20 Tips to Becoming a Peak-Performing Business Leader

Even though LeBron James may be the best basketball player in the world, he keeps training to stay on top and to achieve an even better game. Corporate leaders should be mental athletes, too. – Silverstein

1. Rehydrate often: The brain is composed of 75 to 80 percent water, which means that dehydration can affect proper brain functioning. Keep a carafe (a sleek one) of water by your desk so you could constantly rehydrate throughout the work day.

2. Balance your caffeine:  Caffeine heightens awareness but is detrimental to deep thought.  One cup of coffee is great.  Even better: green, white and black teas include a substance called L-theanine which stimulates alpha waves.

3. Determine how much sleep you need and get that quality sleep every night:  It takes one hour of sleep to pay for every two hours of functional wakefulness.  If you remember your dreams, chances are you are sleeping well.

4. Train your working memory:  Think of your working memory as your brain’s desktop.  The more you can keep on your desk for instant access and comparison, the better. Studies have shown that working memory is responsible for at least 25 percent of the variation in fluid intelligence among individuals.  There are a variety of apps, websites and software to help you do this.

Related: How Lumosity and Brain Training Can Help You Build Your Business

5. Increase your stamina by task switching:  Fatigue is a signal you’ve been activating the same neural pathways too long.  If you have reached a point of diminishing returns, switch tasks and be amazed at how much energy you have gained.

Diet tips to boost your brain:

6. Consume choline:  It improves brain speed and memory.  It’s found in almonds, broccoli, egg (with yolk), peanuts and peanut butter.

7. Feed your brain the right fats: These are omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA), and the brain needs a ratio of 4:1 of omega-3s to omega-6s.

But according to a study by Dr. A.P. Simopoulos in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, in Western diets, the ratio of omega-6 (think vegetable-oil fried food) to omega-3 EFA is 15:1, leading to many diseases.

To get omega-3s, look for cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, tuna, and mackerel. Flaxseeds, walnuts, and walnut oil are also good sources of omega-3s. Look for specially marked omega-3 eggs whenever possible. The notion of eggs raising blood cholesterol was disproven years ago, so feel free to eat eggs daily.

8. Choose foods that contain more acetylcholine: The chemical acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that determines your brain’s processing speed found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale.

When your acetylcholine levels are high, you feel creative, but low acetylcholine significantly decreases brain speed, resulting in “brain fog” and “clouded thinking” which is what you experience when your thinking becomes disjointed.

Exercise tips to boost your brain:

Remember that your brain needs lots of energy—it burns 20 percent of your daily calories. Research has shown that the gains from exercise were most dramatic in brain areas critical to learning and memory.

The brain has lots of blood vessels, just like the rest of the body, so that means that exercise will help keep the brain’s blood vessels healthy, too.

9. Remember to exercise. Exercise to remember: Findings such as these have led neuroscientists like Peter Snyder to say that exercise is the best memory enhancer. Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown to create new brain cells in the parts of the brain associated with memory and thinking.

10. Keep your brain guessing: When choosing among different kinds of aerobic exercise, choose a competitive sport or activity that involves movements that you’re not able to anticipate. For example, basketball, tennis, soccer, and even ping-pong are better than golf or swimming, where the movements are much more predictable as opposed to requiring fast reaction.

Tanya Benedicto Klich is a data and lists editor at Entrepreneur.com.

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