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T.E.A.M. Tuesday Articles 

Return on Intelligence (ROI)

By Justin Simmons - Nov 28, 2023

ROI Brain.jpg

Learning to operate a motor vehicle and achieve one’s driver’s license is no simple task. To do so requires hours of classroom and field preparation, along with a written and driving road test. Add the fact that over sixty percent of people typically obtain their license by the age of 18 and what we find is a propensity for young adults to challenge themselves, all in the name of future independence.

The investment made to drive our first car extends far beyond the financial, yet we don’t tend to give ourselves the credit we deserve. In this moment of critical learning, we muster the confidence to try something new and learn a whole bunch of confusing rules. Then we’re held legally liable to operate a machine for the first time while simultaneously upholding these rules better known as ‘laws’. Such responsibility can be overwhelming but we still find a way to overcome and execute the mission.

Execution of goals is largely dependent on our desire to complete the required tasks but desire isn’t enough by itself. The ability to follow through is predicated on our willingness to learn and apply information toward said goals. By building these skills we effectively gain knowledge, earning us a higher level of intelligence.

The concept of building intelligence is actually quite literal. As we learn, the physical structure of our brain changes in two ways: by creating new neuronal connections or altering existing connections. In either instance, the brain is constantly organizing or reorganizing the way it transfers data. This will also continue into our latest years of life, so the term “too old” doesn’t apply when it comes to learning.

What does apply however is how we’re supporting our brain growth through lifestyle choices. Stress, fatigue, quality of sleep, poor diet, dehydration or sedentary behavior are all examples of areas we should pay ample attention to optimize learning development. Other underlying symptoms might not be as easily adjusted but pose even more reasons to pay proper diligence. Mood disorders, cognitive impairments, depression, or anxiety are all identifiable conditions that will impact the ability to comprehend and retain information.

Even in a perfect environment, there will still be challenges to contest with and everyone performs in different capacities. It’s not realistic to judge your personal development against someone else’s. The trick is to find your ideal process for learning and then improve on that baseline. The more we understand about our strengths, the faster we can build upon our weaknesses.

Building upon what we have already learned is fundamental to education. As children begin school, the main goal of initial classroom learning is simply teaching how to pay attention. Once kids have adjusted to the routine of sitting still, following directions, and basic communication skills, then real comprehension can start. Developing the skills to read, write, and even provide presentations is an exhaustive process. However, if accomplished sufficiently, students will be prepared to enter the world with the ability to provide a future for themselves and inevitably help educate others as well.

Along this educational journey, we will encounter a number of challenges and setbacks. These events are not meant to halt our progress but rather become a point of reference to guide personal growth. As we struggle and learn what that feels like, we will inevitably find ways to push through. Long-term results are dependent on our ability to adapt through educational growing pains.

The amount of time we spend attempting to learn anything has its limits. We need to find a balance throughout our day to avoid cramming which often leads to burnout. Dissecting the strategy of studying, for example, it's suggested that 3-4 hours per day is the most anyone should actively participate. Once exceeding this duration, it becomes harder to retain what you’re trying to learn. Even if additional information is gained in hours 5 or 6, it may come at the cost of a slower retention rate or cause confusion about information previously gained. The key here is to find what works best for you and remain open-minded to better practices not yet explored.

Regardless of best practices, certain subjects will simply hold an individual’s attention more than others. This is a natural occurrence and part of the process of finding our passions in life. Just as some students excel in some classes and not others, the same applies throughout adulthood where we tend to lean into our strengths. Luckily, through our experience in the classroom, we know we’re capable of working through difficult subjects, it might just require more effort. Proving our own self-affirmations and having the confidence to know we’re able to overcome challenges is what allows us to learn the most about ourselves.

The ability to learn from our surroundings and find who we are as individuals is the ultimate return on intelligence (ROI). In the process we will learn much about this life and the different ways to achieve success. As success is imminent, there is no reason to dwell on fears of falling short. Instead, stay focused on ways to expedite the learning curve that impedes success. The more knowledge we gain, the stronger we become at making the right decisions.

Take a moment to reflect on a key point of learning in your life that has made you stronger. Imagine if you knew then what you know now and embrace the value in the lesson. Remember your current vantage point is reflective of all that you have been willing to learn up until this very moment. This includes the risks you were willing to take to allow for these lessons to apply. Today is another opportunity to gain more information and increase your intelligence. Are you ready to discover the power of your mindset?

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