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Old 12-22-2004, 03:56 PM   #1
Barry Cooper
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I've been noodling around with a concept for a while, and finally decided just to post it, incomplete, and see what happens.

The Survival of the Fittest paradigm is pretty strong on CrossFit, but it applies primarily to PHYSICAL fitness. As has often been noted, doing the WOD consistently will make you emotionally and mentally tougher, but not necessarily smarter.

Clearly, today the reason human beings rule the animal kingdom is our brains. There are many animals that are stronger and faster than us, but we can shoot all of them. Moreover, we engineer our environments so that any kind of chance meeting is unlikely in the first place.

The survival of the fittest that would seem likely to be going on currently is the survival of the smartest (ignoring "only the paranoid survive", as good a motto as it is).

My concept is this: apply the CrossFit idea to mental functioning. In the same way that the body benefits from consistent but unpredictable and widely varied physical stimulus, the mind ought to likewise benefit.

My problem is fleshing this idea out. One idea I had as an introductory thought exercise was applying the 10 fitness criteria to thinking.

cardiovascular/respiratory endurance--how much thinking you can do over a fixed period; stamina--the ability to concentrate over a period of days or weeks; strength--the total amount of insight you can generate over any period of time; flexibility--creativity; power--the ability to think completely quickly; speed--rote processing and sequencing, like Tetris;coordination--the ability to prioritize, and keep multiple factors in play; agility--the ability to switch from one thinking task to another; balance--the ability to give multiple perspectives equal weight, at least initially; and accuracy--the ability to answer the question asked, and not another.

If this basic question interests anyone, please feel free to tweak the idea any way you like.

Also, Edward de Bono talks about creating Thinking Clubs in his book "De Bono's Thinking Course". The idea is to use heuristic devices like PMI (plus, minus, interesting) to expand the extent and quality of thought. A key part of it, though, is that everything is timed. This would make it amenable to incorporation in a WOD. You could do wall ball shots for 3 minutes, then do a PMI on the idea: "People should be required to wear tags on them at all times indicating their mood." then do another 3 minutes, then do another PMI, etc. The clubs normally have six people, and meet every other week, so it wouldn't be a daily thing.

Anyway, I thought that might be a good idea. Random comments and feedback would be welcomed.
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Old 12-22-2004, 05:01 PM   #2
Paul Theodorescu
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Barry,

You've got some good ideas. I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of mental 'conditioning'. I'm very adamant about perpetual improvement in all aspects of life.

"The survival of the fittest that would seem likely to be going on currently is the survival of the smartest"

I'm not sure to what extent survival is a useful criteria. Success or happiness seem more appropriate.

I've had similar ideas to yours; I've read various brain books which espouse all kinds of mental exercises. I've come to the recent and tentative realization that such exercises are mostly futile. I mean, I could be doing much better things with my time than playing tetris.

Instead of focusing on certain attributes, I think it might be preferable to work on important skills:

Speed Reading
Memorization strategies
Strategies for creativity
Relaxation
Visualization
Vocabulary enhancement
Time management

I think perhaps even more important is the development of social 'skills'. Understanding persuasion, hypnosis, body language, social dynamics.

I'd love to discuss this further.
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Old 12-22-2004, 08:22 PM   #3
Larry Lindenman
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Let me think about this and I'll get back to you. I think there is a connection betweenphysical exercise and mental conditioning which goes beyond the mental toughness aspect. Coordination between left and right sides, spacial awareness, kinestic sense, etc. all have a role in mental development. By the way great posts Barry and Paul. I'll think this through tonight and get back to you.
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Old 12-22-2004, 08:48 PM   #4
Paul Theodorescu
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In "Mozart and the Fighter Pilot" the author says working balance (by standing one leg) challenges the cerebellum.

I think the most important aspect to physical exercise and mental conditioning is improved health. When you feel better and you feel fit it improves your confidence and that helps everything else. It would be interesting if there were more precise benefits as Larry alludes too...I wouldn't be surprised if there were.
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Old 12-23-2004, 02:04 AM   #5
Michael Pearce
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Well, I think that you have the right idea. Humans are not just made up of body; but body, mind, and spirit. Working the body will work the others but not at the fastest rate, you do need to work the other areas as well. Having a strong body is very important to being able to grow mentally and spiritually.
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Old 12-23-2004, 01:57 PM   #6
Ron Nelson
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Barry,
I like what you've proposed here. I think I've actually done all of that. We called it "Law School!":proud: Funny thing is, many of the protocols you mention, we did. Overall, several different analytical skills are called on and used, including an emphasis on lateral thinking. When one is being taught to "think like a lawyer", especially for the Bar exam, one must think outside the box. Originality of thought is prized in the legal universe, unfortunately that aspect of it doesn't always make it to the surface!
Just re-read your post. Yup, that's law school!
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Old 12-23-2004, 02:10 PM   #7
Mike Minium
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Ron,

Isn't the phrase "think like a lawyer" an oxymoron?

I'm kidding--just couldn't help myself.

Not trying to hijack the thread, either. Great stuff so far.

Mike
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Old 12-23-2004, 08:30 PM   #8
Ron Nelson
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Mike,
Niiiiiiiice!
Maybe I should have said, "sense blood in the water like a lawyer!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.
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Old 12-23-2004, 08:45 PM   #9
Rob Smith
 
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Gentlemen,

Great topic! I'm a firm believer in Mind over Body. The body can do anything the mind tells it can. In my military experience (to include combat), I have found myself pushing by body further then I possible could have under normal circumstance, but in a stressed enviroment I have made my body do things I thought I could never do (ie... go without sleep for 5 days straight, go without food for multiply days while still doing physical activity). I think this issue should be further pushed to be added into Crossfit. Another great concept is forming "Master Mind Groups". You guys are awesome for starting this discussion.

Rob
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Old 12-24-2004, 08:15 AM   #10
Barry Cooper
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Are you thinking of "Think and Grow Rich"? It's been a while since I read that. In a sense, this Board would sort of be a Master Mind group, wouldn't it?

I for one would be open to any and all actionable ideas anyone might have, as wild or weird as they might be on the surface.
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