Mind-teasing puzzles that claim to improve brain power are a popular feature on social media, and for good reason – people like to test their wits and earn bragging rights among their connections.
Here’s one to get you thinking (the answer is listed below at the end of the article):
How did you go?
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
While activities like this may seem trivial, they are actually exercising your grey matter – which is pretty important. As we age, we tend to experience absent-mindedness and at times can be slower to recall things, and exercises like this can help offset these symptoms.
According to research published in Everyday Health, your brain – like any muscle – can atrophy if you engage in a lot of passive activity (eg. watching too much television), and don’t challenge it regularly.
Another way to boost your brain power is to engage in continual learning. Unlike completing the odd brain riddle, undertaking a program in which you learn something new and make new associations contributes to neuroplasticity.
While by no means a new topic, there has been much media interest and research into neuroplasticity in recent years, which refers to the new neural pathways or ‘connections’ your brain makes to retain information and sustain the knowledge and lessons gained from your experiences.
What it means for your business
Kosmas Smyrnios, Professor of Family Business Entrepreneurship at RMIT University, agrees that it is important to continually push your boundaries to maintain mental sharpness.
“It is essential you keep learning and challenging yourself,” he says.
Moreover, Smyrnios suggests that in-depth learning can provide a means of applying more practical theory to boost your business.
“When it comes to a postgraduate degree, you’re really taking things to a greater depth, and you’re also learning how to analyse situations more deeply, rather than just relying on Dr Google for everything,” Smyrnios says.
Smyrnios points out that a more conscious awareness of one’s environment – something that arises from undertaking higher education – can help entrepreneurs and business people become more resilient and adaptable to inevitable market disruption.
“We know that there’s so much more turbulence within the business environment. We saw that with the volatility that occurred just recently with the stock market decline in the US,” Smyrnios says.
“We’re seeing that level of volatility happening more frequently these days, and so people need to have the skills to deal with that. And undergraduate courses don’t teach it.”
The need to assess various local and global issues and apply practical solutions draws on a postgraduate student’s ability to rely on evaluating competing factors and applying metacognition, the awareness of one’s own thought processes.
“The meaning of things is really important as well as being able to hypothesise. What might be the consequences, the implications?” Smyrnios says.
“You need the breadth,” he states.
Similarly, Smyrnios says that further education can provide businesses with the means to apply practical theory to boost their business.
“For example, from a business perspective, sensing economic trends … being able to sense and predict what might be the risks. And with that comes how to deal with any risks. Linked to risk management, one could add business courses that might deal with project management.”
Smyrnios stresses that committing to ongoing learning and brain development not only has potential business benefits, but it also benefits a person’s mental fitness.
“These capabilities are not directed purely at careers or business, but they also assist individuals in their day-to-day life,” Smyrnios says.
“This is where lifelong learning or continuous education is just essential.”
Brain teaser answer: 15
Whether you’re looking to enhance business success, lead exceptional teams or manage innovative projects, RMIT will give you the skills, knowledge and qualifications you need to reach your career goals sooner, without putting your life on hold.