Make Your Brain Smarter: A book review by Bob Morris

Make Your Brain SmarterMake Your Brain Smarter: Increase Your Brain’s Creativity, Energy, and Focus
Sandra Bond Chapman with Shelly Kirkland
Free Press/A Simon & Schuster Imprint (2013)

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

We know that the mind is what the brain does. We also know that the brain is a muscle and, like other muscles, can be strengthened substantially by the usual formula for success: proper nutrition, frequent and appropriate exercise, and energy renewal. In this volume, written with the assistance of Shelly Kirkland, Sandra Bond Chapman shares everything she has learned (thus far) about “how the brain best absorbs complex information, learns to think [more] strategically, and innovates at its optimal level. I am determined to help people increase and maximize their brainpower.” Thus her mission in life is to share what she has learned about making the brain “smarter” with as many people as possible.

Throughout human history, great leaders have had a “green thumb” for “growing” other leaders. I am intrigued by what could be accomplished in years and decades to come if all teachers — in both formal and informal education — had a “green thumb” for “growing” the brains and nourishing the minds of those entrusted to their care.

“Brainonomics” is one of the most important terms throughout the book. As Chapman explains, it captures the linkage between cognitive brain potential and productivity, and, financial wherewithal. The term addresses both the high economic costs of low brain performance and the immense economic benefits from maximum brain performance. “Brainonomics represents the attainable benefits of your richest natural resource — for personal, professional, and global gain. Increasing brainpower by even small degrees will produce immense tangible and rewarding intellectual returns on investment.”

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of Chapman’s coverage:

o Five “Myth Buster” Cases (Pages 8-13)
o The Central Command: Frontal Lobe (24-35)
o A Benchmark for Brain Health (38-44)
o Question: Are you able to strategically attend to the tasks at hand? (64-66)
o The Brainpower of None, The Brainpower of One, and The Brainpower of Two (70-80)
o Catapult Your Brain Plasticity (90-92)
o Integrated Reasoning Linked to Strategic Leadership (102-105)

Note: Roger Martin has much of great value to say about “integrative thinking” in his book, The Opposable Mind.

o Creative versus Smart, and, Your Innovative Capacity (108-116)
o Brainonomics of the Immediates (142-144)
o Brainonomics of the Finders (153-158)
o Build BrainHealth Fitness (162-167)
o Increasing Investment in Innovation (180-184)
o Brainonomics of Knowers (189-191)
o Capitalizing on Knower Brainpower, and Brain-Training Exercises (194-201)
o The Power of Plasticity (215-223)
o “Quick Reference to the Nine Brainpowers Discussed in This Book” (247-249)

The “aforementioned “Quick Reference” is among several reader-friendly devices of which Chapman makes masterful use. Others including “Know Brainers” and “What Is X?” sections in most chapters and “Boost your brainpower” in several, beginning in Chapter 4 with “Strengthen Your Strategic Brain Habits.” These and countless other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. She cordially invites her reader to obtain additional tools, tips, and information by visiting 3wdotmakeyourbrainsmarterdotcom.

No brief commentary such as mine possibly do full justice to the quality and value of the material that Sandra Bond Chapman provides. However, I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of her book. Also, I hope that those who read my commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not to obtain and read the book. In that event, I hope what it offers will help them to gain a better understanding of how the infinite resource between their ears can help them to “make their brain smarter” and then help them to help countless others to do so, also.

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