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Gray matters for leaders

Cara Martens
Cara Martens Monday February 15, 2010
<? echo $type; ?> Gray matters for leaders

Rats! What do rats have to do with being an Orange Leader? Well, recent research on our long-tailed friends has proven that our brain doesn’t grow if we’re stuck in a cage by ourselves. 

There’s usually a lot of focus on how much a child’s brain grows the first five years of life and even some newer studies being passed around about how a teenager’s brain is still forming, which affects their day to day decision-making. (Did you know that brain research in the last 25 years has shown that 75% of what we used to think about our brains and how they function is actually wrong or inaccurate?)

This past summer, I heard a leading neurologist say that in theory- adults can continue to grow as much gray matter as they want as well. So if that’s true, then what gets in the way?

Experts have discovered that we only make new neural pathways if we need them and if we will use them. This unique ability of our brains to change is called “plasticity”—it’s appropriate because we’re continuing to learn and to stretch. I read a lot- not only because I enjoy it- but because it exposes me to new thoughts, that often expand on or even conflict with what I think I know, which challenges me to reflect and think even more!

What kinds of situations cause you to stretch and grow the most? Do you prioritize learning contexts for yourself? How could Orange Leaders help develop this part of you?

Cara Martens can’t help but read, write and dream, so becoming the 252 Basics Creative Director and main researcher for all things Orange is a perfect fit. She taught for a decade in schools and led teams in creating experiences for the church. Cara and her husband, Kevin, are schooled daily by her five- and eight-year-olds on how kids learn best.