You all know that in recent months and years, I have cut the unnecessary out of my life. Unnecessary habits, unnecessary hobbies, unnecessary objects. I have tried hard to only focus on things that move me towards my goals. When people think deeply about hard topics or difficult ideas they sometimes get the “Ah Ha” moment. I have experienced it, I am sure you have too. I believe this moment comes from a new connection of ideas. We see a new way of thinking about two topics that we haven’t noticed before. A link between the ideas that expand how we understand the interplay between them. It is an awesome feeling when we break through to that deeper understanding, we say Ah Ha!
One of these moments came to me a while ago while I was pondering how to be a better human. I was thinking about the things I like to do and how I can leverage those activities to help propel my career goals. Then boom. The connection was there. At least that is what it seemed like. Our Ah Ha moments seem like they hit us out of nowhere in an instant but that isn’t the case.
Through many months or years, and millions of thoughts, we slowly gain a deeper understanding of the idea that will become our Ah Ha moment.
So, what was mine?
It was the realization that exercise, brain function, and career success are DEEPLY connected.
There were a few events that happened that moved my thinking along most noticeably:
- Reading The One Minute Workout by Martin Gabala
- Stumbling across a youtube video of the Island House Triathlon
- Reading and listening to the hours of content from the blog of Tim Ferriss
The one-minute workout book showed me through an empirical lense just how important rigorous, heart racing, exercise is to a human body and mind. The benefits are shocking and I now believe that elevating my heart rate to a high level as often as possible is one of the most important activities that I can do in my life. It improves many body systems but the most important effect is the benefits on the brain. The book deserves its own post, so here isn’t the place to get into the details. Just know that it was my first domino.
I love triathlon, and when I have a few minutes of free time I like to watch pro triathlon races of all distances. As I was wasting some time on youtube I found a race called the Island House Triathlon. It was a different format than any race I had watched before. It was a three-day race with odd distances every day and the winner the last day won the cash prize. They had the normal divisions of male and female professionals. Then it showed a division of racers strictly for CEO’s. Big time CEO’s from companies we have all heard of. They were amazing. I couldn’t believe how fast some of them were. I thought how could these people have time to be successful in such a high position in their career and train for a race like this. My mind started to see. It was the next domino.
I have been listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast from just about the time he started broadcasting. He is the author of one of the books that continued to open my eyes to the value of reading. He basically states that his job is to deconstruct the processes of top performers so us regular people can improve ourselves by doing what they do. During the interviews, he has a few go-to questions that he asks almost all of his guests. One of those questions is he asks them what they do for their morning routine.
The people he interviews are world class. They are world-class athletes, business people, artist, writers, basically any famous profession. The question about their morning routines elicits many responses, but in my mind, I could only hear one answer. Almost all of them exercise religiously. That was the last domino.
We all know that exercise is good for us, we have heard it all our lives. Not all of us exercise as much as we should or would like. Things get in the way and we put it off or avoid it completely. I have been there as well, however, my thinking was forever changed with my “Ah Ha” moment. I now had these three events that made a connection, here it is…
To be the best (in my career field) I need to think like the best. To think like the best I need my brain to function at its absolute best. Hard exercise has huge benefits on brain function. Therefore I must make it a priority to exercise as often as I can if I am to reap the benefits of optimal brain function and get to the top.
Plus, if all of these successful people are doing it, I am going to do it too. Maybe their success methods will work for me.
So, here I am now, trying my best to elevate my heart rate as high as I can as often as I can to boost my brain power. I am planning on getting a trainer for my new bike before the end of the year. Once that happens I will be able to pound out loads of miles throughout the winter to give myself even more opportunities to have a better brain.
And even if it doesn’t work, I think it is better than the alternative.
If you want to look at some of the evidence for exercise and brain function, or the link between exercise and success check out the links below.