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What Every Leader Should Learn From Pope Francis

What Every Leader Should Learn From Pope Francis

Pope Francis, whether your a Catholic or not, is a significant world leader. He’s been on Fortune’s Worlds Greatest Leaders List list two years running and has made a significant impact in the two and half years since he became pontiff.

Born, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in Buenes Aries, Pope Francis was ordained in 1969 and served as Bishop from 1992 to 2001 and as a Cardinal from then until his election as pope in 2013.

His impact as a leader is distinctive and I believe based on not so much on personality but on how he leads and these attributes are what every leader can learn from Pope Francis.

Understand leadership

Renowned business thinker Gary Hamel, writing for the Harvard Business Review about Pope Francis says, “He understands that in a hyper-kinetic world, inward-looking and self-obsessed leaders are a liability.”

Hamel’s article, “The 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis,” is based on an address Pope Francis made to the Roma Curia, the body that administers the Catholic church. It shows Pope Francis has a real understanding of leadership and is able to clearly articulate his vision in this area to those he is leading within the Vatican.

This understanding on leadership comes I believe from two things. Firstly, he’s grounding in psychology, a subject a he taught earlier in his career. We can all take time to learn about leadership, study the science of psychology which underpins it as preparation for taking a role as a leader.

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Secondly, it’s something he’s practiced.

Put in the service first

Whilst Francis may seem like an overnight sensation nothing could be further from the truth. Being Pope has been a long and often difficult journey for Francis, nine years as a Bishop and twelve as a Cardinal. Depending on the scale of the leadership you aspire to, don’t rush to get there but put the service in first, deal with the tough challenges which will help you prepare for the future.

Instead of being overambitious, look for the opportunities to lead and serve where you are now rather than aiming for advancement too quickly.

An example of Francis’ work as a Bishop was to reorganize the banking arrangements of the diocese so that a higher degree of fiscal discipline. Without that experience would he had the confidence the more challenging administrative issues of the Vatican?

Be outward looking and relevant

Whilst Francis isn’t shying away from dealing with the internal workings of the Vatican what’s clear, and why he’s in headlines, is that his leadership style is outward looking. This again is a continuation of his earlier work where he has been a strong track record of ecumenism (working with other branches or Christianity) and promoting links with other faiths.

If you only look inside you organisation then you will become too narrowly focus and risk becoming irrelevant.

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And Pope Francis is highly relevant. His famous 2015 encyclical on the environment (laudato si’, subtitled “on care for our common home”) is important whether you’re in the Catholic church or not. It has been a seen as a good thing by environmentalists outside the church. One such person is veteran environmentalist Jonathon Porritt who, despite strong reservations about Papal teaching, wrote, “as a growing and already hugely inspirational presence in our environmental world, there’s so much to admire about what this man is saying and doing.”

By being relevant and outward looking you connect with people, even those who might not be your natural allies and think exactly like you. So as leaders we need to think, connect and act broadly.

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads … to those who have quit or are indifferent.” Pope Francis.

Eschew the trinkets of office

The irrelevant inward looking leader is often the one most worried about the size of their corner office or their rights to a parking place.

It’s no surprise that Pope Francis has chosen to live more modestly in a one bedroom apartment rather than the Apostolic palace that he could have, again repeating how he’d lived as a Cardinal.

As leader people are watching you. If they see a fat cat feathering their own nest then they won’t be inspired.

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“An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity, is this: look at the peacock; it’s beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth… Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.” Pope Francis.

Pope Francis throws the status model of leadership on it’s head and it’s something we can all do. Maybe it’s as simple as asking if your flash office or prime desk position could be better used by someone else?

Use the resources you have wisely

Whatever resources you have at your disposal they should be used to the best purpose. Whether it’s a desk or a Vatican bank account it needs to be managed well. It’s not there just for you to indulge yourself. Francis’ focus in improving banking and administration is to good purpose as in frees up resources to be better used.

Pope Francis’ motivation for a more simpler existence is exactly this; the resources can be used specifically for the charitable purposes of the Catholic church.

If we take unnecessarily from an organisation we lead, whether they are charitable or not, we can undermine the purpose of the organisation by depriving funds from where they might be badly needed.

“Money has to serve, not to rule.” Pope Francis.

And you don’t need a gilded sanctuary if you’re out there meeting your people.

Get out more

You won’t meet many people if you don’t get out. As Bishop in Buenos Aries he was dubbed the “Slum Bishop” because of number of priests he sent into the poor areas. Also he would regularly  go out on his own.

Pope Francis’ external outlook as been cemented by his getting out and meeting people. This has created opportunities for him to address audiences on subjects important to him and make an impact.

“This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is criss-crossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.” Pope Francis

In conclusion Pope Francis is remarkable as a leader because he’s actually doing what we want from our leaders. We don’t want self interest but rather someone engaged in the real world who acts with real humility. And that’s what every leader can learn.

Featured photo credit: Papa rock star / Edgar Jiménez via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

People like to joke that the only thing you really “learn” in school is how to memorize. As it turns out, that’s not even the case for most of us. If you go around the room and ask a handful of people how to memorize things quickly and how to remember things, most of them will probably tell you repetition.

That is so far from the truth, it’s running for office. If you want to memorize something quickly and thoroughly, repetition won’t cut it; however, recalling something will. The problem is that recalling something requires learning and we all learn in different ways.

So how to memorize more and faster than others?

In this article, you will learn how to master the art of recalling so that you can start memorizing a ton of data in a short amount of time.

Before you start, know your learning style

Before we start, you need to establish something: are you an auditory, visual, or experiential learner?

If you’re an auditory learner, then the most effective way for you to grasp information is by hearing it. As you can imagine, visual learners favor seeing something in order to learn it. Experiential learning types are more akin to learning from events and experiences (or, doing something with the material).

Try out this quick quiz to find out your learning style.

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Most of us are a combination of at least two of these categories but I will denote which step is most favorable to your most agreeable learning style so that you can start to memorize things quickly and efficiently.

Step 1: Preparation

To optimize your memorization session, pay close attention to which environment you choose. For most people, this means choosing an area with few distractions, though some people do thrive off of learning in public areas. Figure out what is most conducive to your learning so that you can get started.

Next, start drinking some tea. I could link you to mounds of scientific studies that confirm green tea as a natural catalyst for improving memory. Mechanically speaking, our ability to recall information comes down to the strength between neurons in our mind, which are connected by synapses. The more you exercise the synapse (repetition), the stronger it is, resulting in the ability to memorize.

As we get older, toxic chemicals will damage our neurons and synapses, leading to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s. Green tea contains compounds, however, that block this toxicity and keep your brain cells working properly a lot longer.

Step 2: Record what you’re memorizing

This is especially useful if you’re trying to memorize information from a lecture. Use a tape recorder to track all of the acquired facts being spoken and listen to it.

If you’re trying to memorize a speech, record yourself reading the speech aloud and listen to yourself speaking. Obviously, this is most helpful for auditory learners, but it’s also handy because it ensures that you’re getting more context from a lecture that will help you learn the information faster.

Step 3: Write everything down

Before you start trying to recall everything from memory, write and re-write the information. This will help you become more familiar with what you’re trying to memorize.

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Doing this while listening to your tape recorder can also help you retain a lot of the data. This is most useful for experienced learners.

Step 4: Section your notes

Now that you have everything written down in one set of notes, separate them into sections. This is ideal for visual learners, especially if you use color coding to differentiate between subjects.

This will help you break everything down and start compartmentalizing the information being recorded in your brain.

Step 5: Apply repetition to cumulative memorization

For each line of text, repeat it a few times and try to recall it without looking. As you memorize each set of text, be cumulative by adding the new information to what you’ve just learned. This will keep everything within your short-term memory from fading.

How this works? It’s actually related to two distinct modes of brain functioning: System 1 and System 2. You’d better take a look at how these systems work if you want to improve your memory.

Keep doing this until you have memorized that section and you are able to recall the entire thing. Do not move on to another section until you have memorized that one completely.

This is mostly visual learning but if you are speaking aloud, then you are also applying auditory.

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Step 6: Write it down from memory

Now that you can recall entire sections, write everything down from memory. This will reinforce everything you just have just learned by applying it experientially.

Step 7: Teach it to someone (or yourself)

The most effective method for me when I was in school was to teach the information to someone else. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can lecture the knowledge to someone sitting right in front of you (or the mirror, if you can’t convince anyone to sit through it) and explain everything extemporaneously.

If what you’ve learned needs to be recited verbatim, then do this in front of someone as well in order to get a feel for what it will be like to recite the text to the intended audience.

My favorite method for this is creating tests for other people. Take the information and predict what questions will come out of them. Use multiple choice, matching and so on to present the data in test format and see how someone else does.

All of this is experiential learning since you are actually practicing and manipulating the concepts you’ve learned.

Step 8: Listen to the recordings continuously

While doing unrelated tasks like laundry or driving, go over the information again by listening to your tape recordings. This is certainly auditory learning but it will still supplement everything you’ve shoved into your short-term memory.

Step 9: Take a break

Finally, let your mind breathe. Go for a short time without thinking about what you just learned and come back to it later on.

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You’ll find out what you really know and this will help you focus on the sections you might be weakest at.

Try these steps now and you will find remembering things a lot easier and you’ll memorize more stuff than a lot of other people!

Bonus Technique to Upgrade Your Brain

Now that you know the steps to take in order to memorize more and faster than other people. What if I tell you there’s one bonus technique that will increase your brain power, boost memory and become 10x smarter?

Yes! Check out this amazing technique to upgrade your brain now!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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