How do you learn? How do you link your new learning with your memory? How do you take in any information? Of course, it comes in as data through one of your senses. The obvious ones are sight and hearing but they are not the only ones at work. You may have touched something, or it may have touched you. You may have tasted a new food. You may have noticed an unusual odor. There is also a 6th sense which means we take note of a feeling though may not be sure how or why it happened. All your senses are receptors bringing in information that your brain will record, maybe store, maybe making it easy for you to remember later.
When we pay more attention we will help our brain execute that process called memory: receive, store, be able to retrieve. It also helps to get that information through multiple senses, hence, drawing, diagraming, and writing notes, can all improve the memory.
Let’s continue to explore this set of ideas about learning and memory through this newsletter. Please comment, add ideas, and ask questions.
What sites, blogs, or newsletters do you subscribe to now to improve your thinking and decision-making?
Everyone and anyone can improve and it should get better the older you are and the more you have learned and practiced over the years. So what do you do to get better all the time?
Please respond to let me know. Also if you ask your friends and associates the same question, you will start a great conversation.
Recognizing and overcoming mental blind spots.
It may seem strange to say that you see with your brain. Yes, the eyes are the windows. They let in the light waves and movement that get interpreted by the brain. If the ocular nerve (going from the eyes to the brain) or the part of the brain that interprets the signals is damaged, you don’t see. You are blind even though there may be nothing wrong with your eyes.
We can also have a mental blind spot or mental lack of hearing spot because we are not paying attention. Our brain has learned to ‘block out’ sights and sounds that have proven in the past not to be important to you. You may not notice that there is music playing or people having a conversation in the next room until someone brings it to your attention.
Mental blind spots can be there in a person’s brain about any subject and not just about sight or hearing. You may be listening but not paying attention to someone talking to you, maybe even your spouse or parent, until suddenly they say something you really care about. At that point it is as if your brain suddenly wakes up and pays attention.
You can be driving along the streets in your city and not take any notice whether parking is readily available until you get to the street where you will need parking.
There was a story several years ago about a man who had a large family but not much income. During a hot summer spell his children started begging for an above ground pool for the back yard. He told them he couldn’t afford it. Then he left for work driving on the same highway and streets he took five days a week. Suddenly he noticed a sign behind a house he was passing that said, “Above ground 15’ pool, free, to anyone who can pick it up.” He pulled off at the next exit and found the house. When he rang the doorbell he asked,”is the pool still available? How long have you had that sign up?” To his surprise the sign had been up for two months. He had been passing it nearly every day and not taken notice until his children raised his awareness of wanting a pool. His children got the pool they wanted.
We have to turn on our brain to a subject. We have to be paying attention. That is why trying to multitask gets in our way so often. If you are looking at your phone you can’t be paying attention to the meeting you are attending, or the road while you are driving.
Cultivate Curiosity, Yours and Your Associates
Young children are naturally curious. Too often we get impatient with their incessant questions and dampen their curiosity. Curiosity is a good thing, even a great thing.
With associates as with children, it may be advantageous to ask them a question when they ask you for an answer. How have you tried to answer this so far? Or how could you explore the idea yourself to find possible answers? Be sure to encourage the thought that there may be several good answers not just one. What options have you thought of, so far? How can you search out multiple options and then make a choice among the options?
As with all questions you ask, unless you are a teacher testing your students, only ask questions you are not already certain of the answer. You have to be open to the ideas and answers you will hear. You have to want to hear creative and unusual answers.
Ask, how will you explore options and compare them?
Here are some ideas to share as ways to compare and contrast possible paths to make thoughtful conclusions.
- Force yourself or your team to write down as many options as possible. Challenge yourselves to list at least 10 ways to solve the problem, or some number that requires a bigger list than you think is possible. The reason for the stretch list is that the first ones you think about will be the same old boring over-used answers. It is only when you have to come up with larger numbers of answers that you get into the creative and interesting solutions.
- Some ideas that would normally get rejected without exploring will make it on to the list.
- Every option listed deserves some what-if and how-could-it-work analysis.
- Combinations and permutations of the various options can sometimes evolve into a better solution than any of the answers listed individually.
- The process of brainstorming options will get your brain on a roll allowing you to keep coming up with more ideas after you thought you were finished. Keep paper and pencil or a recorder handy and record every idea no matter how far-fetched.
Your brand, your organization and you yourself will be differentiated by all the great ideas, solutions, and the ideation process itself. People are attracted by and buy from organizations that are clearly differentiated.
Publishing a book means overcoming a lot of hurdles, not just getting the book written. Two years to write the book then at least two months of agonizing back and forth editing and updating and editing again and updating again, etc. etc. etc. But it is all worth it when you see the finished product. And it is even more worth it when someone writes and says how much they liked or learned from your book. So I hope that if and when you read my new book, Business, Brains & B.S., you will let me know.
The word brainstorming has gotten a bad rap from some who write on the www. The problem they seem to have is that their experiences with the subject have been the antithesis of purposeful brainstorming.
So I propose to use ‘idea generation’ instead of brainstorming. That is the purpose of most brainstorming sessions any way.
A good idea generation session has a clear goal but also leaves lots of room for playing around with ideas and exploring several different avenues that turn up.
A good idea generation session also will produce some ideas and directions that seem immediately applicable while others should be put in the parking lot to be reintroduced and explored at a next meeting.
My daughter ran an amazing fund raiser on Saturday evening. When I left, the dance floor was filled with happy dancers.
But the purpose was to raise money for the FitMS Neurobalance Center and that was enormously successful. All the services they provide for people with diseases that affect balance and the ability to walk, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s, will continue for another year.
Sooner or later every business person starts to wonder if they are losing their touch or getting too complacent. People buy based on differences not sameness. You and your company must constantly strive to stand out, to be viewed as a resource, not just a supplier.
A commodity is an item that is undifferentiated in the mind of the potential customer. If it isn’t viewed as any different from any other in its class then the customer will choose the lowest cost, the cheapest. That is the recipe for sliding down the slippery slope of less and less profit.
So instead choose the goal to be viewed as innovative, differentiated, something or someone special.
Innovation is in everyone’s grasp. It is not limited to the birthright of a few ‘creatives.’
Use any of the ideas in Power Brainstorming, the book, or that you will read in this blog to get the creative juices flowing.
Let’s start with diversity, diversity of thinking styles and backgrounds. Us humans tend to filter out so much of our environment that it is easy to miss some good nuggets. Different backgrounds and thinking styles mean observing or noticing different elements. It also means that the same element can elicit a very different response or thought process. I do an exercise in some of my onsite seminars where each person starts with the same word and then lists word connections. Even a common word will elicit very different streams of connected words from participants who may work together every day.
This exercise when applied to your product or customer or event will start you off on the creativity to innovation track.