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May 21, 2019

How to be more successful personally and professionally with memorization


For most people, including myself, memorization is brutally hard. I don't have a photographic memory, although some people do, mine is just an ordinary memory. So I've never really impressed people much with my memory. But it's like everything else in your personal and professional life, a little bit is important. And it's all about priorities.

Like most people, I'm a conceptual learner, not a memorizer. I do terrible with rote stuff. But there are many places in life where rote learning, and memorization, is critical. School is the place that jumps to my mind. I never had much interest in schoolwork, but I knew that if I could do some short-term memorization I could take a test, and then get back to what I wanted to do. I taught myself this trick (and it's only a trick) early in life. As a Fine Arts Major in college, I always liked test days in my other classes, because it meant that I could leave early, and go over to the art building. I passed an accounting class with flying colors, but I really am hazy about what a "debit" and a "credit" is. If you care about that stuff, you know, but I didn't, so I memorized, and then forgot.

And since memorization is a trick, I found it a fascinating thing to do to impress people - at least on the short term. I learned at an early age that the best thing to remember is names, so I made that a priority. I treated my brain like a very weak computer, making sure not to overload the data. Who won the World Series in 1963, and what day of the week is was on the previous 21st of last month, didn't enter into my memory banks. I've never found anything to be more important personally and professionally than people, and I start with memorizing their name.

Of course, there are many other things you have to memorize, and I'm not talking about multiplication tables. This language that you're reading, English, is one of the most tangled things that I've ever had to memorize. There really is no logical pattern to it, you just have to memorize. That gives me a lot of practice my memorization with. First people's names, then the English language.

Memorization is a wonderful trick, and it's simply mental gymnastics. You don't have to memorize things that matter to you, you memorize things that matter to other people.

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