The Secret to Bringing Your Best Brain

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If you have 12 minutes to read this blog post, then you have enough time to become a bada$$.

That was the goal of Pete Ronayne’s session at the 72nd CFA Institute Annual Conference, hosted by CFA Society of the UK. Ronayne, from the Center for Creative Leadership, led a presentation on How to Bring Your Best Brain and Bada$$ Self to All That You Do.

Central to the idea of bringing your best brain to something is the idea that your brain is both lazy, and paradoxically, greedy for energy. On average, it weighs 2% of a person’s body weight while consuming 20% of the body’s energy. And it is working at 100% of capacity, all the time!

Don’t think you have a lazy brain? Try adding these numbers quickly, and after each addition, say the total out loud: 1000 + 40 + 1000 + 30 + 1000 + 20 + 1000 + 10. If you got 5000, it’s time to admit that you have a lazy brain, eager to take mental shortcuts.

Recognising this demand for energy is important; when the brain runs out of energy, it has to be recharged. Otherwise, it will make mistakes, make you irritable, and generally keep you from performing at your best.

When something runs out of energy, we recharge it. But Ronayne pointed out that we are more concerned about the energy level of our phone than the energy level of our brain. If you don’t recharge your phone, it will stop working. If you don’t recharge your brain…

Instead of trying to tough it out by working harder and longer, you should recognise the need to recharge and do something about it. Ronayne recommends developing an energy ritual. And don’t say that you don’t have the time — you only need 12 minutes a day (but do it twice a day, if you can manage it).

Remember, success is the product of small changes! Resilience is built up in small, incremental steps.

Ronayne identified 5 areas that help develop resilience through recharging techniques. They are: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.

When you recognise that your energy levels are getting low, do something about it:

  • Get physical: go for a walk, and do it outside if possible.
  • Fancy a 12 minute power nap? Then take one! It’s a proven way of recharging the brain.
  • Not getting enough sleep at night? Go to bed 12 minutes early, and wake up 12 minutes later if you can.
  • Does drinking coffee help overcome the energy gap? Yes, it does. Have coffee just before your nap!

The key is to recognise that toughing it out, working longer and longer hours, is not the way forward. You must be mindful of energy levels and recharge, even for as brief a time as 12 minutes. This will bring your better brain and your best self to all situations. You will indeed be a bada$$.

Follow the 72nd CFA Institute Annual Conference online with Conference Live. It’s an insider’s perspective with live broadcasts of select sessions, exclusive speaker interviews, discussions of current topics, and updates on CFA Institute initiatives.


All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image courtesy of Miriam McCracken

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