If you're an entrepreneur your brain is already wired differently. Research shows that founder entrepreneurs think differently when it comes to recognizing and choosing opportunities. Studies also show that entrepreneurs demonstrate a higher tolerance for risk because of the way their brains work.
Do you find that you are quicker to respond to and resolve problems, and are less inhibited than people who are not entrepreneurial? You probably don't let a bit of ambiguity stop you from further exploring an idea or opportunity. After all, you can deal with these details in a later stage of the decision-making process, right? If this describes you, your behavior mirrors that of the entrepreneurs who took part in these studies.
We don't know if these differences are innate or purely related to a conditioning of the brain based on work experiences. But what we do know is that nearly anyone can literally upgrade how well their brain functions--and this upgrade could increase your level of success.
Your brain is constantly changing with your day-to-day experiences. In scientific terms, it's called neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to form new neural connections throughout life. Every time you learn something new or have a novel idea, a new pathway is created. The more you use the new pathway (through practice and repetition), the more ingrained it becomes in your thoughts and behavior; likewise, the less you use it, the weaker it becomes until it is eventually forgotten.
This is critical to an entrepreneur on many levels: the ability to overcome fear of success or failure is one of them. If you believe you cannot succeed, or subconsciously fear success, you are standing in your own way. Fortunately, your brain's neuroplasticity allows you to change the way you think, make your brain sharper, lower anxiety and reduce depression, improve memory, and much more. Here's a list of only a few of the activities that can help you achieve this.
Observe (and change) the thoughts that limit you.
Your life experiences have formed a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns; some are supportive of your goals and dreams and some are damaging to them. While people with limiting belief patterns tend to deny the power of semantics, the negative things you tell yourself only serve to reinforce their resulting limitations. It takes determination and consistency to change these patterns, but you certainly can--I help people do this every day. When you engage in negative self-talk, notice how your body feels. These thoughts produce fatigue, heaviness, even feelings of depression. Throughout your day catch these thoughts and open up a world of possibilities by turning them into more supportive, pleasing thoughts. If you have a difficult time believing the positive thoughts, introduce them with phrases like:
- I'm willing to consider that ...
- It's possible that ...
- I could be wrong and maybe the truth is ...
Work out your brain.
Take a break from your routine of doing things you're good at and you do frequently. Take a class and learn to do something new. Perform brain-boosting tasks regularly. I have a client, for instance, who learned to code, for no other reason than a desire to exercise his brain. When something becomes easy, switch it up and add a task that takes more concentration. Never stop trying new things.
The effects of exercise on the brain are profound. One of the many benefits is that exercise improves the executive function, or your cognitive abilities to do things like focus on complex tasks, organize, think abstractly, and plan for future events. It also improves working memory, such as the ability to keep a phone number in your head while you call it. Effects of regular aerobic exercise, 30 to 45 minutes several times a week, for longer than six months show the greatest results in studies.
Get rest, with plenty of sleep.
Neuroplasticity is what helps us evolve into better versions of ourselves, but without rest and sleep the benefits may diminish over time. We know that a well-rested brain and body result in stronger decision-making, improved mood, and better health. One of my favorite sleep tips comes from Arianna Huffington who suggests that you make a bedtime appointment with yourself and treat it the way you would any other appointment. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day will give you an enormous boost in the right direction.
Less than one percent of leaders make the effort to intentionally optimize their brain-mind connection for increasingly improved performance and decision making. The entrepreneurial mindset can, in some part, be learned and mastered, so how about we raise the bar to two percent?