 🙂

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