BOOKWORM: Book allows readers to take a peak under the hood of success

“The Winner’s Brain” by Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske (with Liz Neporent), c.2010, DaCapo Press, $25, 226 pages.

Your colleague is kicking your tail.

Nobody can touch him; he’s like a non-stop Super Hero. He outsells you, outperforms you, outdoes everything you do. He even outwits you sometimes and though you hate to whine about it – what’s with this guy, anyhow?

Looks like your colleague has harnessed the power of what’s in his cranium and as Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske (with Liz Neporent) write in “The Winner’s Brain,” you can do it, too.

As you’ve probably noticed with that tail-kicking colleague, a winner’s brain doesn’t work like other brains. Winner’s brains can tune out distractions. They can adapt with what seems like a click of a switch, and they do it all so effortlessly.

According to the authors, there are five traits that set notable people apart from the rest of us. The traits – called BrainPower Tools – are Opportunity Radar (ability to spot opportunity); Optimal Risk Gauge (ability to assess good and bad risk); Goal Laser (honing in on goals); Effort Accelerator (ability to boost effort quickly); and Talent Meter (recognition of talent or lack thereof).

But before you start feeling discouraged, remember there is good news. If your BrainPower Tools are weak, you can strengthen them with eight strategies:

Know who you are with Self Awareness. Once you know who you are, you can better understand others and be more authentic.

“Make your own good fortune” with motivation, but keep in mind that rewards sometimes backfire.

Cultivate the ability to narrow your focus and learn to be patient. Good things really do come to those who wait.

Learn to achieve emotional balance by recognizing emotions in yourself and others. That helps you gain empathy.

Use your senses to enhance memory. Surprise trick: point at what you want to remember. Actions help the brain retain.

Embrace Resilience and Adaptability. They help you bounce back no matter what life throws at you.

And finally, don’t forget brain care. Feed your brain by eating right; staying active, surprising yourself, inspiring your brain, getting a good nights’ sleep, and yes, having a little caffeine.

I had mixed feelings about “The Winner’s Brain.”

Brown (a cognitive-behavioral psychologist) and Fenske (a neuroscientist) give their readers an easy-to-grasp tour of the brain and its basic functions, as well as a wealth of exercises to help grow neurons and “re-route” them as needed. In that regard, the hard-science approach that this book takes is useful to anyone who strives to overcome modern adversity in business.

As I was reading this book, though, I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d read it before. And therein lies the problem: “The Winner’s Brain” is a lot like all the other books in this genre. Yes, it’s helpful but no, nothing here screams “NEW” to me.

If you’re not overloaded with “your brain at work” books, this is an excellent introduction to the subject. But if you’ve already read two or three books of this ilk, “The Winner’s Brain” is just going to make you whine.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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