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How to Have the Second Brain to Remember More

How to Have the Second Brain to Remember More

Your whole life depends on you being able to retrieve things from your memory.

I’m sure you know what I mean… “Where are my keys?” “What major tasks do I need to complete today?” “What time is that meeting I need to attend?”

Questions such as these bombard our minds daily. If you’re able to recall the relevant information, you’ll keep your life on track. However, if you fail to recall the information – your life will start to move in a confused and unproductive direction.

We’d all love to boost our memories, but often we go about it in the wrong way. It’s not about how much information we can absorb into our minds, but how easily we can retrieve this information (which most people aren’t good at).

Information Overload = Memory Failure

We live in an information age, where our minds are besieged 24/7 by facts, figures, news, drama and trends.

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To maintain our standing among our peers, most of us strive in vain to keep up-to-date with everything from music to movies to politics.

It’s a never-ending whirlpool of information. And if you try to remember all of this information – you’re likely to find that your mind becomes so full that you begin to lose the ability to think clearly.

Information overload is a modern-day plague. And your memory is likely to be one of the plague’s victims.

For example, when you were younger, you may have loved to sing along with your favorite songs. Sadly, as you’ve grown older, you’ve started to forget the words to the songs. The more you try to recall the words – the further from your mind they seem to be. It’s frustrating, and has probably blighted a pastime that you used to love.

Could it be that over the years, you’ve tried to remember just too many songs? Perhaps.

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As you’ll see below, continually overloading your memory, can lead to recall issues and embarrassing social interactions.

It’s on the Tip of My Tongue, But…

It can be distressing when the flow of our conversation is blocked by our inability to recall information. And this can be especially traumatic if it takes place during a formal work environment.

For instance, imagine that you’re doing a presentation at work to some potential clients. You’ve created PowerPoint slides to guide you through your presentation, but the bulk of the message you’re hoping to convey is held in the memory banks of your mind. You start your presentation positively, but after a few awkward questions from one of the clients, you notice your confidence slipping – and your recall ability falling too! Suddenly, facts and figures seem out of your grasp. You’re stuttering, and rapidly losing the attention of the audience. To put it another way: you’re presentation has gone down the pan!

Storing tons of information in your memory is worthless if you’re unable to recall the parts you need – at the time you need them. Luckily, there’s a way to give your physical memory some much-needed breathing space.

How to Let a ‘Digital Brain’ Take the Strain

Our physical brains can only offer us a limited amount of memory storage and recall abilities. These limits used to be sufficient, but as mentioned earlier, we now live in an information age, where our ability to absorb and recall information has been stretched beyond our normal capabilities.

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What’s the answer to this problem? Well, you could start by giving some of this storing and recalling work to a digital brain.

By this, I don’t mean you should turn yourself into a cyborg. In fact, the only thing you’ll be turning yourself into is a super-efficient and productive version of yourself!

I’ve called it a digital brain, but you’ll know it simply as digital or online storage. And you’re sure to recognize some of the tools:

  • Airtable
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Google Drive
  • Pocket

The above software (and other similar ones) allows you to store, organize, and easily retrieve information. For example, Pocket lets you capture blogs, news and videos into a digital pocketbook. This is achieved through a one-click process. Once the content is within your pocketbook, you can retrieve and view it at any time. Clearly, this is far more efficient than trying to remember which stories you’ve seen earlier in the day – but hadn’t had chance to read/watch.

Instead of trying to remember everything with your physical brain, begin moving over some of the information to your digital brain. Whichever tool (or tools) you decide to use, you’ll immediately be able to take advantage of the following benefits:

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  • You can store as much information as you wish. (Free plans may offer only limited storage.)
  • You can easily organize and prioritize the stored information.
  • The stored information is available in an instant, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Compared to relying 100 percent on your physical brain, the addition of a digital brain will help you immensely. You’ll be able to determine what to store, what not to store, and when to retrieve information. You’ll also be able to use a digital brain to help you with your to-do lists and goal planning.

I personally use Google Drive for storing all my documents and images, and I use Todoist to help me manage my day-to-day tasks and workload. I’ve found using a digital brain to be liberating. Before, I used to stress over trying to remember everything – now my mind feels relaxed and free. I also have more mental energy for creative pursuits.

You may think that highly-productive people must be blessed with super-powered memories. For sure, some are, but most of these people are ordinary folks, with one difference… They have learned how to use a digital brain to help them store and retrieve information – and to organize their lives.

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Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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