Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! Usually, we talk about leadership skills on this podcast, but these skills can only take you so far. Having a strong memory will set you apart as a leader and as an asset to your organization. But is your ability to hold onto memories really something that can be taught? Or are you stuck with your biology? Today on The Champion Forum podcast, Jeff interviews Jennifer Little-Fleck, host of the Autobiology Bits podcast to talk about how you can boost your memory and become a better leader.
Why should leaders care about proactively sharpening their memory skills?
Leaders are faced with a variety of leadership challenges and emergent situations. They have to network and quickly think on their feet about situations involving new people. Part of memory is wanting to remember. Tie it to your goals and your purpose. Understanding the mechanics of memory will help you remember people’s names, prepare and deliver speeches, and keep up with people half your age.
Q: How would you rate your current memory on a scale of 1-10? How would your life look different if you could improve your memory by 20%? 50%? What goal would you be able to achieve if you could improve your memory? Why?
“It’s not always that you’re forgetting. It’s that you never took the time to learn.” - Jennifer Little-Fleck
The Science of Memory
We used to think that you were born with the number of neurons you would have forever, but now we know that neurogeneration takes place in the hippocampus. Your prefrontal cortex takes in new information and within six seconds, it decides if it is important. If your brain is interested, the memory is stored in your hippocampus. The best way to work on taking that information from short-term to long-term memory is by practicing memory retrieval.
Some ways to remember:
The testing effect
Write down what you know about a subject without talking through it with anyone else or studying it. Do this over and over. When you do, you’ll make more synaptic connections and learn more.
You can do this by writing down what you want to remember or creating a picture in your mind.
Make emotional connections
Storytelling is another way to remember things. The part of your brain that stores memories works with the amygdala, which processes emotions. Always try to make your stories positive because the brain wants to remember good things and forget bad things.
B - Believe in your ability to remember.
E - Exercise your brain.
S - Say the name (or thing you want to remember).
U - Use it in a sentence.
A - Ask a question.
V - Visualize it.
E - End with it. Say their name (or the information) as you close the encounter.
Incorporate a motor skill into your memory. Gerald Ford would imagine writing a person’s name on their forehead, and visualizing it on their forehead, he would remember it.
Optimize your health
Your body functions best when it is using ketones for energy. You can create ketones through a ketogenic diet or by delaying your first meal of the day by intermittent fasting.
Sleep is a key part of the memory consolidation process. Research shows that when the same amount of time to study, students who got a full night of sleep did better than those who studied late into the night.
Q: Which of these strategies stood out to you? Are you doing any of them right now? Are there any other memory retention strategies that you are familiar with? How well do they work? Which of these strategies do you want to try first? Where will you try it out?
In the episode, Jennifer talks about an exercise where you memorize ten words. This week, find a list of 10 random words and create a story using them every morning and test your memory at night. This brain training exercise will help you learn how to store things in your long-term memory!
How well are you taking care of your body? Think about your habits like your diet, exercise, sleep, and water intake. Choose one area that you want to work on this week. Remember that your brain functions better when your body is healthy!
Prior to this episode, why did you think you had a difficult time remembering things? Did the episode change your opinion? Remember that you can only remember what you want to remember and what you think is important. This week, try to incorporate the BE SUAVE approach to remembering names and other information. Remember that you are not doing it to be polite, you are training your brain, increasing your influence, and becoming more aware of your surroundings.