We were packing today for a provincial home school conference this weekend where our family will be a vendor. I flipped through a book I wrote back in 2012 titled, “Developing the Business Your Always Wanted.” I have reproduced a short section from that book for you today on the Five Steps Of Learning And Retention.
Learning – the acquisition of new information or knowledge, and Retention – the ability to capture that information and recall it when wanted or needed, is actually a process that involves five steps:
First, is Impact. That is, actually receiving the idea in your mind. Impact can be in the form of a word, a visual observation or a concept. It makes no difference. Your mind is not capable of making a distinction between a visual or an actual experience. Nor is it capable of determining the difference between a conscious or an unconscious impact an idea may have on you. As far as your mind is concerned, those experiences are all the same and your mind will accept them, regardless.
If information or an experience appears real to your mind, your emotions and nervous system will react as though it were actually real.
To illustrate this point, try this simple experiment:
Seat yourself in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor and your hands resting comfortably in your lap. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, let it out slowly and relax. Take another one. Let it out slowly. Relax even more. Picture in your mind a lemon resting on a table in front of you. Visualize it. See it clearly. Look at its shape – its colour – its texture. Now, mentally reach out with your hand and pick up the lemon. Bring it up to your face. Look at it closely. Squeeze it. Do you notice how firm it feels? Feel the texture of the lemon’s dimply and waxy skin. Notice the lemon’s yellow colour and round shape, with its pointy ends. Now, hold it up to your nose. Smell it. Do you notice the lemon’s citrusy smell? Place the lemon on the table and mentally pick up a knife that is laying nearby. Cut the lemon in two. Pick up one half of the lemon and see the juice dripping from it. Bring the lemon up to your nose. Smell it again. Now bite into the lemon. What’s happening to you right now? Is saliva flooding your mouth, both in your mind, as well as physically?
Now consider what just happened. In actuality, there was no lemon. You just pictured one in your mind. While this was just a mental exercise, and the lemon was just imagined, chances are, if you are like most people, the mental image you were playing on the screen of your mind triggered certain responses which manifested themselves physically. So, you can see by this demonstration, that Impact, is a critical step involved in the process of learning and retention.
The second step is Repetition. One university study revealed that an idea that was read or heard only one time was 66% forgotten within 24 hours. But if that same idea was read or heard repeatedly for 8 days, up to 90% of it could be retained at the end of the eight days. So once you have read this manual all the way through, go back and read it again. But this time read with a highlighter, a pencil and notepad handy. Mark up the book. Write down the ideas you feel fit your personal business situation. This repetition will help you retain more of the information than if you had read it only once.
The third step in the learning and retention process is Utilization. This is the “doing” step. It is here that neuromuscular pathways are actually developed, creating a “mind muscle memory.” And according to the study quoted earlier, once you physically experience an action, it becomes twice as easy to recall as if you had heard it only.
Fourth, is Internalization. Actually making the idea a part of you. That may involve some customizing or tailoring of the idea to fit your situation or style, but it is vitally important for you to personalize the idea and make it “yours.”
The fifth step is Reinforcement. In order to maximize the effectiveness of an idea, you should continually be looking for ways to support and strengthen it. The more you can support the idea, the more you will believe it, the longer you will retain it, and the more effective it will become in helping you serve your customers’ needs.
Now, what does all this have to do with your business? Simply, this. In your daily business and personal activities, as well as throughout your experience with the information presented in this book, you are going to be exposed to a great number of ideas.
Some will be brand new, that is, you have never heard them before. Some will be ideas you have heard in the past, but have forgotten. And others will be ideas you come up with on your own as a result of something that was triggered in your mind as you read. Understanding and applying these five steps in the learning and retention process can help you retain more of what you read and experience.