Leaders who try to get everyone on the same page do more harm than good for your company

2 min read

Managers and leaders often talk about “getting everyone on the same page”. While they think that in is more productive if everyone works in the same way, the opposite is true. The real reason managers and whole companies try to get everybody on the same page is because they are weak and afraid. They think that molding everyone into a set of company values and processes will create a unified army of workers. This way of thinking is advocated by many managers. They believe that people will work better when they are more alike.

By trying to make every think and work alike, you weaken the differences between people. And very often, the differences between people lead to great results. By decreasing differences between people, you also kill creativity and natural flow. The feeling that you have to work in a described way by your manager, makes most of us less motivated.

So the real danger is that when you try to turn people into something they are not, they bring less energy and motivation to the task. Initially people might be enthusiastic about a new direction. You see this effect often with new managers, they believe that their strategy is working. Which is true, but it will not last.

Instead of molding people into something you want them to be, relax and open up to people’s unique visions. As a leader, you can offer your people a framework so they can do their job. For instance, Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to let Jony Ive flourish. Jobs knew better, he had fallen to the tyranny of fearful management by John Sculley. Not able to keep Jobs in check, Sculley made sure Jobs was fired.

Everyone has to be a leader sooner or later. Think of small projects you might have to lead with a handful of people That is enough to demonstrate your leadership. By not being afraid of people’s capabilities and talents, you can let them excel in what they do. This will ultimately lead to better results.

 

 

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How exercise improves the strength of your brain

2 min read

There is a large body of research that shows positive effects of exercise on our brain. In short, neuroscientists have found 2 main improvements. First, exercise improves alertness, attention and motivation. Second, it stimulates the storage of new information in your brain.  In short, exercising will make you smarter.

That is the good news. The bad news is that it takes real effort. There are no magic pills, super effective 2 minute workouts, or other shortcuts. If you want to exercise your brain (your brain can actually increase in size), you have to put in the work. Similar to your muscles, your brain needs training to grow.

What kind of exercise?

Cardiovascular training
Get your heart rate up by running, cycling, or circuit training.

Sports that need motor abilities
Exercise that demands coordination forces your mind to work more compared to jogging. You think of tennis, basketball, or anything else that needs motor skills.

Stretching and Flexibility workouts
Flexibility is often overlooked. Even by people who workout for years.  Stretching, and being more flexible in general, will decrease the risk of injuries. For example, you have more chances of back injuring if you have short hamstrings.

Switch things up. Are going to the gym for 3 times a week for years? Take up Yoga. Are you addicted to spinning class? Hit the weights once per week. The key is to have variety in your exercise routines. This is not only good for your body, but also your mind.

Training Intensity
The real magic happens at higher intensity. This is only recommended for people who are not new to exercising. Starting with high-intensity workouts is harmful if you do not have at least 6-8 months of consistent daily exercise under your belt. Researchers recommend to have at least 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week. If you are new to exercise, start by taking 30-minute walks. Every day. You will start feeling better immediately.

Working out at high intensity (70%-90% of your maximum heart rate), stimulates a lot of dopamine. The same happy chemical that is associated with sex, food, and social interactions. Serotonin is also affected by exercise. This has a positive effect on your self-esteem.

No matter how hard you train, working out at low intensity has benefits. Next time you don’t feel like going to the gym, remind yourself that is the exact reason you are going. You will feel better after your workout. Don’t trust me, trust the science.

 

 

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5 speed reading strategies to instantly read faster

Speed reading helps you to develop your knowledge at a faster pace
5 min read

Do you love reading and learning new things? Or do you have to read many documents for work? We live in a fast-paced world: information is the centerpiece of most of our lives. In our personal life, there are so many things we want to learn. And if you are a knowledge worker, chances are you have to read emails, rapports, and other documents on a daily basis. Multitasking hurts our productivity. And there is so much to read, but so little time, right? That isn’t necessarily true. Speed reading is something that has had a lot of attention in recent years. People are always looking for ways to get things done more efficiently. By learning to speed read you significantly process more information and get things done more quickly. However, with most speed reading techniques, you are required to adapt your natural reading style.

A Google search for ‘speed reading’ yields multiple methods. Most of them revolve eye coordination, reading between lines, skipping words, or visualizing while you are reading. In the past few years, I’ve tried different techniques. I found that it was useful and productive at first, but after 1 or 2 days, I would fall back in my old patterns. For example: moving my eyes super fast didn’t feel natural. Similar to the ‘visualizing technique’: this requires you to visualize every word you read. While I am not questioning the effectiveness of these (proven) methods, I do think that they are not for everybody. The problem is that we are creatures of habit—changing how we read is something extremely difficult because it is something we’ve learned as children. I’ve found five strategies that you can apply, without changing the way you read. These strategies are not focusing on the actual reading technique. But rather on strategies that will improve the time you can finish a book or document. It is not necessarily about words per minute. It is finishing something in less time than before—but still capturing all information.

5 ways to read faster

The biggest obstacle that stands in most of our’s way is the misconceptions we have about reading. We believe that we have to read every single word in a book, article, or document to understand it. We simply do not have the time to read every single word—it doesn’t matter how fast you read. We believe that we have to memorize everything because of pressure from school—we had to remember everything because we had exams. Trying to remember everything you read is a waste of time—we forget the material that our brain stores in it’s short-term memory after a couple of days. So it is time to get rid of a few misconceptions and hack your reading methods.

1. Learn the ‘art’ of skipping

Our brain can understand concepts without having to read a full book or article. By knowing ‘what’ to skip, you can read a book faster while obtaining the essential information. Once you’ve read a few non-fiction books, you know the structure. Understanding the outline will help you to skip non-essential parts. For example, start by preview the whole book (you can also do this for rapports, blogposts, et cetera). Read the first few introductory paragraphs to grasp the message of the book. Next, read the subheading, titles, and subtitles. Then, read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. This method will help you to comprehend the text faster. This strategy will give you 40 percent of the vital information.

2. Direct your thoughts

One bad habit is daydreaming—we think about the weirdest things when we are reading. Our mind wanders off on a tangent. Daydreaming is something that everybody does—there is no point in stopping it. Instead: turn it into something that helps you with comprehension. Next time you catch your mind wander, direct your thoughts towards the subject you are reading about. Connect the words you are reading with real life experiences. For instance, when you are reading about ways to deal with stress, think of a period when you had a lot of stress. In this way, you allow your brain to create connections, which will make it easier to remember.

3. Stop subvocalizing while you read

When we read, we mouth along to the words. At this rate, you read 150 words per minute, which is the same as your talking speed. Research shows that your brain can process up to 400 words per minute. By stopping the habit of mouthing the words, you can increase the number of words you process by 200%! One easy trick to stop subvocalizing is to focus on keywords and to skip the rest. Try to put this in practice and catch yourself when you are mouthing the words you are reading.

4. Set a goal

Set a goal for what kind of information you want to walk away with after reading something. Ask yourself: Why am I reading this? Why do I need this information? How can I use it? If you are in college and you have an exam on a subject: focus on the parts that the lectures covered. When you are reading a book on exercising, and you want to walk away with a fitness routine: read the parts that include the different fitness routines. You don’t have to discard the rest, but at least you can prioritize your reading. Also, if you do not know exactly why you are reading something, DON’T!

5. Capture the most important information

It is true that we don’t have to remember everything, but at the same time, we want to remember the important matters. That’s why we need a retrieval system that will help us to retrieve the information when we need it. See it as a backup of your brain. Setting up a retrieval system is very personal—some people prefer writing down knowledge in their notebook, others prefer taking pictures. Do whatever works best for you. For example, I prefer Evernote because it works similar to how our brain works. When I read a book or article, I highlight the most important things. When I finish a book, I go back to my highlights and take pictures with Evernote. When I need to retrieve the information I can use Evernote’s search function, which also recognizes text from images. Having a retrieval system also takes away the pressure of memorizing information.

Conclusion

Most people don’t think of reading as fun. However, gaining knowledge is essential for your growth. It is true that you can learn in different ways, and you should focus on ‘how’ you learn best (video, audio, text). But the truth is that we cannot completely avoid reading. So make it easier for yourself to learn things faster. Finally, take a break every 30 minutes. Research shows that the human brain can only focus on one task for a short amount of time. Give yourself a break from reading and try to read every day. If you keep it up, you’ll be substantially smarter within no time.

 

 

Thanks For Reading!

 

I’m Darius Foroux—an entrepreneur, author, and podcaster.

I publish weekly articles on overcoming procrastination, improving productivity, and achieving more. Never want to miss an article?

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