5 Smart and Proven Ways Leaders Sharpen Their Minds


As a leader, your mind is your powerful tool. Your muscles won’t help you figure out what your target market is, or how you should innovate your product.

It’s up to your brain to get things done, so it’s in your best interest to keep it sharp and flexible.  Here are a few ways you can do that.

5 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp

  1. Sleep

The simplest options are often the best ones. Getting enough sleep is an easy solution to a seemingly complex problem. Your brain slows down when you don’t have enough sleep. It’s also more resistant to new things, which limits your learning. This can impact your leadership ability significantly.

Plenty of problems arise from failing to get enough sleep. You could work drowsy, but anything you learn or do during that time is effectively useless. If you’ve ever decided to put off your current task because you’re just too tired, you’ve experienced this. If pushed, you could roll the dice and hope what you get done is up to par.

It’s best to just get rest when you can – seven hours of sleep a day is often enough, but each person is different. Find what’s best for you.

  1. Add Brain Food to Your Diet

You are what you eat, and if you eat smart food, it’ll work out in the long run. For example, eating fish before a meeting may not close the deal, but it will help your mental performance.

You’re looking for food rich in iron, such as eggs and meat. These foods can help improve your concentration and improve your IQ. Whole-grain bread and cereal can help you think faster thanks to vitamin B1.

It doesn’t end there. Blueberries and acai berries are full of antioxidants, which can help stave off the detrimental effects of free radicals. Fish and nuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it easier to deal with depression and improve cognition.

All of these are important to you as a leader. There’s a lot to deal with, both in terms of information and stress – you need the proper fuel to burn.

  1. Do Things Outside Your Routine

Habits are good. Habits create the consistency required to succeed as a leader; however, they’re not perfect. The more habits you have, the more restricted your mind becomes. Stepping out of your comfort zone every now and then improves your cognitive functions.

Keep in mind that what you do should be active. Listening to a new kind of music does help, but not as much as going out and doing something unfamiliar. The unfamiliar forces your mind to explore new avenues. You might even find a new passion or hobby. If you’re really lucky, you could find inspiration for a new innovation.

  1. Stay Fit and Exercise

Your mind may be your most powerful tool as a leader, but your body has an effect on it as well. Be unhealthy or out of shape, and you’ll get tired faster. The long hours required to run at a high level of leadership will take a toll. Eventually, you’ll either be too fatigued or sick to get anything done.

Keep moving. Your mind is only as strong as your body allows. Take the time to exercise regularly. Even taking a quick fifteen-minute walk can do wonders for your cognitive abilities. In addition, regular exercise can help deal with anxiety and depression, two things many leaders are familiar with.

  1. Laugh More

Laughter may not literally be the best medicine – that award probably goes to penicillin – but it’s not without its merits.

It may seem silly, but smiling and laughing can help expand your mind. Even just watching a short comedy video can lift your spirits enough and clear your thoughts. That’s not to say you should call a meeting just to have your staff watch a funny cat video, only that laughter should be part of your routine.

If you’re having trouble focusing on work, take a break and watch something funny. Talk to your friends and joke around. While you can’t fully control your moods, you can manipulate your environment to generate the mood you need.

Take Control

A weak-minded leader is no leader at all. If you can’t keep your mind sharp, you’ll eventually fall behind. The competition will keep improving, and you’ll keep wondering why you can’t keep up. Fortunately using even just one of these methods should improve your mind. Laugh, eat smart, sleep enough – take your pick, or use all of them. It’s your choice.

What are some practices that you use to keep your mind healthy, active, and sharp?

Larry Broughton is an award-winning hotelier and entrepreneur, CEO, Best-Selling Author, keynote speaker, and former US Army Green Beret. As Founder and CEO of Orange County, California-based broughtonHOTELS, CBS News has called Larry “the nation’s foremost expert on leadership and entrepreneurship,” while the host of Travel Channel’s hit show, Hotel Impossible, says he is, “among the top hospitality experts in the country.” His upbeat, creative approach to business and life has been featured in newspaper and magazine articles across the country and he has been a recurring guest expert on news and TV programs on every major television and cable network, including MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, CBS, and Travel Channel. Larry’s awards include: Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year®; the National Veteran-Owned Business Association’s Vetrepreneur® of the Year; Coastline Foundation’s Visionary of the Year; and Passkeys Foundation’s National Business Leader of Integrity.