Whether you work from the office or the living room couch, businesses, CEOs, and entrepreneurs of any age and experience need to stay sharp, fresh, relevant, and savvy in today’s corporate world. But how do you stay sharp as a seasoned professional of 25+ years? We think the answer is quite simple: exercise your body & mind. 

As discussed in our summer blog series, physical health is key for CEOs and executives. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet can boost energy levels and improve focus, reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function allowing CEOs to tackle their demanding workload with greater ease and efficiency. Simply put, healthy CEOs have an edge in the business world. But there’s more to staying sharp, fresh, relevant, and savvy than just physical health; it’s essential to exercise the mind. 

The brain is not a muscle in the traditional sense; it is a complex organ that controls all the functions of the body, including thought, memory, and movement. The same way physical exercise can improve muscle strength and function, mental exercise can improve brain function and overall cognitive health. Thus, we have to exercise the brain the same way we do the other muscles in our body. Here’s what exercising the mind looks like in practice:

  1. Read – A commonality of today’s great leaders is that they read — a lot. When asked how he learned to make rockets, Elon Musk answered, “I read books.” Mark Zuckerberg reads a new book every other week. Reading keeps you informed about current events, helps you tap into the wisdom of the world’s leading thought innovators, and is “mental exercise in and of itself. 
  2. Learn – The phrase “you learn something new everyday” is a seemingly overused cliche. However, in order to stay sharp in the business world, you SHOULD be learning something new everyday. Learning keeps us mentally agile well into our golden years, and it’s the hallmark of successful entrepreneurs. Constant learning is the grease we need to stay competitive. Set a goal to learn something new on a regular basis, whether it’s a technical skill, seeking mentorship from peers, or simply getting lost in the written wisdom of others.
  3. Get lost in a hobby – Everyone needs a means of expression. Physical activity like running or skiing may be the answer for some. For others, it may be some form of art. Whatever it may be, approach hobbies with the same zeal as a business venture. You may never attain mastery, but learning a new skill or following a passion can help you develop new neural pathways that will benefit your leadership.
  4. Write – There is a growing belief among successful leaders and entrepreneurs that writing regularly is an important aspect of personal and professional growth. Writing every day allows CEOs to organize and clarify their thoughts, making it easier for them to communicate their ideas effectively to others. By writing about their experiences, insights, and opinions, CEOs can also build their personal brand and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.
  5. Listen – Despite being the leader of the business, being a good listener is a key piece to staying sharp. And it is a skill that must be practiced. Oftentimes the smartest people are deemed to be the best listeners. Why? Smart people understand the value of active and engaged listening. They tend to have a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes empathy and the ability to understand and relate to others’ emotions and perspectives. On a more basic level, smart people are often naturally curious and enjoy learning new things. They understand that by listening carefully, they can gain new insights and expand their understanding of the world. When it comes to your business, are you the one doing all the talking?During meetings, put away your cell phone and any other distractions, and fully focus on the person talking. Turn off the inner voice that wants to rebut or pass verdicts inside your mind.Practice the art of  active and engaged listening.