Genius – Litemind Exploring ways to use our minds efficiently. Mon, 01 Jan 2018 20:43:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Become an Expert: A Roadmap Tue, 14 Apr 2009 18:55:42 +0000 Wouldn’t you like to intuitively know the right answers? Enter the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, which shines a light on how we develop and master skills, helping us understand how we progress from novice to expert, including all the steps in between.

The post How to Become an Expert: A Roadmap appeared first on Litemind.

Roadmap for Mastery

Wouldn’t you like to be an expert? To intuitively know the right answers? Enter the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, which shines a light on how we develop and master skills, helping us understand how we progress from novice to expert, including all the steps in between.

Experts are Not Just Supercharged Novices

There’s much more to mastering a skill than just acquiring more knowledge. Just like adults are not simply bigger children, experts are not only smarter, more knowledgeable or faster than novices. The differences can be found at a more fundamental level, such as in how they perceive the world and approach problems.

Let’s take a familiar example: cooking. The novice cook needs detailed recipes to prepare even the simplest of dishes; the expert chef doesn’t need explicit recipes at all. It’s not that the chef memorized all the recipes. In fact, if he needs to make an unexpected change in how a dish is prepared — even one that was never made before — he can intuitively pull it off. Experienced folks seem to ‘just know’, don’t they?

To understand how that works, let’s turn to the ideas developed by brothers Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus in the early 80s, the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. Their model breaks down the journey to mastery in five discrete stages, outlining what’s necessary to improve at each of them. Let’s see.

The 5 Skill Levels

1. Novices

The main goal of novices is to accomplish immediate tasks. Since they have little or no previous experience, they’re usually insecure and are focused only on having their first successes. Novices need clear rules and unambiguous instructions, and to concentrate on following them strictly. As such, they commonly don’t feel responsible for anything other than correctly following what was passed to them (“I’m just following orders!”).

To improve, novices usually need close monitoring to bring their actions as close as possible to achieve what is expected by adhering to the rules.

2. Advanced Beginners

Advanced beginners still operate following rules, but they’re able to apply them not only on the exact situations that they were intended for, but also on similar contexts. The once-rigid rules become more like guidelines. Advanced beginners try new things out, but still have difficulty troubleshooting problems. Just like novices, they’re still focused on completing tasks — they don’t want lengthy theorizing and don’t have much interest in the big picture.

To improve, advanced beginners need to gain experience dealing with real situations, preferably in limited and controlled situations (with much of the ‘real-world complexity’ filtered out).

3. Competent

As the rules and guidelines become prohibitively complex, practitioners begin organizing and sorting them by relevance, forming conceptual models. Competent practitioners can troubleshoot problems, and will work based on deliberate planning and past experience. They are willing to make decisions and to accept responsibility for their outcomes.

To improve, competent practitioners need exposure to a wide variety of typical, real-world, ‘whole’ situations. By dealing with those, they better grasp the connections between the isolated conceptual models they already use.

4. Proficient

Proficient practitioners create not only conceptual models, but a conceptual framework around their whole skill. They want the big picture, and become frustrated with oversimplified information. They’re conscious of their performance and can adjust their behaviors accordingly. They can also use and adapt others’ experiences, as well as grasp and apply maxims — which require much more sophisticated interpretation than mere rules or guidelines (as they’re much more generic and context-dependent).

To advance to the fifth and last level, proficient practitioners need even more practice — lots of it. And, as much as possible, they should practice without being hindered by policies or guidelines. The intuition of the expert starts with a vast pool of practical knowledge, and that can only be developed by experimenting freely.

5. Experts

The hallmark of experts is intuition: they just do what works — no explicit analysis or planning is involved. While proficient practitioners can intuitively identify problems, experts can go and intuitively solve them. They tap into their vast pool of knowledge and effortlessly identify patterns, applying solutions in context. Although experts are amazingly intuitive, they are usually rather inarticulate in explaining how they arrived at a conclusion.

Although technically this is the last stage in the model, experts never cease to practice and evolve in subtle ways, incorporating rarer and exceptional cases in their knowledge pool.

Common Themes: What Are the Fundamental Changes?

By looking at the five levels from a higher altitude, we can distill some common themes that emerge as one progresses from novice to expert:

  • Moving away from relying on rules and explicit knowledge to intuition and pattern matching.
  • Better filtering, where problems are no longer a big collection of data but a complete and unique whole where some bits are much more relevant than others.
  • Moving from being a detached observer of the problem to an involved part of the system itself, accepting responsibility for results, not just for carrying out tasks.

Lessons from the Dreyfus Model

How can we use the Dreyfus model in everyday life? Find below some key takeaways and ideas that speak most loudly to me. (I’m sure there are many others — feel free to contribute in the comments!)

  • Make skills acquisition as productive as possible. This is true both for individuals as well as for teams. By having a better idea of your skill level, you’re able to give yourself (or others in your team) exactly what’s needed at that particular level. If you want novices to operate at their best, they will need unambiguous rules. On the other hand, bothering the experts with intricate rules and policies is a recipe for frustration and bringing their performance down. We want to avoid ‘racing sheep and herding horses’.
  • Use it as a standard guidance and assessment framework. The Dreyfus model gives us a no-nonsense way to assess and compare skill levels in many contexts. We could use it to design better learning materials and courses, or salary ladders based strictly on skill level. Granted, the model is not 100% objective, but it’s much better than many ‘fluffy’ assessment tools I’ve seen around.
  • Pair up mentors and apprentices effectively. I’ve seen a big misconception many times, which is that the better you are at a skill the better mentor you’ll be. Not at all! In fact, experts can be the worst possible mentors, as they may lack the language (not to mention the patience) to deal with novices. It’s usually better to pair up people who are not more than two levels apart. That way, the mentor has significantly more experience than the apprentice, and can also hark back to the time he was an apprentice himself.

A Book Recommendation

Pragmatic Thinking and Learning
Most of the ideas in this article were taken from the book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, which is my new all-time-favorite ‘how-to-use-your-brain’ kind of book.

If you’re interested in more details on the Dreyfus model, as well as many techniques and practical concepts for brain development, I highly recommend you to grab a copy. (Note: The book is marketed for software developers, but I found it’s highly readable and useful for ‘normal people’ as well) 😉

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: How to Become an Expert: A Roadmap.

The post How to Become an Expert: A Roadmap appeared first on Litemind.

]]> 18
Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It) Tue, 04 Nov 2008 12:32:17 +0000 Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had 1 hour to save the world he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes finding the solution. Here are 10 strategies you can use to tackle the most important step when solving problems.

The post Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It) appeared first on Litemind.

Einstein's Secret to Jaw-Dropping Problem Solving

Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are 10 strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!

The Problem Is To Know What the Problem Is

The definition of the problem will be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts. As such, it makes sense to devote as much attention and dedication to problem definition as possible. What usually happens is that as soon as we have a problem to work on we’re so eager to get to solutions that we neglect spending any time refining it.

What most of us don’t realize — and what supposedly Einstein might have been alluding to — is that the quality of the solutions we come up with will be in direct proportion to the quality of the description of the problem we’re trying to solve. Not only will your solutions be more abundant and of higher quality, but they’ll be achieved much, much more easily. Most importantly, you’ll have the confidence to be tackling a worthwhile problem.

Problem Definition Tools and Strategies

The good news is that getting different perspectives and angles in order to clearly define a problem is a skill that can be learned and developed. As such, there are many strategies you can use to perfect it. Here are the 10 most effective ones I know.

1. Rephrase the Problem

When a Toyota executive asked employees to brainstorm “ways to increase their productivity”, all he got back were blank stares. When he rephrased his request as “ways to make their jobs easier”, he could barely keep up with the amount of suggestions.

Words carry strong implicit meaning and, as such, play a major role in how we perceive a problem. In the example above, ‘be productive’ might seem like a sacrifice you’re doing for the company, while ‘make your job easier’ may be more like something you’re doing for your own benefit, but from which the company also benefits. In the end, the problem is still the same, but the feelings — and the points of view — associated with each of them are vastly different.

Play freely with the problem statement, rewording it several times. For a methodic approach, take single words and substitute variations. ‘Increase sales’? Try replacing ‘increase’ with ‘attract’, ‘develop’, ‘extend’, ‘repeat’ and see how your perception of the problem changes. A rich vocabulary plays an important role here, so you may want to use a thesaurus or develop your vocabulary.

2. Expose and Challenge Assumptions

Every problem — no matter how apparently simple it may be — comes with a long list of assumptions attached. Many of these assumptions may be inaccurate and could make your problem statement inadequate or even misguided.

The first step to get rid of bad assumptions is to make them explicit. Write a list and expose as many assumptions as you can — especially those that may seem the most obvious and ‘untouchable’.

That, in itself, brings more clarity to the problem at hand. But go further and test each assumption for validity: think in ways that they might not be valid and their consequences. What you will find may surprise you: that many of those bad assumptions are self-imposed — with just a bit of scrutiny you are able to safely drop them.

For example, suppose you’re about to enter the restaurant business. One of your assumptions might be ‘restaurants have a menu’. While such an assumption may seem true at first, try challenging it and maybe you’ll find some very interesting business models (such as one restaurant in which customers bring dish ideas for the chef to cook, for example).

3. Chunk Up

Each problem is a small piece of a greater problem. In the same way that you can explore a problem laterally — such as by playing with words or challenging assumptions — you can also explore it at different “altitudes”.

If you feel you’re overwhelmed with details or looking at a problem too narrowly, look at it from a more general perspective. In order to make your problem more general, ask questions such as: “What’s this a part of?”, “What’s this an example of?” or “What’s the intention behind this?”.

For a detailed explanation of how this principle works, check the article Boost Your Brainstorm Effectiveness with the Why Habit.

Another approach that helps a lot in getting a more general view of a problem is replacing words in the problem statement with hypernyms. Hypernyms are words that have a broader meaning than the given word. (For example, a hypernym of ‘car’ is ‘vehicle’). A great, free tool for finding hypernyms for a given word is WordNet (just search for a word and click on the ‘S:’ label before the word definitions).

4. Chunk Down

If each problem is part of a greater problem, it also means that each problem is composed of many smaller problems. It turns out that decomposing a problem in many smaller problems — each of them more specific than the original — can also provide greater insights about it.

‘Chunking the problem down’ (making it more specific) is especially useful if you find the problem overwhelming or daunting.

Some of the typical questions you can ask to make a problem more specific are: “What are parts of this?” or “What are examples of this?”.

Just as in ‘chunking up’, word substitution can also come to great use here. The class of words that are useful here are hyponyms: words that are stricter in meaning than the given one. (E.g. two hyponyms of ‘car’ are ‘minivan’ and ‘limousine’). WordNet can also help you finding hyponyms.

5. Find Multiple Perspectives

Before rushing to solve a problem, always make sure you look at it from different perspectives. Looking at it with different eyes is a great way to have instant insight on new, overlooked directions.

For example, if you own a business and are trying to ‘increase sales’, try to view this problem from the point of view of, say, a customer. For example, from the customer’s viewpoint, this may be a matter of adding features to your product that one would be willing to pay more for.

Rewrite your problem statement many times, each time using one of these different perspectives. How would your competition see this problem? Your employees? Your mom?

Also, imagine how people in various roles would frame the problem. How would a politician see it? A college professor? A nun? Try to find the differences and similarities on how the different roles would deal with your problem.

6. Use Effective Language Constructs

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for properly crafting the perfect problem statement, but there are some language constructs that always help making it more effective:

  • Assume a myriad of solutions. An excellent way to start a problem statement is: “In what ways might I…”. This expression is much superior to “How can I…” as it hints that there’s a multitude of solutions, and not just one — or maybe none. As simple as this sounds, the feeling of expectancy helps your brain find solutions.
  • Make it positive. Negative sentences require a lot more cognitive power to process and may slow you down — or even derail your train of thought. Positive statements also help you find the real goal behind the problem and, as such, are much more motivating.
    For example: instead of finding ways to ‘quit smoking’, you may find that ‘increase your energy’, ‘live longer’ and others are much more worthwhile goals.
  • Frame your problem in the form of a question. Our brain loves questions. If the question is powerful and engaging, our brains will do everything within their reach to answer it. We just can’t help it: Our brains will start working on the problem immediately and keep working in the background, even when we’re not aware of it.
  • If you’re still stuck, consider using the following formula for phrasing your problem statement:
    “In what ways (action) (object) (qualifier) (end result)?”
    Example: In what ways might I package (action) my book (object) more attractively (qualifier) so people will buy more of it (end result)?

7. Make It Engaging

In addition to using effective language constructs, it’s important to come up with a problem statement that truly excites you so you’re in the best frame of mind for creatively tackling the problem. If the problem looks too dull for you, invest the time adding vigor to it while still keeping it genuine. Make it enticing. Your brain will thank (and reward) you later.

One thing is to ‘increase sales’ (boring), another one is ‘wow your customers’. One thing is ‘to create a personal development blog’, another completely different is to ’empower readers to live fully’.

8. Reverse the Problem

One trick that usually helps when you’re stuck with a problem is turning it on its head.

If you want to win, find out what would make you lose. If you are struggling finding ways to ‘increase sales’, find ways to decrease them instead. Then, all you need to do is reverse your answers. ‘Make more sales calls’ may seem an evident way of increasing sales, but sometimes we only see these ‘obvious’ answers when we look at the problem from an opposite direction.

This seemingly convoluted method may not seem intuitive at first, but turning a problem on its head can uncover rather obvious solutions to the original problem.

9. Gather Facts

Investigate causes and circumstances of the problem. Probe details about it — such as its origins and causes. Especially if you have a problem that’s too vague, investigating facts is usually more productive than trying to solve it right away.

If, for example, the problem stated by your spouse is “You never listen to me”, the solution is not obvious. However, if the statement is “You don’t make enough eye contact when I’m talking to you,” then the solution is obvious and you can skip brainstorming altogether. (You’ll still need to work on the implementation, though!)

Ask yourself questions about the problem. What is not known about it? Can you draw a diagram of the problem? What are the problem boundaries? Be curious. Ask questions and gather facts. It is said that a well-defined problem is halfway to being solved: I would add that a perfectly-defined problem is not a problem anymore.

10. Problem-Solve Your Problem Statement

I know I risk getting into an infinite loop here, but as you may have noticed, getting the right perspective of a problem is, well, a problem in itself. As such, feel free to use any creative thinking technique you know to help. There are plenty to choose from:

You may want to give yourself an Idea Quota of problem statements. Or write a List of 100 problems to solve. SCAMPER your problem definition. These are just some of dozen techniques you can try.

Of course, how much effort you invest in defining the problem in contrast to how much effort you invest in solving your actual problem is a hard balance to achieve, though one which is attainable with practice.

Personally, I don’t think that 55 minutes of defining a problem versus 5 minutes acting on it is usually a good proportion. The point is that we must be aware of how important problem defining is and correct our tendency to spend too little time on it.

In fact, when you start paying more attention to how you define your problems, you’ll probably find that it is usually much harder than solving them. But you’ll also find that the payoff is well worth the effort.


(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It).

The post Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It) appeared first on Litemind.

]]> 70
How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth Thu, 16 Oct 2008 13:13:20 +0000 Think of the greatest athletes, musicians or artists that inspires you. They were each born with a special gift: wired from birth with talents and abilities that we don't have access to, right? Research shows it’s not that simple.

The post How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth appeared first on Litemind.

How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth

This is an article by guest writer Don Campbell of Expand2Web.

“A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” –Pablo Sarasate (Spanish violinist)

Think of the greatest athlete, musician, artist or business professional that inspires you. The amazing talents that really stand out. Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods. Warren Buffett. They were each born with a special gift: wired from birth with talents and abilities that most of us don’t have access to, right?

Research is showing that it’s not that simple. In fact, many child prodigies don’t go on to major success in the area of their early gifts. And many of the greatest performers, athletes and business people never showed any early signs of aptitude.

So, how did they become great at what they do?

A couple of years ago I read an article by Geoffrey Colvin in Fortune, What It Takes To Be Great. The article is fascinating and delves into the question of innate abilities, usually referred as “the talent myth”.

The Research on Great Performance

In 1993, Florida State University professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues published a paper on ‘expert performance’ which, along with the additional studies around the world that it inspired, made some very interesting discoveries:

  • Nobody is “great” without lots of work. Early aptitude is not a predictor for greatness in a given field without consistent practice over a long period of time.
  • The most accomplished people in any field need about 10 years of hard work before they become “world class”. They call this the 10 Year Rule.

Many of these scientists are now saying that “targeted” natural gifts do not exist at all. You are not born a CEO or chess grandmaster. Rather, greatness is achieved by hard, focused work over many years.

Charlie Parker, widely considered one of the most influential of Jazz musicians, showed no sign of musical talent as a child. He started playing saxophone at age 11, and was thrown out of his high school band because he was so bad. But this drove him to practice intensively for many years, for four years up to 15 hours a day. It was many years after that before he was noticed.

Tiger Woods started practicing golf at 18 months, and was encouraged to practice by his father. He had been practicing intensively for 15 years before winning the U.S. Amateur Championship at age 18.

But you and I both know people who work very hard. Many work for decades at a job or hobby without approaching greatness. Why don’t they become “world class”, then?

It turns out that it’s not just hard work that is required. What is required is focused, consistent practice over a long period of time. Something the researchers are calling deliberate practice.

Deliberate Practice

Truly great people in any field devote many hours to deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is an activity that goes beyond repetition. It is consistent practice where the goal is to continually improve performance, reaching beyond your current capabilities, and seeking feedback on results.

The article describes what is my favorite example of deliberate practice:

Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate practice, which is why most golfers don’t get better. Hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80 percent of the time, continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day — that’s deliberate practice.

And what’s great about these findings is that we can apply them to all areas of our life. Almost any skill is improvable. Giving presentations. Sports. Negotiating. Whatever it is that you do and have a passion for, you can improve and become truly great — if you are willing to put in the work, that is.

The Deliberate Practice Formula

  1. Approach each critical task with an explicit goal of getting much better at it. Set goals that are just beyond your level of competency.
  2. As you do the task, focus on what’s happening and why you’re doing it the way you are.
  3. After the task, get feedback on your performance from multiple sources. Don’t get emotional about it, and make changes in your behavior as necessary.
  4. Continually build mental models of your situation – of your industry, your company, your career. Expand the models to encompass more factors. (A good book on the concept of mental models is The Power of Impossible Thinking by Yoram Wind and Colin Cook).
  5. Do those steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work. Consistency is the key here.

What Does This All Mean?

We don’t have to be born with a special talent in order to be great at something. We just have to have the desire to constantly work at and improve our skill. This is huge: it means that you can learn to be good, or even great at nearly anything!

Most people won’t go through the long and difficult process of deliberate practice. But this is what can separate you from the pack. This is what makes great performance rare: most people either don’t believe they can do it, or aren’t willing to do the work to become truly great at their passion.

So ask yourself, what is your ‘mastery skill’? What should you work on to improve regularly, practicing, getting feedback, improving and pushing yourself to higher levels of excellence?

Is it your career? Is it a sport? Is it art or music? Now that you know that excellence is a choice, a whole world of possibilities opens up. Are you ready to pursue your dream and become “world class at it”?

Article Mind Map

When I read something that I really want to remember, I create a mind map to help me conceptualize what I’ve read. My mind map summary of the article that inspired this post, What It Takes To Be Great, is included below.

How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth Mind Map

Additional Resources

About Don Campbell

Don is the publisher of, a website devoted to helping small business owners automate their business websites using WordPress, and get a steady stream of new customers from Google and Yahoo. In his leisure time Don enjoys learning to play Jazz piano, skiing, and wake boarding. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the San Jose, California where they enjoy traveling and exploring the Redwoods and the Pacific ocean beaches.

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth.

The post How to be Great: Rising Above the Talent Myth appeared first on Litemind.

]]> 42
How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci Tue, 09 Sep 2008 14:33:20 +0000 How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci does a superb job of capturing the essence of Leonardo’s genius and laying it out in a practical framewor. Here are the 7 key areas that shaped Leonardo’s genius and which you can use for your own self-improvement.

The post How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci appeared first on Litemind.

How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci - Mind map

In this post, I present a summary of the mind-expanding bestseller How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, along with some thoughts about Leonardo and the book. (To skip directly to the summary, click here.)

Leonardo is my Childhood (and Adulthood) Hero

Since my childhood, I was utterly fascinated by the figure of Leonardo da Vinci and his achievements. It never ceased to puzzle and amaze me how a single person could be a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.

Fast forward many years, it was when visiting Leonardo’s exhibition in the Milan Science and Technology Museum that I decided to have him as a permanent source of inspiration for life. Being able to get in touch with his mastery of both science and arts captivated me for good.

Leonardo is not only probably the greatest genius ever: he’s the one that most fully embodies the ‘Renaissance Man‘ ideal. Pursuing that ideal means being focused not on excelling on a single knowledge domain, but on having a holistic view of excellence in life. It means much more than just intellectual achievement, it means full realization of human potential in every aspect.

Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (detail)

A Framework for Genius

In How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, author Michael Gelb does a superb job of capturing the essence of Leonardo’s genius and laying it out in a practical framework for self-improvement. Here are the 7 key areas that shaped Leonardo’s genius and which you can use as a framework for your own self-improvement:

  1. Curiosità: An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  2. Dimostrazione: A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  3. Sensazione: The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  4. Sfumato: A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  5. Arte/Scienza: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. “Whole-brain” thinking.
  6. Corporalitá: The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  7. Connessione: A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

In the book there’s a thorough explanation of how each of these seven key areas applies in Leonardo’s life. More importantly, it’s packed with practical advice and dozens of exercises you can start doing immediately to develop your thinking skills in many unconventional ways. For a reference to the exercises, check the free book summary below.

Book Summary

This mind map summary focuses on the practical exercises contained in the book, so it’s intended to be more of a reference you can come back to from time to time than a complete replacement of the book. (If you enjoyed the article 120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power, you’ll recognize that some of those tips came from this book, but you’ll also find a wealth of new tips which aren’t in that article.)

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci Book

Get the mind map for How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci:

As a side note, I found it rather amusing to summarize this book using mind mapping, since How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci was one the first references I came across when learning about the technique.


About a decade later, after having bought it in 1998, I still use How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci regularly as a reference for inspiration and personal growth. This book ended up becoming one of the most influential for me, solidifying my choice of Leonardo as a role model and presenting a very useful framework that I use for self-development up until today.

…Which made me curious. Do you have one or more role models in life? Who inspires you the most to reach your full potential? Share in the comments!

La Scapigliata (detail)

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci.

The post How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci appeared first on Litemind.

]]> 17
120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power Tue, 26 Aug 2008 16:50:19 +0000 Here are 120 things you can do starting today to help you think faster, improve memory, comprehend information better and unleash your brain’s full potential. Solve puzzles and brainteasers. Cultivate ambidexterity. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, comb your hair or use the mouse. Write with both hands simultaneously. Switch hands for knife […]

The post 120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power appeared first on Litemind.

Boost your Brain Power

Here are 120 things you can do starting today to help you think faster, improve memory, comprehend information better and unleash your brain’s full potential.

  1. Solve puzzles and brainteasers.
  2. Cultivate ambidexterity. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, comb your hair or use the mouse. Write with both hands simultaneously. Switch hands for knife and fork.
  3. Embrace ambiguity. Learn to enjoy things like paradoxes and optical illusions.
  4. Learn mind mapping.
  5. Block one or more senses. Eat blindfolded, wear earplugs, shower with your eyes closed.
  6. Develop comparative tasting. Learn to properly taste wine, chocolate, beer, cheese or anything else.
  7. Find intersections between seemingly unrelated topics.
  8. Learn to use different keyboard layouts. Try Colemak or Dvorak for a full mind twist!
  9. Find novel uses for common objects. How many different uses can you find for a nail? 10? 100?
  10. Reverse your assumptions.
  11. Learn creativity techniques.
  12. Go beyond the first, ‘right’ answer.
  13. Transpose reality. Ask “What if?” questions.
  14. SCAMPER!
  15. Turn pictures or the desktop wallpaper upside down.
  16. Become a critical thinker. Learn to spot common fallacies.
  17. Learn logic. Solve logic puzzles.
  18. Get familiar with the scientific method.
  19. Draw. Doodle. You don’t need to be an artist.
  20. Think positive.
  21. Engage in arts — sculpt, paint, play music — or any other artistic endeavor.
  22. Learn to juggle.
  23. Eat ‘brain foods’.
  24. Be slightly hungry.
  25. Exercise!
  26. Sit up straight.
  27. Drink lots of water.
  28. Deep-breathe.
  29. Laugh!
  30. Vary activities. Get a hobby.
  31. Sleep well.
  32. Power nap.
  33. Listen to music.
  34. Conquer procrastination.
  35. Go technology-less.
  36. Look for brain resources in the web.
  37. Change clothes. Go barefoot.
  38. Master self-talk.
  39. Simplify!
  40. Play chess or other board games. Play via Internet (particularly interesting is to play an ongoing game by e-mail).
  41. Play ‘brain’ games. Sudoku, crossword puzzles or countless others.
  42. Be childish!
  43. Play video games.
  44. Be humorous! Write or create a joke.
  45. Create a List of 100.
  46. Have an Idea Quota.
  47. Capture every idea. Keep an idea bank.
  48. Incubate ideas. Let ideas percolate. Return to them at regular intervals.
  49. Engage in ‘theme observation’. Try to spot the color red as many times as possible in a day. Find cars of a particular make. Invent a theme and focus on it.
  50. Keep a journal.
  51. Learn a foreign language.
  52. Eat at different restaurants – ethnic restaurants specially.
  53. Learn how to program a computer.
  54. Spell long words backwards. !gnignellahC
  55. Change your environment. Change the placement of objects or furniture — or go somewhere else.
  56. Write! Write a story, poetry, start a blog.
  57. Learn sign language.
  58. Learn a musical instrument.
  59. Visit a museum.
  60. Study how the brain works.
  61. Learn to speed-read.
  62. Find out your learning style.
  63. Dump the calendar!
  64. Try to mentally estimate the passage of time.
  65. “Guesstimate”. Are there more leaves in the Amazon rainforest or neuron connections in your brain? (answer).
  66. Make friends with math. Fight ‘innumeracy’.
  67. Build a Memory Palace.
  68. Learn a peg system for memory.
  69. Have sex! (sorry, no links for this one! 🙂 )
  70. Memorize people’s names.
  71. Meditate. Cultivate mindfulness and an empty mind.
  72. Watch movies from different genres.
  73. Turn off the TV.
  74. Improve your concentration.
  75. Get in touch with nature.
  76. Do mental math.
  77. Have a half-speed day.
  78. Change the speed of certain activities. Go either super-slow or super-fast deliberately.
  79. Do one thing at a time.
  80. Be aware of cognitive biases.
  81. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would different people think or solve your problems? How would a fool tackle it?
  82. Adopt an attitude of contemplation.
  83. Take time for solitude and relaxation.
  84. Commit yourself to lifelong learning.
  85. Travel abroad. Learn about different lifestyles.
  86. Adopt a genius. (Leonardo is excellent company!)
  87. Have a network of supportive friends.
  88. Get competitive.
  89. Don’t stick with only like-minded people. Have people around that disagree with you.
  90. Brainstorm!
  91. Change your perspective. Short/long-term, individual/collective.
  92. Go to the root of the problems.
  93. Collect quotes.
  94. Change the media you’re working on. Use paper instead of the computer; voice recording instead of writing.
  95. Read the classics.
  96. Develop your reading skill. Reading effectively is a skill. Master it.
  97. Summarize books.
  98. Develop self-awareness.
  99. Say your problems out loud.
  100. Describe one experience in painstaking detail.
  101. Learn Braille. You can start learning the floor numbers while going up or down the elevator.
  102. Buy a piece of art that disturbs you. Stimulate your senses in thought-provoking ways.
  103. Try different perfumes and scents.
  104. Mix your senses. How much does the color pink weigh? How does lavender scent sound?
  105. Debate! Defend an argument. Try taking the opposite side, too.
  106. Use time boxing.
  107. Allocate time for brain development.
  108. Have your own mental sanctuary.
  109. Be curious!
  110. Challenge yourself.
  111. Develop your visualization skills. Use it at least 5 minutes a day.
  112. Take notes of your dreams. Keep a notebook by your bedside and record your dreams first thing in the morning or as you wake up from them.
  113. Learn to lucid dream.
  114. Keep a lexicon of interesting words. Invent your own words.
  115. Find metaphors. Connect abstract and specific concepts.
  116. Manage stress.
  117. Get random input. Write about a random word in a magazine. Read random sites using StumbleUpon or Wikipedia.
  118. Take different routes each day. Change the streets you follow to work, jog or go back home.
  119. Install a different operating system on your computer.
  120. Improve your vocabulary.
  121. Deliver more than what’s expected.

Readers’ Contributions

  1. Dance! (by Shanel Yang)
  2. Study Philoshophy and the writings of great thinkers. (by ZHereford)
  3. Be around people that are smarter than you. (by Angel Cuala)
  4. Use ‘brain fitness’ software. (by Eric Blue)
  5. Read text upside down (the text, not you… well, you can try that, too). (by Thales)
  6. Act in a stageplay. (by Thales)
  7. Practice ‘environmental creativity’. Keep asking yourself questions like “What does this mean?” and “How can I use this?”. (by Chuck Frey)
  8. Use a reverse clock. You can buy one or make your own. (by Brendan Dunphy)
  9. Take an improvisation class. (by Patricia Ryan Madson)
  10. Pun! Play with words. (by David Lurey)
  11. Do It Yourself: Create or repair things without the aid of paid professionals. Repair, sew, cook, build, weave, paint, etc. (by b.honey)
  12. Teach someone something you know. (by Usiku)
  13. Help a child with their homework. (by Usiku)
  14. Provide thoughtful comments on blogs and websites. (by Usiku)
  15. Discuss religion and politics, even with friends. (by Usiku)
  16. Teach yourself origami. (by Pamela)
  17. Learn to knit or crochet. (by Pamela)
  18. Shop at a market different from the usual. (by Pamela)
  19. Think of something you fear. Work to conquer it. (by Pamela)
  20. Play bridge (or other card games). (by millie)
  21. Practice Yoga. (by Rajesh)
  22. Learn martial arts. (by Chirou)
  23. Study the concepts of Relativity (both General and Special). (by Tim)
  24. Practice echolocation (sense objects by hearing echoes from those objects). (by Tim)
  25. Help and immigrant learn your language. (by Ray)
  26. Translate articles (by Remigiusz Durka).
    Note: Thanks to everybody who translated this article! Caruso (Spanish), Tommaso (Italian), Eylos (Turkish) and Remigiusz (Polish). (Anyone else I’m missing?)
  27. Eat raw foods. (by Carlos Caridad)
  28. Remember childhood and imagine living it with your current experience. (by Janine)
  29. Imagine how would you survice in a different epoch (say, 5000 years go). (by Mel Smith)
  30. Play role-playing games (RPG) (by FreeMasons)
  31. Treat life’s challenges as social experiments (by Michael Gaudet)
  32. Eat with chopsticks. (by Tore)
  33. Crawl backwards, walk up steps backwards. (by Meribela)
  34. Make mistakes! (by Marc)

Contribute your own tip!

There are many, many ways to keep our brains sharp. I’m sure you have your own personal favorite, so please share it in the comments! I’ll regularly compile the best tips and add them to this list (giving full credit, with a link to your site, if you have one). Thanks!

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: 120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power.

The post 120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power appeared first on Litemind.

]]> 228