Friday, January 25, 2019

How Cognitive Agility Helps the Military and Can Help You?

Almost all of us want a smarter brain that can do amazing things. We want to be flexible and capable to understand our world in a way that leads to the highest outcomes possible. Cognitive agility is the ability to bounce in and out of narrow and wide focus thinking. It can lead to greater performance and can be learned throughout our lives.

Lets say you have an outward focus and you have a hard time with details. You would naturally be at a limitation in understanding how something operates. On the other hand, you may have a more narrow focus and love details but have a difficult time connecting larger dots. If you can bounce between the two you have high cognitive agility.

According to a study in Journal of Special Operations Medicine, it is possible to train people on how to move in and out of focus in a way that leads to higher emotional intelligence and powerful decision making (Ross, Miller & Patricia, 2018).  Training people to have higher cognitive ability improves their overall decision making performance.

Why is improved decision making important?

There are lots of reasons from military to business executives to improve cognitive flexibility. The decision maker can focus on the large picture and then narrow in for the details when it is necessary. They are able to change their perspective and analyze the situation from angles others may have a have a harder time transitioning from.

When you are faced with a tough decision focus on the details but then move back and see the bigger picture and problem. If you can analyze the micro and macro aspects of the problem you can choose that decision which leads to the greatest benefits and options.

Ross, J., Miller, L., & Duester, P., A. (2018). Cognitive agility as a factor in human performance optimization. Journal of Special Operations Medicine, 18 (3).

Haupt, A., Quinn, K. Buttrey, S., Miriam, J., et. al. (April 17th) Cognitive agility measurement in a complex environment. TRAC-M-TM-17-021 Retrieved

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