'How-to" business books are stacked knee-high in bookstores and advertisements for motivational seminars continue to multiply through commuter trains.

It seems that many of us are on a desperate quest to hone our mental faculties to ever higher standards, as we aim to stay motivated and focused, keep the creative juices flowing, and even remember the names and faces of all the people we meet.

Of course, such ambitions are easily explained. In today's tough, competitive business environment, people face ever-increasing pressures to think and work smarter, more creatively and efficiently. After all, in terms of physical prowess, we were long ago outmuscled by industrial machinery. And today's computers, with terabytes of memory and light-speed computation capabilities, put the world's geniuses -- just ask a humbled chess champion -- to shame. It seems that the only real edge that humans have left over technology is the ability to dream up better ways of carrying out our tasks and solving the problems that arise along the way.