Book Review: The Winner's Brain

By Diane Danielson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

winners-brain.jpgThe Winner's Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success by Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske (with Liz Neporent) intrigued me because it brings up the nature vs. nurture argument. Are some people's brains hard-wired a certain way or, if not, can they be molded or changed? According to the authors, it's the latter.

While this English major didn't appreciate all the neuroscience stuff about the brain as much as I probably should, I'm sure a lot of people will. However, knowing there is some science behind the book makes it a bit more meaningful than the typical self-help book.

The book outlines eight Win Factors, which I list below along with some of the interesting tidbits that jumped out at me as I read.

1. Self-awareness: thinking about yourself to become a winner

Most people have a public and personal persona. "For people who possess a highly evolved sense of self-awareness, these two selves are very close to the same thing. . . . when you narrow the gap between your public and real self, it is easier to read how others experience you. You come across as unafraid to share your real self and are more likely to be perceived as a confident, authentic person."

2. Motivation: cultivating the drive to win

Work on your motivation by "making a checklist of those dull, daily tasks that have started to pile up and then think of a meaningful reason for getting them done: Paying your bills on time helps you keep a close eye on your finances; returning phone calls is an efficient way to network . . ."

3. Focus: locking on to what's important

For speakers: "Right before you are about to give a speech, you might deliberately notice the fabric of the chair you're sitting in or the tone of the previous speaker's voice. You'll find that this helps you gather your focus and turn down the volume on fear, nervousness or any other competing brain buzz."

4. Emotional Balance: making emotions work in your favor

The authors refer to a 2008 study that showed that you could literally "choose happiness" and that this choice often precedes success. "Happy people earn more money, display superior performance and perform more helpful acts compared their more miserable peers."

5. Memory: "remembering" to have a winner's brain

6. Resilience: bouncing back into success

The authors have a nice section on resilience. I have to admit that until a few years ago I thought this was something you were born with. Until it occurred to me that some of us just learned it earlier than others. One of the best skills for learning resilience that the book didn't cover was youth sports. That's where I learned it. Sometimes the best team doesn't win. Sometimes you have a bad coach. Sometimes you get cut from the team. And, yes, sometimes you break a leg so bad that it ends your soccer career in 10th grade. Been there, done all that ..... and still playing even though I qualify for the "really over the hill" leagues.

7. Adaptability: reshaping your brain to achieve

8. Brain care: maintaining, protecting and enhancing your winner's brain

Daily Dose Bottom Line:
An interesting mix of science and self-help, plus the authors sprinkle some great exercises throughout. While some of it may be redundant to other books on these topics, if you are self-aware and emotionally balanced enough to know that you need a little motivation to focus on your resilience, memory and adaptability, then this might be the book you should pick up to help take care of your brain this summer.

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