You’ve got to move it move it. What? Move it!

Movers and Shakers 

I have a niece and she is crazy. I mean she is just plain nuts. She is also only two years old, so she is living up to the “terrible two’s” stereotype, if not surpassing it. Now I don’t mean to say that she is a bad kid – and she’s not, she’s absolutely adorable – but she just gets into everything. She is curious, as all children are. If something has her attention she’s going to make a full effort to explore and find out more about it. The need to explore is a human trait and is deeply rooted in our neural evolution. For thousands and thousands of years humans have been very active in exploring planet Earth (and other planets too). Our activity as a result of our exploration has had some pretty profound impacts on our brain development. 

 Humans are made to Move 

notice that all of these people are in motion. that could be you!

notice that all of these people are in motion. that could be you!

Who wants to walk 12 miles with me today? Any takers? Probably not.  It might surprise you to find out that our human ancestors traveled as much as 12 miles a day. They did this to find food, safety and to explore. Thousands of years of traveling did much to improve the brain functions of early man, and it still holds true for humans today. 

 Our brains make up only 2% of our body mass, yet account for 20% of our energy use. That’s an incredible fact considering that if the brain was like the rest of the body is should really account for 2% of energy use. Oxygen is vital to brain nourishment. Activity (exercise) does humans a lot of good. When the body is moving during exercise it pumps blood and oxygen through out the body and especially to the brain. Nitric Oxide is a flow regulating molecule that through exercise creates more blood vessels in the brain in some pretty key areas. This process of neurogenesis helps improve our cognitive ability. 

 Don’t be a couch potato 

 

I highly recomend this book.

I highly recomend this book.

University of Washington Neurologist and author of the book Brain Rules, John Medina, shows that our society gives us a lot of reasons be a couch potato. Things like television, computers, and video games often allow people to sit around for hours upon hours with little body movement. Couple that with fast food and you wonder why America is the world’s fattest nation.  John goes a step further and examined some of our most institutional environments that we created for ourselves and how they negatively impact our brain development and chemistry. I’m talking about classrooms and cubicles, the mainstays of our educational and professional systems. Think about it for eight plus hours a day our children and coworkers are often sitting motionless at a desk or trapped in some fabric-lined neural jail cell. For our brains to function optimally we as humans need to move. 

Active Performance 

It’s important to note that exercise alone will not improve your cognitive ability but repeated tests have shown a strong association to improved cognitive performance. In fact it was found that physically fit kids and adults had faster response times compared to their over weight counter parts. What’s more amazing is that physical activity and exercise were found to decrease your odds of Alzheimer Disease by 60% and stroke by an amazing 57%. 

The great news is that you don’t have to run marathons to benefit from exercise. All you have to do is walk about 20 minutes a day three days a week and be more conscious of your dietary intake. It really doesn’t take much. It should also be noted that balance is key to exercise. Overdoing workouts will negatively impact your brain function. So be fit in a manner that comfortably works best for you. Walk when you can and breathe deep and often because Oxygen is so important your brain’s health and development. 

 We have the same brains our early ancestors did that walked 12 miles a day. So be active and make the most of your brain. I’ll leave you with this quote from John Medina that sums up why humans are made to move.  

“We were not used to sitting in a classroom for 8 hours at a stretch. We were not used to sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours at a stretch. If we sat around the Serengeti for 8 hours – heck, 8 minutes – we were usually somebody’s lunch.”

The Problem with Success

Every person has some sort of desire to better themselves in some form or way. Being the social creatures that we are we almost always use social benchmarks to gauge our growth and development. I’m talking about awards, promotions, elections, friendships, fame, and love. Striving to become successful is important in personal and professional relationships. In order to get where we want to go we make goals for ourselves, and if everything works out in the end we reach our goals and hopefully become a success story. 

Success, however, is not what it seems. It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a man’s character by how he deals with hardships, but you can tell even more about a man’s character by how he deals with success. Success can take many forms and is the aspiration of many, but success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance will always lead you to failure that could have easily been avoided. Success is the kiss of death. Don’t believe me? Take these organizations for example: The Roman Empire, The Soviet Union, Enron, General Motors, Michael Jackson, and the list goes on. I believe that we have to fundamentally change our view of success in this country so that we can weather the storms of success that the future may bring. To do this we’re going backtrack and take a look at goal setting.

 The American Nightmare

In a recent survey of 18-25 year olds conducted by The Pew Research Center that focused on “the American Dream”, 81% said their dream was the become rich, and 51% said their dream was to become famous. This is a far cry from the American dreams of our parents and grandparents. They once dreamed of owning a house of their own and providing for their family. Here we are some 40-50 years later and our dreams have been stretched to absurd wealth and fame. Alarmed? You should be Generation Y is our future. I’m nervous and I’m only 24. I’m in the thick of this mess, but alas I have not yet been perverted by dreams of wealth and paparazzi. 

 

success can lead to this...

success can lead to this...

 

Whenever I work with college classes I always talk about this survey, because when you hear it sounds really absurd.  What I try to explain to the students is that it’s okay to want to be successful but you have to understand that just wanting to be successful isn’t enough to actually make you successful. Many people believe that attributes like wealth, fame and success are goals themselves when in fact they are actually byproducts of hard work, growth and development.

Michael Jordan was famous because he was the best at basketball, Dave Matthews is famous because he’s a dedicated and talented musician, and Gandhi was known the world over because he was a person who strove to be the pinnacle of morality and righteousness. Their fame was secondary to their talent and hard work.

Goals and Objectives

Goals and success are just concepts. Objectives, however, are very real. The only true way to reach the level of success you desire is to set obtainable objectives in your life. If your goal is to get an A in a college course then make your objective to read every chapter. If your goal is to become a better baseball player make your objective to take 100 ground balls after every practice. Are you getting the idea? Objectives are what bridges the gap between where you’re at now and where you want to be. Objectives put you in motion; they ensure you’re moving towards your goal by breaking it down in to manageable chunks. Set goals in your life, but more importantly set objectives and stick to them. Objectives will get you where you want to go in life.

Most people who reach success have done a great job a sticking to their objectives to get them to that point in their life. However, one of the most difficult things is to stick to your objectives once you’ve reached your goal. Most people welcome in the arrogance and forget what got them to that point in their life. Never forget your objectives.

 The Great Ones

 

 

these two sport giants understand the true meaning of success

these two sport giants understand the true meaning of success

 

 The great ones are the people who have continual consistent success. Michael Jordan won his first three NBA Championships by working hard to become one of the most explosive players in the game. His second three championships were won late in his career after he’d lost a step in his speed. He reset his objectives and focused his game around a new shot, the “fade-away jumper” and dominated the competition in a completely new way.

 Tiger Woods is another prime example of continual success. After winning more major tournaments in his young career than most golfers win in their life times he decided to set a new objective to correct his swing. This wasn’t easy because Tiger struggled for a few tournaments, but all the while he remained committed to swinging his clubs the correct way knowing that it would make him a more consistent golfer in future tournaments. The end result was more major tournament wins including winning the US Open with an injured leg. Most people would be happy with a single major victory but Tiger knew that to keep winning majors he needs to set objectives to develop all aspects of his game.

 Success is Dynamic

Many people have the misconception that success and leadership are the end result of our objectives, but that’s simply not true. With each success in your life you’re stepping through the door for another challenge. Success is dynamic and like you it’s always changing. Understand your talents, identify your weaknesses, create your goals, and follow through with your objectives that will lead to success. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Always repeat.