Elite performers distinguish themselves from others by how they think, perform, and act. Individual abilities and talents help bring success in life, but the elite have something more.
The true elite have discovered a hidden superpower in their brain. A superpower that seeks to maximize the human brain… and no, this is not the smart drug NZT from the hit movie Limitless. This superpower is Neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis is not complicated. Simply break the word into two parts: neuro (neuron for nerve cell) and genesis (beginning or creation of). Neurogenesis is the creation of new nerve cells (otherwise known as brain cells). Thus, we all have the power to unlock this secret in our brain and create new brain cells.
Here are 7 ways elite performers unlock this hidden superpower.
The Secret in Your Brain and 7 Ways to Unlock It
They exercise like crazy.
“Exercise is Miracle-Gro for the brain.” – Dr. John Ratey
Neurogenesis is the birth of new brain cells. In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. John Ratey discusses the correlation between exercise and intellect. He found that aerobic exercise is the optimal vehicle for the production of the magical substance known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
So, no excuses! Not even the often-used time excuse. I use the Pomodoro Technique throughout my day to maximize my time and exercise routine. I wake-up prior to 4am daily. At a minimum, I immediately run 1-hour every morning. I then do 1000 push-ups, 1000 sit-ups, and 300 curls throughout the day. This number may seem extreme, yet it’s not. Using the Pomodoro Technique, I knock out 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 30 curls every 25-30 minutes. Before you know it, you have reached 1000.
Now drop and give me 100!
They are voracious readers.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
In my opinion, exercise and reading are the most important keys to success. We know that running increases BDNF production, for which BDNF sparks the growth of new brain cells. We must then learn and use our brain in order to keep our wiring strong.
Reading will open doors in our mind. Doors that have always been present, yet were previously closed. Reading enhances brain activity through ongoing and increased connectivity in our brain. It also increases our intelligence, cognitive efficiency, and expands our vocabulary.
Successful people read books on their profession. I do this prior to job interviews, prior to teaching a class, and prior to writing on a topic. If you have a job interview coming up in a week or so, find a book on the topic or find a book that the CEO of the company has penned and read it.
They upload knowledge to their brain through audiobooks.
“The world we live in is an illusion and you’re the magician. Don’t get lost in your own magic.”
What if you could plug yourself into a computer and upload knowledge? Well… you can. Think of an audiobook as a method to plug yourself in at every available opportunity. You can listen while running, while driving or stuck in traffic, or even while in the shower.
We know that our brain physically changes when we learn something new. So, plug in and learn something new. Audiobooks offer a way to speed up your learning. I play audiobooks at 2x the speed in order to listen to as many books as possible and it does not hamper my retention or comprehension.
They take their daily neuro-enhancer.
“I don’t have delusions of grandeur; I have an actual recipe for it.” – Bradley Cooper in Limitless
Our brain is plastic and malleable. It is able to form new connections and reorganize itself. Our brain learns when new information connects to something it already knows. Nootropics, otherwise known as smart drugs, provide us a way to improve those connections. Successful people are using nootropics for this purpose. They seek those things that provide cognitive optimization.
Nootropics are designed to hack powerful chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. They will improve your memory, motivation, focus, mood, attention, concentration, and intelligence. Along with prescription medication, here are some potent nootropics (use with caution): Adderall, Modafinil, Adrafinil, Alpha-GPC, Huperzine A, Pramiracetam, and Aniracetam.
They practice intermittent fasting.
“The human body is capable of amazing physical deeds. If we could just free ourselves from our perceived limitations and tap into our internal fire, the possibilities are endless.” – Dean Karnazes
When we fast, our bodies metabolic shift lowers our leptin levels (hormone producing fat). Using a calorie-restriction, we increase our synaptic plasticity. This enhances our brain cells and improves cognitive function. Fasting also brings about a process called autophagy. This is where our cells clean house and remove waste.
Here are some different ways to perform intermittent fasting: 16 Hour Fast, where your last meal ends at 7-8pm and you wait until 12pm the next day to eat; 5-2 Model, where you eat regularly for five days, followed by two days of a restricted diet.
They eat superfoods.
“Someone once told me not to bite off more than I could chew, I told them I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.” – Anonymous
Exercise and intermittent fasting will greatly enhance Neurogenesis; however, your diet also plays a role. Our diet plays a vital role in the health of our brain and provides us considerable power to influence Neurogenesis. Certain foods should be avoided, such as foods high in refined sugar. Certain activities and foods will actually block Neurogenesis, so we must completely avoid them.
The Paleo community is the area to look when seeking superfoods. The Paleo Diet is based on foods that were available to Paleolithic (stone-age) humans. Eat these superfoods and enhance Neurogenesis: Omega 3 fatty acids, blueberries, curcumin, green tea, vitamin E, and zinc.
They don’t think inside or outside the box… they don’t even know where the box is.
“When you ask me what I can bring to the table… I laugh, because I bring the damn table!”
Neurogenesis is enhanced when our mind and body is exposed to new and complex concepts and environments. Even crazy concepts, where you literally see words and numbers as colors, such as synesthesia.
Along with synesthesia, another powerful way to hack Neurogenesis is to use memory hacks such as building a memory palace. This is a far superior memory retention technique than simply trying to memorize information through repetition.
Lastly, be confident. Embrace the obsessed mentality where you do whatever it takes. Be crazy and different, yet confident when seeking new ideas. Less confident people shy away from action and miss opportunities, whereas those people with more confidence take action and opportunities present themselves to them.