|The Great Social Tweet
By Brian Swinden
Brian Swinden is the Owner of Brian Swinden Productions Winnipeg, Canada
Dr Brian Monger
All of us would like to increase our mental brain power. The following memory techniques will help you do it.
The brain wasn’t designed to remember abstract symbols like numbers and miscellaneous facts. However, if you can translate those symbols into vivid visual images and associations, even the dullest list of dates can become as memorable as your own telephone number. The key is to develop a system that allows for quick encoding and easy recall.
We’ll start with the basic techniques and then move on to the more advanced ones. Although the more advanced techniques do take a bit more practice, they also deliver bigger benefits, so don’t write them off too quickly. With practice, you can become a memory master.
One of the most common memory techniques is the use of acronyms. This technique uses an easily remembered word whose first letters are associated with the list of items that need to be remembered. Pilots use these extensively to run through essential checklists during flight time.
An example would be:
ROY G. BIV: the colors of the visible spectrum Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
Keep in mind that associations which are exaggerated, absurd, humorous, and involve all five senses are much easier to remember than normal ones. We remember emotionally charged events much better than boring ones.
Chunking is one of the oldest memory techniques. Using this method, the items to be memorized are divided into small chunks or groups. Chunking is especially helpful for memorizing telephone numbers, ID numbers, etc.
For example, if you want to memorize the number 411645754, then split it up into small groups: 411, 645, 754. You can then memorize each group by rote. By dividing the larger number into smaller subsets, it will be much easier to commit the number to memory.
When using this technique, it is also helpful to make connections and associations among the different chunks and numbers.
For example, if you want to memorize a grocery list, you should group each of the items into related categories. So, one chunk or group might be composed of oranges, apples, and pears, while another chunk is made up of vegetables.
An acrostic is a memory technique that uses a made up sentence or poem with a first letter cue. The first letter of each word is a cue to an idea you need to remember.
One example is:
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (PEMDAS).
This acrostic represents the sequence in solving or evaluating math equations. Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction
4. The Method of Loci
The Method of Loci is a memory technique that dates back to ancient Greek times when orators, philosophers, and others had to rely on memory for memorizing speeches and knowledge in general. This was essential seeing that the printed book wouldn’t come around until approximately two thousand years later.
Therefore, they invented the Method of Loci. This memory technique involves associating information you want to remember with specific locations, also known as loci.
These locations can be points along a journey or objects in a room. The ancient Greeks not only created rooms, but entire palaces and cities to remember lots of information.
According to Wikipedia,
“In ancient advice, the loci were physical locations, usually in a familiar large public building, such as a market or a church.
To utilize the method, one walked through the building several times, viewing distinct places within it, in the same order each time. After a few repetitions of this, one should be able to remember and visualize each of the places in order reliably.
To memorize a speech, one breaks it up into pieces, each of which is symbolized by vivid imagined objects or symbols. In the mind’s eye, one then places each of these images into the loci.
They can then be recalled in order by imagining that one is walking through the building again, visiting each of the loci in order, and viewing each of the images that were placed in the loci, thereby recalling each piece of the speech in order.”
To create your own mental journey, you must first select the path you wish to use. Be sure to choose a location that has the same number of locations as the number of chunks in the information you wish to memorize.
Take a mental journey through the selected path. You should be able to recall the specific order of the locations without trouble.
Now it’s time to associate this new information with each location along your chosen path. If you want to memorize the presidents, then you might take a mental journey through your school. In the first room, you could have George Washington in an astronaut suit and cutting firewood. In the second room you could have John Adams break dancing in front of the classroom. And on and on until you have completed all 43 presidents.
Remember, emotion and exaggerated associations are the key to memory.
5. The Image-Name Technique
Here’s an excellent (but simple) memory technique for remembering names.
All you have to do is make up a relationship between the name and the physical characteristics of the person’s name you are trying to remember.
For example, if you were trying to remember a person by the name of Tom, you might associate their name with the person you went to prom with who was also named Tom. In this instance, you are making the connection between Tom and prom (rhyming) and between someone you previously knew from high school.
If you want to remember the name Sally, you might imagine them in a ballet. This association will help you remember their name because of the visual imagery and the connection between the “closely related” words that almost rhyme: Sally and ballet.
By making connections, you are instantly more likely to remember their name the next time you see them.
6. Mind Mapping
One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.
Associations are also one of the best ways to improve your memory. To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly look for associations that connect new ideas and knowledge with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.
Association is the primary method that memory champions use to win international memory competitions. If you want to enhance your mental abilities, then association is one skill that you will definitely want to practice.
Mind mapping is one of the best ways to practice association.
“is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea.”
Mind maps have been used for centuries to aid in learning, brainstorming, memory, and problem solving.
To start creating your own mind map, simply get out a piece of paper, multiple colored pens, and begin drawing a handwritten mind map that connects a variety of ideas and concepts to a central key word or idea. The simple act of using your hand for thought can really get the brain going.
7. Write an Article
One of the best ways to learn a topic is to start writing about it yourself. This forces you to clarify your thoughts and dig a bit deeper into the topic at hand.
By expressing the core ideas in your own words, you will gain a much deeper understanding of the topic.
Explaining a topic to others will help you to “really” understand the matter because teaching something to others requires a completely different level of insight.
Think about it. If you had to teach a class, wouldn’t you make sure that you understood the material even better than the students. Take on the role of an instructor and you will find yourself gaining a much deeper understanding of the topics you study.
8. Peg words
Peg words are extremely powerful, but it does take some time to learn how to use them. However, once you master this technique, you can probably cut your studying time in half.
The use of pegs goes all the way back to the seventeenth century and Henry Herson. He came up with a list of ten objects that physically resembled the number itself. For example, the number 1 was represented by a candle. Number 8 was a pair of spectacles.
Peg words essentially become “hangers” or pegs on which you can hang different items that you want to remember.
This system works by pre-memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent. To begin, you can connect simple objects with the numbers 1-20. Those objects form the “pegs” of the system.
Once you have created a list of words for each number, you can then begin using your peglist to quickly memorize a list of objects.
For example, let’s say you want to memorize a grocery list of 10 items. To begin, you would need to make a peg list for the numbers 1-10. Here’s an example:
1- pencil 2- shoe 3- phone 4- door 5- book 6- basketball 7- hat 8- radio 9- car 10- barn
Now, you must associate the groceries on your list with each of your peg words. Remember that your associations must be exaggerated and filled with emotion in order to make them easy to remember. Here are some examples of how you could associate the grocery list with each of the peg words:
1- tomatoes – Visualize an army of pencils attacking a field of overgrown tomatoes. 2- grapes – Visualize your favorite TV character stomping through a big barrel of grapes with bright white shoes. 3 – cereal – Visualize opening your phone and having your favorite cereal start shooting out of the mouth piece.
Get the idea?
Once you have created your list of peg words, you can use them over and over again to memorize a variety of different lists.
You could use the peg system to memorize the Presidents of the United States, the periodic table, or the state capitals.
When creating your peg words, it’s best to use tangible things or objects for each peg word because objects are easier to associate other items to.
Also, make sure that you don’t use similar peg words for different numbers. For reference, always keep a full list of the peg words close by. In fact, putting this list in your wallet or purse is one of the best places. This way, you will always have access to the peg system.
At first, you may find it difficult to come up with the creative, illogical, and exaggerated associations that help you remember more. It comes with practice. However, once you have mastered the technique of association, you will find that you have also increased your creativity and problem solving skills at the same time. The key to creating good associations is thinking like a child again. Let your mind wander past the limitations created out of what we now know as “adulthood”.
Visualization is an extremely powerful memory technique. However, visualization doesn’t just improve memory. It can also help reduce stress, improve sports performance, and increase your motivation.
Create descriptive pictures of your possible future and move yourself towards it. Visualize your next sports event or public speech to improve your performance.
When studying history, play out visual renditions in your mind of historical events that you want to remember. Imagine the smells, sights, and sounds of Gettysburg or the excitement and unity created by Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. By visualizing history with mental replays, you are much more likely to remember them in detail.
When it comes to rote memorization, flash cards are my favorite memorization tool. Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. They are especially useful for learning new vocabulary or even a new language.
One of the biggest benefits of flashcards is their portable nature. They allow you to study anywhere at any time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the bus, stuck in traffic, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.
To create effective flashcards, dedicate one point to each card. For example, you could put a vocabulary word on one side and the definition on the other side. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself until you have mastered all of the concepts.
Considering that memory is such a fundamental skill, it’s surprising that schools don’t teach us more about how to learn and use our memory to its optimum potential.
Our mind, just like the rest of our body, needs continuous exercise and training. Those who think they have a poor memory actually just have an untrained memory.
Just reading this article won’t improve your memory. A good memory comes from practice. Find something new and exciting to learn. Start testing out these methods as soon as possible.
You could learn how to fly, learn a new language, photography, or even investing.
When you have mastered these memory techniques, the world’s knowledge is yours to discover.
Part of a Discussion started by Dr. Brian Monger
Brian Monger LinkedIn Profile – http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=28112234&authType=name&authToken=IRUg&trk=anet_mfeed_profile
Success and Failure Discussion – The Harvard Business Review group on LinkedIn
Aditya Madiraju • “Isn’t it time you learned how to treat failure differently? Isn’t it time you changed how you’ve been changing?” —
“Geeze this is not the plan I have invested in” – that is what I call failure. In general there are 4 types of failures — cognitive; social; financial and spiritual. In my experience the social failure that bites the most.
Dr. Brian Monger • If you are afraid to fail, don’t start?
Dr. Brian Monger • If you are afraid to fail – overcome your fear and start anyway?
Anthony M. • Thanks for the post Brian. The ideas around failure, what it means, how do we process it and can vs. should it be avoided are really interesting (there is similar discussion on the fourm and it’s insighful to see the diverse opinions and what it means for organisations)
There is a book by Michael Roberto called ‘Know What You Don’t Know – How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen’. In the book there is a chapter titled ‘Encouraging Useful Failure’ which explores this concept really well using case studies. In here it takes about what failure is important and the costs of culture that doesn’t deal with failure well.
‘Built to Last’ by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras also has some great discussion, with case studies, around this idea.
As someone once recently point out to me this ides is (or at the very least was) very popular in the ICT sector – where the mantra of silicon valley is ”Fail often, fail early, fail cheap”.
Someone once said to me the mantra of those who use failure
Dr. Brian Monger • Good comment. No-one knowingly sets out to fail.
Robert Pratt • My experience is full of failures as well as successes. I personally think a person can not really taste either, without having tasted the other. Probably, they last about the same amount of time. However, failure always seems to be eternal when it really is not.
The best way for me, (and I have to remind myself constantly) is to treat failure as a bad dream, and forget it as soon as I am awaken.
Anthony M. • What if by forgetting we also forget what we have to learn?
Robert Pratt • Is there a need to get burned twice to know what fire does? But, also there is also no need to be afraid of fire. Fire, has many uses and benefits. I do not know if I am making any sense. Failure = Fire. It has its good use, but if you stay to close for too long well, you will be well done. Same goes for failure if you let it stick to you, it will drag you down.
Anthony M. • Thanks Robert. We could be talking about two different things. I don’t find the idea of equating fire to failure helpful – it seems to imply we should be afraid of failure and try to avoid it because it is somehow painful, could lead to harm or other form of discomfort. If this was idea then progress and achievements made by people from James Dyson (5126 prototypes for his vacuum cleaner), Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Michael Jordon and many others wouldn’t never of happened. (See the link below – great list)
Maybe this is not what your saying though – are your implying we shouldn’t let our past failure be barriers to us achieving in the future. Don’t get bogged down in the past so to speak or let fear of failure adversley impact our future decisions? Or worse still choose to repeat our past mistakes not learning the right lessons from the first time.
Robert Pratt • Exactly to the second paragraph. I think of failure as a great teacher, but as students we should surpass the teacher. Learn from it, not dwell on it.
Aditya Madiraju • Brian, I think failure stems from 2 facts – not being upfront somewhere at the beginning and covering one lie with another. As long as these 2 are taken care of. I think failure is just a matter of “agreeing to disagree”.
We have to give the person the option to articulate their reasons. Only way to learn from mistakes.
Dr. Brian Monger • I think there is a phrase – success has many fathers while failure is an orphan
Aditya Madiraju • @Anthony, Many take waiting times as a proxy for failures. In my part of the world capital is such a scarce resource, people make ridiculous tradeoffs.
Hi Brian – I agree that is a popular saying most would have heard. The big question for each of us then is to we proscribe to it or do we own our failures. Even if it means we are the ‘only father’ so to speak.
Aditya Madiraju • Instead of going to Harvard AMP, they go to a less branded AMP 🙂
Dr. Brian Monger • I am always amused when reading the case studies of successful companies/people. Rarely tells us of the original plan, the many failures. I think most case studies are filled with lies really.
Dr. Brian Monger • If one studies battles, you will note that they rarely went to plan.
Anthony M. • If you look at the case studies in ‘Built to Last’ and ‘Good to Great’ they’re littered with the companies failures and there rarely is a grand methodical plan. More like a general idea followed by trying a whole pile of different stuff until they found what worked well.
Rashid Basheer • Success is learning to deal with failures, but to fall for the same mistake someone else has fallen for is not the right idea. We need to fall for new mistakes and failures so that the failure brings value to us. We neednt find something, others have already found. Learn and add value to the world, not merely learn.
Georgi Paleshnikov • Nice article, Brian.
Seems we are on the same wavelength on this issue. In another nice thread in this group, namely “Self confidence is it nature or nurture?” by Peter Gerlach, some of the followers, including me, express the same idea.
Failures are inherent in all spheres of human activities – both personal and professional. The way you deal with them determines your path in life.
We all speak mainly of successes and failures are not that much discussed, if they do not become a public issue, i.e. affect large groups of individuals. I think we would all agree that success is generally a chain of failures. Strangely though, our society rewards success and punishes failure as a rule. Isn’t this a peculiar paradox?
Georgi Paleshnikov • Success and failure are a strange though common duality, like good and bad, ugly – beautiful and many other things.
Just to finish my previous comment, I will cite an old Roman thought which says:
Ut vincas, disce pati, ut vivas, disce mori.
In order to win, learn to be patient, in order to live, learn how to die.
Everyone is free to make his conclusions.
Aditya Madiraju • @Rashid, in corporate world one can find fall guys. So at least experience provided has to be different even if the reason is similar.
Naela Blosh • we many not normally look upon failure as a good thing, but it is!! Of course, we don’t wish failure upon us , but if we do fail, there are just so many things that we can learn from it. Failures always teaches a person valuable life lessons. It prepares us better and makes us a more complete person. If we look back at our many failures, we would realize that had some of those failures not happened to us, many of the good things that subsequently happened wouldn’t have happened either. It is surprising that the thing that we thought at the time as the worst thing to have happened to us, turns up becoming the best thing .
Sanjib Chaudhuri • Whether it is success or faliure it is a judjement. its is matter of meeting some targetss/deadline. We are more concern about how otherss are viewing it.
So in my opinion ihoe we handle our critics is matter most otherwise most of us know to learn from our mistakes I repeat mistakes
Binod Atreya, Ph.D • How success is measured? For commercial organization it could be profitability. But at individual level, how we measure success? Is it a better situation than yesterday ? Is it the happiness? Learning from failures will shed on light to move forward positively. Individuals needs emerge once we satisfy the immediate ones. If the next need is not met, one could argue being unsuccessful. Therefore, what could be possible indicators for measuring success?
Georgi Paleshnikov • @ Binod Atreya: Good point, Binod!
Last year I came across something on the internet exactly on this issue. It could be interesting for this discussion. I am sorry for not being able to quote the source (I can’t quite remember where it was from), but here is a part of it:
[…] There is a dependence between the social-economic status of those, taking care of the kids, and the cognitive potential of those kids. People having low or middle level of social status have a quite different concept about the world. The IQ, a way to measure the intellectual potential, depends equally on both the genes and the circumstances, in which a child is being raised.
There exist several indications, characteristic of those who are “programmed” to be poor. Aptitude for regretting oneself – people susceptible to poverty, regret themselves and assume that they are not destined to be rich. Some people regret that they are not from the opposite gender, or that their figure is not perfect and this prevents them from getting the desired job. Some regret that they are not yet married, others – just the opposite. Self-regret is a means to anchor oneself to a certain position in life, it stops you on the way of personal development and thus eternal poverty is secured.
Greed – the drive to total cost-cutting and saving is not a sign of prudence but an indicator, that your income and expenses are not balanced and you try to solve the problem with the wrong tactics. When all your energy is concentrated on the search of promotions and discount sales, it is a sign that you possess the second feature of the poor. A person, programmed to be rich, is ready to pay the real price on things and services, and to reward generously his collaborators and employees, but expects the same from all the others.
It is often the case people work something they hate actually, no matter what, driving them in displeasure, just because they have to pay bills, loans or something alike.
These people are ready for the hardships of poverty and the cause of this are the feelings, driven from the necessity to do things, which are unpleasant for them.
The key point of escaping this habit of poverty is to do something not because you have to, but because it gives you satisfaction. This is the only way to improve yourself and achieve excellent results.
A “beggar” measures success only in terms of money. He is convinced that only owning a certain sum of money in the bank account could bring him happiness. Money has to make him happy because of the clothes he can afford, journeys around the world, independence of the partner, or indeed quitting the hateful job.
But practice shows that happiness never comes this way. A successful person measures happiness in different units than just monetary ones, and everyone decides for himself exactly which they are.
Calvin Wilson • Failure I believe is an imperative criteria or in a general /alternate term ‘experience’ which also coincidentally also projects its relevance to “success” – experience good or bad, success or failure has to come across ‘hands-on’, enabling us to learn, adapt, develop and apply strategies and efforts to ensure or minimize any repetition of past failures (experience) – learning is an infinite process.
Vangelis Vandoros • i think success is to learn to leave with wins or on the orher hand simply you can be a successfull loser just by learning to leave with your failures..just a simple thought.
Thomas Schildbach • I guess “try and error” is not a problem as long as the “error” is optimizing the number & quality of “tries” for reaching a target. Is the only success to reach a target or is it already successful to tune the “tries” and learn how to do this for future targets? Depends largely on the culture, the view angle and the individual satisfaction level, I would say. Some people say that the journey is the reward (and this is true, at least sometimes).
Dr. Brian Monger • Binod – success, personal or corporate is measured against definitions and objectives. You define it, I can measure it.
Dr. Brian Monger • Trial and error is sort of OK. If you use some skills. Otherwise the error may well kill you. Actually or otherwise
Dr. Brian Monger • We try to manage so that the likelihood of success becomes greater.
If we do the planning (process) well then when we do stumble, we are better able to stand up again and continue
Rizvan M. Jaldeen PhD, CPM, MSLIM, MBA, FSSAM • Failure is also caused by some trying to reinvent the wheel. may be one can innovate the wheel but there is not need to invent it because its already there. Yes those who know how to deal with failures are the real managers / leaders
Managers who know how to deal with failure manage better and become better leaders. hosted a discussion on the same topic a few weeks ago.
Henry Obi Okwo some have alluded to, I have learned much more from failures than successes. If you are not failing enough, you are not challenging yourself to the max. How you react after failure is what counts the most. Risk and Failure go hand in hand, organizations should encourage employees to push beyond their comfort zones and take more risk without fear of failure.
Binod Atreya, Ph.D • @ Georgi and Dr. Brian: Yes, Georgi, you have touched the hearts and minds of millions people living in this world for those success means different things depending upon the situation and circumstances they are bound to live with. I agree with the last para people measures success in their own way.
Dr Brian, I agree with you that success can be measured against the definitions and objectives. Let me share an example of my own. Having a Ph.D degree was one of my objective and the day I was honored with the degree, I felt a great success in my career. Presently, the success for me could be different objectives and definitions and these go on changing once we move in our career. Do we measure success with the past?
Aditya Madiraju • Thanks Georgi for your comments.
Your comment – “There exist several indications, characteristic of those who are “programmed” to be poor. Aptitude for regretting oneself – people susceptible to poverty, regret themselves and assume that they are not destined to be rich.” really resonated well. I have found similar arguments in other Linkedin groups focused exclusively on Sales and discourse on Self-Confidence in this very group.
In the context of this discussion… I have to wonder if the attribution of failure is really because of “regretting”. Many people do use more exaggerated language many times…..
Dr. Kulbir Bhatti • Success is what we yearn for & failure is what makes us who we are today. As the famous quote by Francis Bacon goes-
“Prosperity discovers vice; adversity discovers virtue.”
To put it in the language of management-
“True success is Continuous Quality Improvement, taking failures as a feedback mechanism!”-
Thomas Schildbach • How can failure making & learning be turned into a success? Actually the basis is, that failure are allowed and are ok as long as you learn. Starts with a positive feedback…people receiving only negative feedback or comments for failures will try to avoid them or hide them in the future. A missed chance for development.
You observe this when you have kids..the processing of failures or negative scenarios makes them more experienced, self-confident, robust. Failure are simply an important factor for development.
Karthik Chinnasamy, MBA PMP • @Henri Obi – I think you are spot on Henri! How you react after failure determines what result it is going to give. One can decide to take it as a huge hit on their pride, their ability to succeed, etc., and go with fire on all cylinders to do whatever it takes to succeed. Or, there are a few who gets depressed, come to a conclusion that failure would be inevitable and do not take the risk of putting the efforts to be successful. Personal circumstances do matter, but at least one should constantly try and achieve smaller things by taking calculative risks rather than not trying at all due to the fear of failure.
Robert Pratt • It depends. If circumstances allow it, then the experience can be use it right away, and apply it from this point forward. Sometimes circumstances do not allow for immediate rework.
Aditya Madiraju • Analytically speaking Trial & Error is also known as Champion Challenger framework. Which when used effectively does create a platform to fail cost effectively. But I find very few takers for disciplined implementation.
S. Soner Selçuklu • I think learning from mistakes does not work well all the time, it is not a cost effective way to live your life. Also, we can’t know whether the alternative action would be the correct one. Countless alternative actions can exist. Plus, even if we promise ourselves that we won’t repeat the mistake, it is likely that we will make the same mistake again. On the other hand, using problem solving and thinking techniques that help to forsee potential consequences and learning from other’s mistakes and good experiences are actions that can help us to avoid failure.
Georgi Paleshnikov • @ Soner Selçuklu • You are quite right, Soner. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others, not from their own. That’s why history IMHO exists in the first place.
But world changes constantly, becomes more complex and thus more fragile. Plenty of room for new mistakes. Everyone prays it won’t be him. But after all, someone has to go the wrong way in order that another one finds the right one.
Dr. Brian Monger • Was it Eddison who said something like “I made 990 mistakes before inventing the light globe?
Dr. Kulbir Bhatti • A great point by Mr. Georgi & Dr. Brian here.
Just to simplify it a bit for novice minds like myself-
It is the virtue of successful people to learn from failures of others, BUT at the same time if the realm is an unexplored one, there are no lessons to learn from third-party failures!
In such a situation there is no other option than to be prepared to face the failures, learn from them. That’s how you deal with failures & eventually succeed.. just like Edison!
Georgi Paleshnikov • @ Brian & Kulbir: Excellent points!
When I said that “…someone has to go the wrong way in order that another one finds the right one” I did not exclude the option that this “another one” could be the person, who actually did the mistake. It depends on the way he deals with it.
If something does not kill you, it makes you stronger.
This is Part 1 of a very good, long Discussion. More to come shortly.
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