The Power of Neuroplasticity

How to Train Your Brain for Success

The Power of Neuroplasticity

I’ll never forget my conversation with John (name changed), a middle manager at a prominent company who was struggling at work. Once a rising star, he had hit a plateau and found himself passed over for promotions. Frustrated and beaten down, he scheduled a coaching session with me to seek advice. 

“I just don’t know what to do,” he said hopelessly. “Maybe I’ve peaked in my career.”

I shook my head. “That fixed mindset is what’s holding you back, John. Your brain is capable of amazing growth if you train it the right way.” I told him about an exciting concept called neuroplasticity - the ability of our brains to rewire and adapt in response to experiences. 

Intrigued, John dedicated himself to daily brain training. He stepped outside his comfort zone, practiced key skills, and focused on positive thinking. Within months, he landed a promotion. Neuroplasticity had allowed his brain to continue growing and developing precisely when he needed it most.

What Is Neuroplasticity?

For decades, scientists believed that after childhood, the brain couldn’t change or grow new neural pathways. We were stuck with the connections we had as adults. This concept of a “hardwired” brain has shaped standard practices in medicine, education, and beyond.

But research in neuroscience has revealed that, in fact, our brains remain highly adaptable throughout our lives. Like muscles, our brains can be trained and strengthened. Every time we learn something new, whether studying a foreign language or learning how to code, we activate this neuroplasticity, wiring new neural connections. Through repetition and practice, these connections become more deeply embedded.

Neuroplasticity shows us that, no matter our age, we can overcome ingrained habits, improve skills, and adapt to new situations. The brain’s incredible capacity for neuroplastic change provides a message of great hope: we aren’t static or “stuck” but rather powered by possibility. Just as athletes train their bodies, so can we train our minds.

Practical Strategies to Leverage Neuroplasticity 

Fortunately, practical strategies exist to help us harness the brain’s plastic powers and channel them productively. Here are five powerful and actionable tips:

  1. Challenge Yourself with New Skills

Learning new skills forces the brain to adapt in exciting ways, forging new neural pathways. Pushing beyond our comfort zones - whether that involves studying a new language, learning to code, taking piano lessons or any number of challenges - strengthens connections and promotes further neuroplastic change. These novel skills don’t have to relate to our jobs or typical hobbies; variety and breadth exercise different parts of the brain needed for success.

  1. Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities  

When facing setbacks, it’s easy to get discouraged and fall into fixed mindsets that limit growth. But mistakes are precisely what our brains need to adapt and change. Each time we err, the brain examines what went wrong and updates its wiring to slowly improve. Over time, as we repeat skills, performance continues to refine. Developing resilience and remembering that mistakes signal possibility, not limitation, allows our brains the space needed to leverage neuroplasticity. 

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

In many ways, neuroplastic change follows the adage, “Use it or lose it.” Repeated practice and repetition of skills or thought patterns reinforce neural connections. Over time, pathways grow more robust, strengthening through regular use. Whether you spend 15 minutes daily practicing the piano, dedicate 30 minutes to meditating or develop a habit of positive journaling, choose skills to repeat and embed in your routine regularly. Consistency and patience allow neuroplasticity to take root at its own pace. 

  1. Focus on Positive Thinking

Our mindsets and thought patterns impact neuroplasticity for better or worse. Negative thinking and high stress can impede our brain’s ability to rewire in helpful ways. Alternatively, optimism, possibility, and positive thinking support neuroplastic change optimized for growth and resilience. Seeking purpose and meaning also channels neuroplasticity by reminding our brains why developing new skills matters. Just as physical activity sculpts our bodies, mental “workouts” in the form of positive thinking employ neuroplastic change toward what’s meaningful. 

  1. Prioritize Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Sleep, nutrition and exercise all support healthy neuroplasticity to unlock your brain’s full potential. Quality sleep clears waste accumulating during waking hours, allowing renewed growth and insight. Balanced nutrition provides the building blocks for growing and maintaining brain cells. And exercise boosts blood flow and neurochemicals that bolster plasticity. Developing healthy lifestyle habits establishes the physiological foundation upon which productive neuroplastic change relies.

The Hope of Neuroplasticity

Beyond mundane tasks like learning new software for work, neuroplasticity also changes lives in profound ways. Groundbreaking research has shown the brains of people overcoming depression, anxiety, and PTSD adapted through therapy and medication to forge healthier wiring patterns over time. Neuroplasticity has even allowed people to regain motor skills after suffering spinal cord injuries or strokes, defying expectations. 

These incredible examples showcase our brains’ fantastic capacity for transformation. Neuroplasticity signals possibility where once limitations appeared fixed, offering inspiration for people facing all varieties of psychological, neurological, and practical challenges in work and life. With an open and growth-oriented mindset, we can continue learning as lifelong students, training our brains in ways that unlock possibilities we never imagined.

Putting Neuroplasticity into Action

I think back to my client, John, who rediscovered his own neuroplastic potential for professional growth and success. Like athletes training for gold medals, realizing our brains’ plastic powers allows us to sculpt our minds for achievement. 

So, where will you start? Identify one new skill, thought pattern or experience that interests you, and begin there. Learn a musical instrument, a foreign language, or an artistic hobby - and stick with it through mistaken notes or messy brushstrokes. Or start each morning by writing down three things you feel grateful for. Push yourself intellectually by reading books on unfamiliar topics. However, if you challenge your brain, know that with repetition, patience, and practice, productive neuroplastic change will follow.  

If you need support staying accountable or want personalized coaching tailored to your growth goals, don’t hesitate to reach out. I help professionals and lifelong learners build customized “brain training” regiments that leverage neuroplasticity and focus for sustainable success. Just as our bodies need fitness plans, so do our brains, which need coaching to maximize possibility.

The limits we assume our brains possess are just that – assumed. Neuroplasticity empowers us to defy expectations of achievement and possibility at any age or stage of life. Your incredible brain stands ready to adapt in exciting ways when you provide the proper training to unlock its full potential.

Unlock Your Potential