Personal Development, Leadership, and Motivation Blog Series
We all have different learning styles and preferences. Some learn by simply reading the material and visually memorizing everything they read and see. Others learn best by doing the task versus reading about in the books. And then there are some who use a combination of visual memorization, asking questions and hands on. For me personally, I have a very bad visual memory, I can read something and few minutes later I would forget what I’ve just read, so I most definitely do not have a good visual memory.
If you are among the lucky few who has an exceptional photographic memory, what you read about here would be simply an icing on the cake for you. However, if you are like me, someone who doesn’t share the benefit of great photo memory, you will hopefully walk away with some tools and tricks to remember more, retain information better, and, in general be more equipped for the reality of our business lives.
Learning through repetition
In order to retain information that I receive through reading books, attending training courses and workshops, I use repetition when reviewing the content acquired through notes and other materials available (books, audio, visual images). So, yes, this approach often requires re-reading written materials multiple times. For example, if I want to remember a particular content from the book that I’ve read or listened to, I would re-read or re-listen a specific chapter multiple times until the information is engrained in my brain. Often, the audio book that I may be listening has such an interesting content and I am unable to capture that content on paper, I would re-listen the entire book over and over until it’s forever in my brain.
I know some of you are probably thinking that it would take me a very long period of time and multiple repetitions before the information learned is forever stored in my head, and you will be absolutely correct by thinking this way. That is why I would typically be the last person leaving a test taking room or training, because, I may still be reviewing the information in my mind.
Learning through highlighting and search of takeaways
Another way that helps me to retain information learned is by highlighting key phrases and takeaways as I go through the content. You are probably thinking, “well I highlight what seems to be an important information as I study,” but the question here is - are you taking that information which you have highlighted and transferring it to your notebook to re-read at a later time until it is engrained in your brain? I do. What many of us do is highlighting key information and moving on to something new, thinking that just because we highlighted the information it will be remembered by our brain. However, unless you have a very good photographic/visual memory, even though you had highlighted few important takeaways, that information would typically be quickly forgotten without reviewing it again and again.
Learning by asking questions
In addition to re-reading information multiple times, highlighting key takeaways during study phase and taking notes, I also learn by asking questions. So, if there’s something that I am initially unfamiliar with and don’t yet have a deep level of understanding, I would find someone who does, and ask questions until all questions are answered in my head. The person who you seek to ask questions could be your colleague, teacher, parent, or your business leader who has experience in a field in question.
What’s holding us back?
What happens a lot though, many people are hesitant to ask any questions, because, they are afraid or don’t want to appear less knowledgeable in front of others. Therefore, even though they do not have a good understanding of a subject or business process, they prefer to rely on their limited understanding of the process whether it is accurate or not, in turn often making mistakes which are hard to fix. Who cares what other people may think of you? Why does that matter? It shouldn’t. One simple question to someone who may be more experienced in a specific area, could often resolve any misunderstanding or unanswered questions.
Not so surprising personal development insight
Most people enjoy when they are being approached by someone else seeking their input and guidance, and often are happy to share their knowledge with others. So, remember this next time you have a question that you need help answering. There’s only one rule when it comes to asking questions, and that is not asking the same question more than once, but other than that ask away. As Nora Roberts said: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
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