The Success Blog

Put your best brain forward

This was my feeling at a seminar in Dubai, during the PowerPoint presentation conducted by an eminent personality. I happen to go in full earnest to absorb thoughts from leaders in their field of study, and then there are times I fail to grasp the entire train of thought due to a weak presentation environment. David Ogilvy wisecracked on this common phenomenon, "Most people use PowerPoint like a drunk uses a lamppost- for support rather than for illumination." While there are a lot of good suggestions out there on how-to-better-your-presentation-skills, in this article - I am on the listener's side. I am now standing in for those who are present in the audience wanting to soak up new ideas and genuinely trying to understand the speaker’s presentation. How many of you'd like to keep reading/listening but need effective ways to understand focussedly and make learnings lasting?

I guess, many of us! So, let's understand the science behind the learning process and consider means to make it perpetual.

Human Brain
The human brain is still being studied extensively as we discover this is one of the best memory and computing device ever seen. The fatty mass of the human brain houses as much as hundred billion units of nerve cells i.e. Neurons all connected to each other in a web like structure. It is these connections that are made routinely and every moment of our living life as we absorb new information from our environment and our interaction with it through the five senses.
Permanent learning is a learning technique of the brain - in which we transfer knowledge from our working memory (rough note pad) to long term memory (permanent storage). Working memory is that section of the brain where the information is processed whereas the long-term memory is the section where information is stored – like a book on the bookshelf in a library.

Three foundations of learning
Learning happens at all times we go about in our daily life and work – at home and office. Children learn to identify new object, adults learn to improve the skills and knowledge while learning to solve complex problems. Whatever be the motive, the process of learning is universal. This learning process has cognitive, emotional and behavioral influencers which influence the way we perceive, understand the knowledge and skills.

Learning is a timed process
It takes time to acquire in-depth knowledge, long term retention and control over what we choose to learn. This happens with focus on the subject matter at hand.

Learning happens in a positive and safe environment.
In this environment, questioning, experimentation is encouraged to allow learners to attain excellence.

Coaching is necessary  
A guided learning is always a great way to make your learning effective and long lasting. Professional guidance from an Executive Coach helps to act as a sounding board to your learning process and strengthens the learning with associations of discussions and examples. This leads to desired behaviour formation with engagement from the Coach.
Habit forming for example is a causation of building neural pathways in the brain. Repeating the learnings and undergoing a structured development process with an Executive Coach helps you to reconfigure your brain synapses and overcome negative behaviours and replace the same with the desired positive behaviours.

Tools for Memorising - Mind Mapping
One of the more practical ways I learnt about is a diagrammatical way of organising information visually. Our brains are structured in way that it absorbs specific types of content in unique ways. Consider the fact that 90 percent of the information humans absorb happens through our visual faculties i.e. eyes.
We already know, what is seen visually is more engaging than that what is read in sentences. A mind map serves to organise pieces of information around a central concept – in a similar way as the human brain stores and archives information.
The term "mind map" has been promoted by Tony Buzan, with the use of diagrams that visually "map" information using branching and radial arms.
Mind maps are typically drawn by hand, either to take notes from a meeting or strategy session, and for any new learning being done to memorise the concepts. Students can use mind maps to help with their studies and the brain learns well with images and branching out of information from a central concept. This can be used across by most folks for learning, brainstorming, memory enhancement, visual thinking and problem solving. Today you also can grab hold of sophisticated software tools for mind mapping and get a full color gamut on your own mind maps replete with imagery, videos and links to various other files.

Good living for your Best Brain forward
Good living elements help with enhanced focus and making your desired learnings lasting some of which are:

  • Meditation helps in increasing focus and working memory which is vital in learning process.
  • Exercise keeps you physically fit and increases memory recall power.
  • Regular sleep helps in consolidating the memory.
  • Brain puzzles make your memory sharp and enhance focus.
  • Managing stress is important to develop a good memory & archival system.

In this era of hyper competition where the phenomena of ‘Winner-takes-it-all’ is all pervasive, it helps to be on your sharpest memory recall, a fine-tuned learning mode and pit your best brain forward versus your competitors.

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