Archive for the 'Brain' Category

Applying Brain Science For Leadership Development

Our brains are critical to everything we do in our lives.  Here are several resources I reference in my work and recommend to you to learn more about applying brain science for your leadership development, or to use as you coach leaders.

Dr. David Rock, consultant and author, coined the term NeuroLeadership in 2006. From the NeuroLeadership Institute website:

“NeuroLeadership is an emerging field of study focused on bringing neuroscientific knowledge into the areas of leadership development, management training, change management, education, consulting and coaching.”

“The NeuroLeadership movement is intended to help individuals and organisations of all types fulfill their potential through better understanding how the human brain functions at individual, team and systemic levels.”

Since 2007, Dr. Rock hosts the annual NeuroLeadership Summit and has developed the post-graduate Certificate in the Foundations of NeuroLeadership. He has written several books including  Coaching with the Brain in Mind, with Linda Page, and Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. Learn about the format and some concepts from the first few chapters of Your Brain at Work in my podcast. I invite you to participate in interesting discussions as a member of the open LinkedIn group, NeuroLeadership.

You can also explore the connection between brain science and leadership with Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders by psychiatrist, brain-imaging researcher, and executive coach, Dr. Srinivasan S. Pillay.

There is even a “Dummies” book on this topic. Check out The Leadership Brain for Dummies by international educational neuroscience consultant and adjunct professor, Marilee Sprenger.

If you are passionate about your own leadership development and that of your clients, you owe it to yourself, and those you lead, to explore the powerful applications of brain science to leadership. I invite you to share your experiences with neuroscience and leadership, and to share your recommended resources in this arena.

May you choose to create an amazing day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!

Melanie Hoffner

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Mental Exercise is a Brain Booster

Looking for a brain booster to improve your attention, problem-solving or memory? You have likely heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it!” in reference to your mental agility and memory. Let’s explore Alvero Fernandez’s second pillar of brain health:  Mental Exercise.

What kind of mental exercise are you including in your life, and how do you know if it is really effective mental exercise? Doing the same kind of mental problem-solving every day, like crossword puzzles, is less stimulating to the brain than learning something new. 

Fernandez notes, “‘Use it or lose it’ may be mis­lead­ing if we think that ‘It’ is just one thing. The brain is com­posed of many dif­fer­ent areas that focus on dif­fer­ent things. Doing a cross­word puz­zle only acti­vates a small part of the brain. The 3 key prin­ci­ples for good brain exer­cises are: nov­elty, vari­ety and con­stant chal­lenge. Not that dif­fer­ent from cross-training our bodies.”

Go to sharpbrains.com to read more of Fernandez’s “Brain Exercise and Brain Health FAQ’s” and explore the Teasers tab to enjoy some fun mental exercise. You could also take a class to learn ballroom dancing or origami. Whatever you choose, have fun with mental exercise as another brain booster!

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Kindness and Good News: Healthy Brain Boosters

How often are you reading or hearing about kindness and good news? We are bombarded by bad news and wonder why we feel stressed or discouraged. Read on to enjoy a healthy brain boost.

The other day I had stopped at a stop sign as I was leaving a store parking lot.  I wanted something from the back seat and since no one was behind me, I shifted my minivan into park, got out and opened the sliding back door. To my surprise, a binder and two file folders fell to the ground and the loose papers began to scatter with the wind.

“No, no, no!” was all I could say as I frantically grabbed the  binder and papers that were still at my feet, threw them into the back seat, turned off the ignition, put on my hazard lights, and began to pick up the dozens of pages lying in the next lane.  Two vehicles had now pulled up behind me and I waved them around me, as I bent down to pick up more pages. When I next looked up, the people in those vehicles were outside picking up papers! A woman and a teenage boy each handed me a stack of papers. “I don’t think they are in order,” she joked and smiled.

“That’s okay. If I have them, I can reorganize them. Thank you so much. Thank you both!” As I turned to go, she added, “I think he got the furthest ones,” pointing to a man across the open area of the lot. He was jogging toward us with a handful of papers. 

“I think I got them all,” he said as he handed them to me with a smile.  

“Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for your help.” I smiled and kept repeating, “Thank you.”

We all got into our vehicles smiling. These acts of kindness gave all of us, as well as anyone who saw them, a brain boost of serotonin, the chemical that creates a feeling of satisfaction, well-being, or “Ahhhh.” 

Not only did I have the papers, I also had a story of good news to share to help us remember that there is so much good happening around us every day. To read more good news, I recommend www.Gimundo.com I invite you to create good news with a random act of kindness today and enjoy your serotonin boost as well as the knowledge that you made a difference!

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Do You Have Your Best Brain?

Do you care for your brain like it’s yours for life? The bad news is that since you were never provided an owner’s manual for your brain, you are probably making lifestyle choices that impair your brain’s performance, or worse, actually damage your brain! The good news is that because your brain is resilient, making healthier lifestyle choices can improve your brain’s health and performance.

Alvaro Fernandez, with www.SharpBrains.com, has identified four pillars of brain health. Let’s start with the pillar of Physical Exercise, which has a number of positive benefits for your brain including increasing oxygen flow which increases mental sharpness, increasing BDNF which supports the growth of brain cells, increasing the creation of blood vessels in the brain and … click here to learn more from Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules: 12 Rules for Surviving and Thriving at Work School and Home.

Oh, and thirty minutes of aerobic exercise just twice a week reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by 50%!

I hope you can enjoy a walk today.

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Are You Making “Brain-Busting” or “Brain-Boosting” Choices?

mel char Are You Making Brain Busting or Brain Boosting Choices?We are at the point in January where the majority of New Year’s Resolutions have fallen by the wayside. You can re-engage your commitment to reach your success destination this year. A critical component of your planning, actions and success is your brain, and yet many of us give it little attention.

Your choices about what to eat or drink, what to think, whether or not to exercise, how much sleep you’ll get, and more all have a powerful impact on your brain’s health and performance. Many of us make “brain-busting” choices because we never learned how these choices can enhance or impair our brain.

Starting today, you can commit to learn about what your brain needs to be at its best and then make more conscious “brain-boosting” choices. I love to help people have their best brains at work, school and home and I commit to sharing information, websites, seminars and more so you can make more “brain-boosting” choices. A good place to start for a wealth of high- quality information is Dr. Daniel Amen’s site.

What do you want to learn or understand about your brain? Share a comment…

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!
Melanie

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A Key to Unlock Your Metabolism: Leptin and Your Brain

I wanted to share this powerful information with you, so I invited Strategic Life Coach Lynette Patterson to be my first guest blogger.  Enjoy! ~Melanie

When you are in the weight loss game, getting leptin on your team is essential.  This powerful hormone is produced in fat cells and is a primary force in weight management.

Communicating directly to your brain, this hormone surveys the state of your internal affairs and instructs the brain as to when you are full and how much fat is in storage.  When working properly, all is well.  You eat until satisfied and excess fat is burned up with ease.

Unfortunately… things do not often work as they should.  And when leptin stops working, food cravings, overeating and a sluggish metabolism are the result.

I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jennifer Dyer, endocrinologist , on the subject and am re-releasing the recording on my new Healing with the Experts site.

If you are struggling with hunger and feel like giving up, listen to this interview right away. Dr. Dyer provides strategies to help make your leptin work better so that losing weight isn’t so hard.

To access the call, go to http://www.healingwithexperts.com

A Little About Leptin

As I mentioned above, fat cells produce leptin and one would think that extra fat cells producing extra leptin would equal a sense of being full most of the day.  However, just as insulin resistance occurs, so does leptin resistance and the brain no longer “hears” the “I’m full” signals and urges the body to eat more.

Worse, because the brain senses that a famine has occurred (because it is no longer “hearing” the leptin signals),  it slows down the metabolism to conserve energy (including lowering thyroid production).  This creates a vicious cycle of lowered energy and increased hunger which create more fat cells that produce more leptin and on and on and on.

As leptin is a protein hormone, you can not boost or support your leptin levels with oral medications as it will break down and become ineffective in the digestive system.  Plus, for most people, the problem is that they have too much leptin, adding more leptin is simply counter productive.  So don’t spend money on the leptin supplements begin sold.

The best you can do is help your leptin work better by eating omega 3 rich foods,  lots of fruits and vegetables and exercising most days of the week.  Eat real food, not chemically created faux foods.  Drink adequate amounts of water and teas and use stevia or xylitol as a sweetener,  if you must.

Again, the call with Dr. Dyer is at http://www.healingwithexperts.com

Blessings,

Lynette Patterson

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What Are You Telling Yourself?

What is your relationship with your thoughts – that voice in your head? If you are thinking, “I don’t have a voice in my head,” or “Do I have a voice in my head?” that is the voice I am referring to today. We all have a running commentary in our minds that runs throughout our waking hours. The question is, have you trained that voice to be a supportive ally in your life, or do you allow it to run unchecked and believe everything it tells you?

Dr. Daniel Amen, a respected neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain imaging expert, and author, is committed to helping people have healthy brains. In numerous interviews, public television specials and articles, he has discussed the dangers of ANTS-Automatic Negative Thoughts – and your power to create APTS-Automatic Positive Thoughts. The following is from an article by Dr. Daniel Amen:

“The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.”

He also notes, “You do not have to believe every thought that goes through your head. It’s important to think about your thoughts to see if they help you or they hurt you. Unfortunately, if you never challenge your thoughts you just “believe them” as if they were true. ANTs can take over and infest your brain. Develop an internal anteater to hunt down and devour the negative thoughts that are ruining your life.

Once you learn about your thoughts, you can choose to think good thoughts and feel good or you can choose to think bad thoughts and feel lousy. You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can just allow them to be negative and upset you. That’s right, it’s up to you! You can learn how to change your thoughts and optimize your brain. One way to learn how to change your thoughts is to notice them when they are negative and talk back to them. If you can correct negative thoughts, you take away their power over you. When you think a negative thought without challenging it, your mind believes it and your brain reacts to it.”

You can read Dr. Amen’s article in its entirety at http://tinyurl.com/optimizebrain

For over 25 years, I have been teaching and training about choosing a positive mental attitude and using positive language, as well as sharing this strategy with my coaching clients. It’s exciting to see more brain research that supports the impact of both positive and negative thoughts.

The past two weeks, 3/3/10 and 3/10/10, I have focused on this topic during my online talkradio show. I invite you to listen to the recordings for more strategies to challenge those negative thoughts and train your self-talk to be your ally rather than your critic. ( www.blogtalkradio.com/spark )

I challenge you to take action on something you read so you can create more positive thoughts and self-talk to support you in living the life of your dreams. May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch! ~Melanie Hoffner

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