Seven Ways to Access Peak Performance
Susan Dunn, M. A.
1. Practice. Obviously if you want to learn to play the
piano, you have to practice, but studies show that mental
practice may be as important as physical practice. Visualize
yourself performing the act you have in mind perfectly, and
you'll come closer to it. Mental rehearsal can improve your
self-confidence and your attitude toward what you want to
do is very important.
2. Studies show that emotion plays a part in learning and
memory. A basic example of this is touching a hot stove--it
hurts, so you tend to learn it immediately and forever. Anxiety
is another emotion that makes a difference, because if you're
anxious you can't concentrate well. It stands to reason, therefore,
that increasing your emotional intelligence (EQ)--your ability
to handle your emotions and those of others--will affect your
ability to learn and to perform.
3. Also learn to control your self-talk; it's crucial in your
ability to learn and to perform. If you start out saying "I
can't do this" or "I hate this" it's going to affect your
ability to assimilate new information and to perform.
4. Strengthen your 'brain muscle' with exercise. Try HappyNeuron
for some happy stimulation. Try new things. Work puzzles and
mazes. Increase your reaction time.
Increase your flexibility by broadening into areas you aren't
familiar with. Drive to work a new way. Dip into a field you
know nothing about. Talk to someone you ordinarily wouldn't
talk to. Learn a new language. 'You don't know what you don't
know' so expand into those areas and find out what you really
Use it or lose it; your brain needs stimulation and new things.
When you learn something new, you're actually forming new
pathways. Give yourself plenty of "brain food." Take a course.
Learn a new motor skill. Keep yourself out and about. Be open
to trying and learning new things. Learning something new
makes it easier to learn something new! And do the 'meta-practice'--practice
adjusting to new things. Get the right kind of stimulation
from people, and the converse is also true -- some people
provide a negative drag. Avoid them.
Work out both sides of your brain. Traditional study will
improve the left-brain--analytical, logical and reasoning.
Music, art, poetry and myths will work out the right-brain.
You need both, and you need good communication between the
5. Use music. We've all heard about the "Mozart effect." The
validity of listening to Mozart hasn't exactly been proven,
but we do know that music can soothe us (new age) and hype
us up (rap). Experiment! It's certainly good for the right-brain.
6. Certain drugs can increase oxygen flow to the brain and/or
increase blood flow, but they should be used judiciously as
some can be harmful or lethal. The results still aren't in
yet on St. John's Wort for depression, or gingko biloba for
Alzheimer's disease. Stay up on the research and check it
7. Practice extreme self-care. What you eat and how you exercise
affect your brain just as they affect every other organ in
your body. We know that aerobic exercise can improve scores
on some types of creativity tests. It will also, of course,
improve your self-confidence to exercise, eat right and be
in top shape. Build up reserves of energy and get enough sleep.
Give your brain a break!
Remember that it works if you work it.
Susan Dunn, M.A., Clinical Psychology, is a personal
and professional development coach specializing in emotional
intelligence. Email her for her free ezine.
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