Todd Halterman wrote a piece, This Is Your Brain on a Motorcycle, pulling together results of numerous studies involving cognitive functioning, with a particular focus on riding motorcycles. A notable difference was found between the control group, and those riding to work daily for two months.
Motorcycling is healthy for you. Simply thinking about it stimulates your brain.
As a motorcyclist I can say, yes, that’s true. You know you’re a motorcyclist, if you go stare at your bike in the garage more than once during Winter. Odds are, the studies’ organizers could have saved a lot of money: motorcyclists already know the truth :).
Seriously though, what I found most telling is that the parts of your mind you use more, grow. Parts left unused, shrink.
Sharon Begley, of Train Your Mind—Change Your Brain, concurred:
“The brain devotes more cortical real estate to functions that its owner uses more frequently and shrinks the space devoted to activities rarely performed,” Begley wrote. “That’s why the brains of violinists devote more space to the region that controls the digits of the fingering hand.”
Should we expect it to be any different for others? Say, for Leaders? There has been an age-old debate about leadership. One side believes you are either born with leadership skills, or you are not. The other side believes the skills can be learned.
Personally, I’m in the latter camp. Leadership does require certain basic components to your personality. But to become a good, effective leader, you need to practice. And as the studies are showing, the more you work at something, the more your brain changes to support the activity.
The moral of the story: To be a good leader, you need to continually work at it.