Mental Performance

Working hard and smart is often the best path to financial mastery and success. Until recently, working smart meant outfoxing your opponents and using relationships to your advantage. Whether you are trying to sell real estate, invest in the stock market, or get into private equity, your relationships and your education makes a difference.

Now modern technology is bringing factors into play never before seen in the financial world. High mental performers now have the ability to use “nootropics” or cognitive enhancing drugs, in order to get ahead.

We are all aware of performance enhancing drugs through professional sports, but mind altering substances aren’t regulated and they’re helping people make big wins.

Nootropics: From Wall Street to Silicon Valley

A recent article in the Observer discussed the world of smart drugs for Wall Street executives. These executives are taking drugs that allow them to work longer, get more done in their period of work, and perform at a higher level.

For a trader on Wall Street, all of these benefits point towards greater profits. Whether or not their mental health remains the same, they are making a lot of money with nootropics and they aren’t alone.

According to a Guardian article, the world of nootropics is centered in Silicon Valley where the biggest companies in the world are headquartered. If you have ever thought the idea of coding all night long to build a startup and make millions seems like a daunting task, many are facing the challenge with the nootropic drugs.

Particularly popular are smart drugs like adrafinil, which is popular in Silicon Valley and considered the basis for the fictional NZT-48 drug that is in the movie Limitless. Unlike Adderall, it is not an amphetamine based drug and Silicon Valley execs are jumping on the bandwagon.

Of course, there is plenty of work going on that doesn’t include these smart drugs and synthetic compounds. Mental performance is certainly an important factor for many of these successful individuals, but it isn’t always done through drugs. Hundreds of high performers are starting to use things like meditation to enhance their cognitive abilities and even a new kind of butter and coffee combination with coconut oil, which is said to enhance the effects.

Despite social media and the proliferation of information, the process of enhancing cognitive abilities is not a foreign concept. Humans have been doing it for some time.

A History of Cognitive Enhancement

Several thousand years ago, traditional Indian and Chinese cultures were using local herbs and roots to create various elixirs that could increase their performance. Some of them were used to hunt more effectively and others were just to enhance libido, virility, and mood.

In India, the Ayurvedic tradition led to nootropic drugs, such as bacopa monnieri and ashwagandha, which are still used to this day. Children in small Indian villages will be taught to run outside and grab the leaves to eat in order to enhance their mental performance and test scores.

Many traders and effective high performers utilize these types of drugs in order to get ahead. They offer a relatively low-risk option for improving cognition and don’t have the potential for side effects that many of the others have.

The primary mechanism of these natural nootropics is to help reduce anxiety. This often leads to a boost in mental performance, which is what any trader, entrepreneur, or financial executive needs. Imagine trying to make rational decisions when the emotion of fear is constantly sitting beneath the surface. It is nearly impossible to be rational when you are struggling with anxiety and that is the death of anyone in the financial world.

More importantly, these traditional drugs are sustainable. They offer a boost in cognition that may not be at the highest level, but it will not lead to burnout and failure. Many of the people using the highest powered drugs end up unable to keep the pace. They do well for a short period then they start to crash. Similar to the way caffeine works, but on a longer timeline.

When level-headedness and a focused brain are needed for financial success, some of the ancient wisdom is incredibly effective. More importantly, it is sustainable in a way that most high mental performers don’t consider.

The Morality of Getting Ahead

Humans have always tried to get an edge, take a shortcut, and be more competitive than the next person. It is particularly true with males and it is something we largely cannot control. Our biology makes us competitive so that we can mate successfully and pass on our genes. Unconscious to these triggers, we focus all our efforts on being more successful.

Despite this biological truth, we have developed a morality about certain advantages. In sports, this performance enhancement is considered immoral. In the financial world it seems things are more relaxed. At least for now.