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7 Hacks To Mastering Reading As The Ultimate Secret To Success

7 Hacks To Mastering Reading As The Ultimate Secret To Success

My secret to success is reading. Our mind is an amazing gift and the beauty of this secret weapon is similar to the accumulation of wealth. I read over 100 books a year and grow significantly from every one of them. Through reading we experience exponential growth through the accumulation of knowledge. The more we know, the more we are capable of knowing.

Successful people develop a hunger for growth and make reading a secret weapon towards success. Here are seven ways to hack reading and make it your secret weapon.

1. Read when your mind is at its peak.

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

What time of the day are you at your best? When is your mind alert and at its peak? Reading breeds creativity. It’s as if ideas are transported to our minds when we read. I am up early and some of my best reading takes place first thing in the morning. However, the best time for me to read is right after a long run.

Figure out when your mind is at its peak. Find that time of the day and do everything humanly possible to read at that exact time.

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2. Plug-in and listen to audiobooks.

“Never wish life were easier, wish that you were better.” – Jim Rohn

I am always plugged in. Just ask my wife, I am always listening to an audiobook. One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is during a long run while I’m listening to audiobooks. With audiobooks, you can speed up the recording and complete books even faster. I am able to listen to audiobooks at 2x the speed. This is extremely beneficial when completing long runs, such as a marathon.

You can maximize your time through audiobooks. Think about all the time we spend moving from one location to another. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise, while driving, while stuck in traffic, while in the shower, and while doing household and outdoor chores.

3. Start reading as young as possible.

“Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” – St. Francis Xaiver

One of my most cherished moments in life is the first time I read to my beautiful little girl. Our family color is purple and we are from Kansas, so naturally we are huge Kansas State University Wildcat fans (and graduates). The first book I read to my daughter was Bill Snyder: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done by Mark Jansen and legendary KSU coach Bill Snyder.

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The earlier you start reading to your child, the better. In fact, read to your child while he or she is still in the womb. The best time to teach your child to read is from zero to three years of age. Glenn Doman, author of How to Teach Your Baby to Read declared, “Not only is it possible to teach your babies to read; it’s a great deal easier to teach babies to read than it is to teach six-year-olds.”

4. Find the right book when applying for a job.

“The only thing that hurts harder than a failure is not trying.” – Apoorve Dubey

The best way to prepare for a job interview is to find a book related to the profession. Or better yet, find a book penned by the CEO of that same organization. For example, if you are applying for a job in process improvement or manufacturing, find the audiobook version of The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. Listen to the audiobook during every available opportunity. Before you realize it, you will be discussing principles in the book and will appear as an expert.

This will also put you ahead in your profession. You will be amazed just how little people read, especially books in their profession.

5. Read books that expand your creative mind.

“It is only through a human’s effort that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

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It is amazing how ideas pop in and out of our mind. One of the best ways to get your mind in its creative peak, other than trying something illegal, is to read completely mind-blowing and strange books. I purposely go to the weirdest areas of a bookstore and find books that are exceptionally crazy. You do not have to believe everything you read in these books, however, they will get your creative juices flowing.

“Ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners. When an idea thinks it has found somebody who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen. You will start to notice all sorts of signs pointing you toward the idea. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea. The idea will wake you up in the middle of the night and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Some crazy books include: The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin, Brave New World and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, Entangled: The Eater of Souls by Graham Hancock, and DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman.

6. Read books that establish your philosophy.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Books will not only transport you to the world of crazy creativity, they will also assist you in establishing your philosophy. It was not until recently that I had a clear vision of my political and social philosophy. I wouldn’t have formulated my philosophy without books. They helped me discover and put words into how I see life.

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Two powerful books that helped me establish my philosophy were both by author Ayn Rand. They were Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

7. Read books before, during, and after you exercise.

“Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.”

When we exercise, our brain produces a nerve growth factor called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that stimulates neurogenesis, which is the growth of brain cells and synapses in the brain. Think of how you conduct an exercise routine. For example, I run for one hour every morning. I stretch prior to the run, perform the run, then cool down. Think of your brain. Prior to the run, I am preparing my mind and body. During the run, I am stimulating the production of BDNF, leading to neurogenesis. After the run, my brain is firing on all cylinders and is at its peak and ready to grow. I listen to audiobooks this entire time. I do this in order to keep my neuronal wiring strong.

Your brain is like a muscle and it needs to be used and exercised. Visualize improving your bicep muscle. Your tool is the weight, you stretch the bicep prior to the exercise, you conduct the exercise, then you cool down and the muscle becomes stronger. Now visualize your brain. Your tool in this instance is an audiobook. You prep your brain, you perform the exercise while listening to your tool, then you cool down, and the brain grows and becomes stronger.

Featured photo credit: IMDB via imdb.com

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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