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Everyone Can Be Sherlock Holmes, Build Your Mind Palace For Exceptional Memory

Everyone Can Be Sherlock Holmes, Build Your Mind Palace For Exceptional Memory

Sherlock Holmes has been a household fictional character for decades. Famous for being detail-minded, observant, logical, slightly (or very) sociopathic, Sherlock is also known for his memory technique — his MIND PALACE (or memory palace).

In the BBC crime drama Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) mentioned the word “mind palace” numerous times. He goes there to retrieve memories and information to piece together answers to solve crimes.

In this scene in the episode The Hounds of Baskerville, Sherlock was deciphering what the word “liberty” means.

Sherlock: Get out! I need to go to my mind palace.
Lab assistant: What?
John: He’s not going to be doing much talking for a while, we might as well go.
Lab assistant: (confused) His what?
John: Mind palace.

Then Dr. Watson continued to explain to the lab assistant what a mind (or memory) palace is. A memory palace is a mental map or location that stores past memories, and it allows a person to trace back to information whenever needed without missing any bits. Sounds complicated and abstract, right?

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You may think this is the extraordinary power that Sherlock has, but long before Sherlock was even created the ancient Greek poet Simonides of Ceos invented the memory palace[1], scholastically known as the Method of loci. According to a myth, Simonides was asked to identify the remains of banqueters after the collapse of the hall. He then named each body based on where they sat in the hall. As amazing as it sounds, I’m sure some of you are still judging the idea of a memory palace.

Here is the response to all of the skeptism.

A research study [2] has proven that:

After spending six weeks cultivating an internal “memory palace”, people more than doubled the number of words they could retain in a short time period and their performance remained impressive four months later.

Yeah, so what?

We have all experienced that moment when we are in desperate need of something but we couldn’t find it because our room is too messy. It is the same for our memories. We tend to remember things in a random and chaotic way, so it becomes difficult to “search” and “trace” the memory back.

To easily grasp the concept of the memory palace, you don’t have to be a prodigy or own a specially-functioning super brain to strengthen your memory skills, and here are 4 steps to guide to a better memory:

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1. Create your own memory palace

Your memory palace could be your office, your neighborhood, or even an imaginary fantasyland with unicorns. It doesn’t matter, as long as you are familiar with the place.

For beginners, I would suggest to visualize a place where you come in to contact with every so often, the more frequently the better, like your apartment. (Okay, let’s continue to use an apartment as the example at this point.)

2. Plan a route and follow it

Imagine you are standing at the entrance of your apartment and you plan a route to walk through it. It could be: dining area, living room, bedroom, and last bathroom; or garage, laundry room, dining area, living room, patio. You decide which is the best way for you to walk through the apartment, but once you are set on a route, stick to it!

    The route you take in your memory palace.

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    3. Pay attention (or create) detailed features

    As you “walk” along the planned route, make sure to pay attention to every nook and cranny in the memory palace. Also, note every feature or item in a sequence, like left to right.

    Look at the Van Gogh painting on the wall in the dining area, take note of the antique yellow-ish lamp hanging in the ceiling of the living room, remember the old, dying plant your grandma gave you for Christmas on the patio.

    4. Associate things you want to memorize with your planned route

    Take a shopping list as an example: you need a hat, banana, and vegetables.

    Associate the things you want to memorize with the features in the palace: the hat you need with the Van Gogh painting, then banana with the lamp, and vegetables with the plant.

    If you want to specifically remember something more vividly, exaggerate it in your imagination to make a lasting impression.

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      Associate the features (left) with the items you need to memorize (right).

      Now that you have the route and features, go try it!

      Of course, what I have provided you is a simplified version of using the memory palace. There are people out there who memorize things with a different approach in their memory palaces. Some go above and beyond to create features to remember the 45 U.S. Presidents in order, from George Washington to the incumbent Donald Trump. Some prefer sticking to colors and associate items with them. Some use the linguistic approach to associate things with features that are similar in sound.

      It goes to show you can use the memory palace for anything and everything, and you are not required to stick to the approach I shared. Find the best route for your own memory palace and always practice using it, and I’m sure you can tell people you memorize like Sherlock in no time!

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      Frank Yung

      Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

      Your Future Self Will Thank You For Starting To Do This For Only 10 Minutes Every Day 10 Best Standing Desks That Are High in Quality and Cheap in Price Finally, a Way to Avoid Jet Lag: The Jet Lag Calculator The Best Places Around the World to Retire in 2017 Take 5 Minutes To Read And Improve Your Writing Skills Forever

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      Last Updated on March 25, 2020

      How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

      How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

      There are several perspectives on the term systems thinking. The discipline goes beyond a collection of tools and techniques. A lot of individuals are fascinated by tools like brainstorming tools, structural thinking tools, dynamic thinking tools, as well as computer-based tools. They believe the system thinking tools can make them smarter and productive. However, it goes beyond that as systems thinking is more strategic and sensitive to the environment we find ourselves.

      So what is systems thinking and why is it good for you?

      What Is Systems Thinking?

      Systems thinking is a diagnostic tool that can help you to assess problems before taking action. It helps you to ask questions before arriving at conclusions. It prevents you from making an assumption, which is the lowest level of knowledge.

      A systems thinker is curious, compassionate, and courageous. The systems thinking approach incorporates the act of seeing the big picture instead of seeing in parts. It recognizes that we are connected, and there are diverse ways to solve a problem.

      Characteristics of Systems Thinking

      Systems thinking can help you in analyzing the connections between subsystems and understanding their potentials to make smarter decisions.

      In a soccer team, the elements are the coach, players, the field, and a ball. The interrelationships are strategies, communications among players, and game rules. The goal is to win, have fun and exercise. We all belong to several systems and subsystems.

      Some characteristics of systems thinking include:

      • Issue is important
      • The issue is familiar with well-known patterns
      • Attempts have been made to resolve the issue.

      Given these characteristics, systems thinking goes beyond an operational tool; it is a strategic approach and a philosophy.

      How to Use Systems Thinking

      Here’re 3 ways you can use systems thinking:

      1. Understand How the System Works and Use Feedback Points

      The first task is to know what system is all about and identify the leverage points or feedbacks that influence its functioning. This is what will help in adjusting the system.

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      If you want the system to be productive, enhance the feedback points. If you want it to be less productive, exhaust the same points.

      A good example is that of a bathtub. The leverage points are the faucet and the drain. If you forget to close the drain, having turned on the water, the water will never stop flowing, and the tub will never overflow.

      If you want more water, close the drain while you turn the water. If otherwise, turn the faucet off and open the drain. You can apply this to your personal development.

      Once you discover the feedback points in your life, find your leverage or feedback points, then enhance those points. If you want to be fit, get a trainer, find a mentor, or eat healthy foods.

      2. Discover the Patterns, Structure, and Events

      Trends and patterns could be compared to clues for a crossword puzzle. As you aspire to enhance the system, trends and patterns offer you hints and cause to shift your paradigm. Usually, they can direct you to unusual and unexpected aspects, to ideas, people, or places you have never thought about.

      Smart people watch out for trends and patterns so they can be conversant with changes.

      You can view the world from 3 different perspectives:

      i. The Event Perspective

      If you consider the world from an event perspective, the best you can do is to be smarter is ‘react’. You tend to be smarter by reacting quickly, becoming more lighter on your feet, and flexible as you advance through life.

      So how do you view the world from an event perspective? You ask a question like, ‘What happened?’.

      There is the possibility of becoming more aware and seeing more at this level. An excellent technique to achieve this is by telling a story to a group. If you can see beyond each event, see beyond patterns and trends, you will be empowered to anticipate, predict, and plan.

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      ii. Pattern Perspective

      To view the world from a pattern perspective, you need to ask, ‘What has been happening?’

      It is most times difficult to see the actual size of an iceberg (underlying structures that are the causes of events). The waterline dissects what’s visible from what’s not visible.

      A systems thinker does not assume from what’s visible only; he or she seeks to know what has been happening.

      Take a look at this video to understand more about the Iceberg Theory:

       

      iii. The Structure Perspective

      To view the world from a structure perspective, you need to ask, ‘what is causing issues?’ The answers will be the factors and forces responsible.

      If you find yourself in a traffic jam, you don’t blame the next driver as a smart person; you could ask, ‘what’s been causing the traffic jam?

      The usual answers could be a decaying road surface, careless driver, or high speed, but that would be the same things identified as trends. What makes the structure perspective different from others.

      The structure is what propels your energy. It is what affects happenings. A systems thinkers make deductions based on internal structures to arrive at a conclusion

      3. People Problems vs System Problems

      Several issues ranging from security breaches, product flaws, poverty, to transportation inefficiencies are systemic.

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      Even when you misbehave, there is usually an internal system to blame.

      If you are not productive in your business, it may not be caused by you. There may be a system that you need to enhance.

      Do you remember our feedback points? As soon as you assess the system, you can focus on people. Is a new hire causing lag in the packaging process? Is poor communication affecting the team’s performance? Reallocating job roles may be a perfect leverage point.

      In the traffic jam example, there could be a system-based solution such as installing traffic lights and subsequently enforcing traffic laws in the area to penalize reckless drivers.

      How to Foster Learning with Systems Thinking

      Systems thinking helps you to appreciate the interrelationships of people, organizations, policies, decisions, ideas, and relationships.

      Peter M Senge propounded five disciplines that foster learning in your DNA- whether you are leading an organization, starting a venture, or working as a freelancer.[1]

      1. Gain Mastery

      You can take online courses, attend conferences, read blog articles and books, listen to podcasts, converse with leaders within and beyond your industry, watch documentaries, learn from your team, and stretch yourself by improving your skills.

      2. Discover Your Assumptions and Biases

      There was this parable of four blind men who made different assumptions about an elephant. Their assumptions and biases hinder them from understanding how the animal looks like.

      Biases can rob you of innovation and prevent you from experiencing personal growth. To become aware of your biases, you have to take an internal trip and engage breakthrough thinking.

      3. Establish Your Vision

      Systems grind to a halt when the goal or mission is not defined. You will not have the motivation to complete the online course if you don’t know why you subscribe in the first place.

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      Is it for career advancement? To up your game or to gain general knowledge? Vision inspires you.

      4. Learn in Groups

      There is power in shared learning. There is a solidification of understanding when you learn in a group. You can have the lessons etched in your long term memory.

      For instance, you can join learning groups where information is shared weekly.

      5. Think in Systems

      Systems thinking is about lifelong learning and improvement. It has also been linked to the Iceberg principle, which affirms that visible events are insignificant compared to what’s visible. There’s more ice below the waterline than what you can see with your physical eyes.

      Anytime you are battling with a challenge, think in systems. Understand the details of the issue. Discover your leverage points. Assess, adapt, and keep improving your models.

      After all. If you meet a lion in the wild, you need to understand what you are facing.

      Final Thoughts

      You can foster systems thinking by modeling your own environment. Participate in training, watch TED Talks, and create time to connect with others.

      Also, practice critical thinking instead of making assumptions before you make a decision. The more you think systems, the more you will become smarter and productive in every aspect of your life.

      More to Help You Think Smarter

      Featured photo credit: Olav Ahrens Røtne via unsplash.com

      Reference

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