There was this very rich, good old Texan billionaire, who threw a Texas-sized bash for his daughter. Now he was a very rich Texan with tens of thousands of acres of land, thousands of cattle, hundreds of producing oil wells, a large twenty-nine room mansion with a swimming pool, and a beautiful young daughter.
For this party he invited all the eligible young men of the county to meet his daughter. After the party had been going on for some time, he called everyone out to the pool for an announcement. He lined all the young men at one end of the Olympic-sized pool, which he had filled with snakes and alligators, and said, “The first one of you who jumps into the pool and swims to the other end, I will give him the choice of one million dollars, a thousand acres of choice land, or the hand of my daughter in marriage.”
No sooner were the words out of the Texan’s mouth when there was a splash at the far end and a streak through the water. A young man emerged, setting what must have equaled an Olympic record.
The Texan approached the young man and asked if he wanted the million dollars? The man said, “No, sir.” Then he was asked if he wanted the thousand acres. Again the young man said, “No, sir.”
“Well then, son,” said the Texan, “you must want the hand of my lovely daughter in marriage?”
“Thank you, but no, sir,” replied the young man.
“Well then, just what is it that you do want?”
“What I want, sir, is the name of the dude who pushed me in the pool!”
Sometimes in life, we need a little push (P.U.S.H.) to get us going, to get to the other side of whatever it is we want to accomplish.
I experienced my own such event in 2000, that P.U.S.H. ed me.
I met two guys in Toastmasters when I was living in Seattle at the time trying to hone and perfect my public speaking skills.
The guys, John and Greg, had a coaching business where they taught professionals accelerated learning techniques.
For those of you not familiar with accelerated learning, it is essentials skills, tips, tools, and techniques to help someone learn quickly, and to actually retain and remember what they learned in a short amount of time.
Accelerated learning works with how we naturally learn, via auditory (hearing/listening), visually (seeing) and kinesthetic (touch).
At the time, I was studying for the MCSE Database Administrator exam. It was a test to get certified to be a database administrator. Without sounding to boring, I basically wanted to run and manage databases.
What I realized during this course was that I had no freaking idea how to learn.
In school we never really learned “how” to learn, we just learned “what” to learn.
I made it my quest to read, take courses, and learn anything and everything that I could get my hands on that would help me learn faster.
I have since read at least a dozen books on this subject along with NLP and a host of other learning modalities.
(Note: I will list some of my favorite books on the subject at the end of this post.)
Here is the Reader’s Digest version on Accelerated Learning:
There are really six main areas when it comes to accelerated learning
- How the brain works
- Your Learning Style
- Your Environment
- Improving Your Memory
- Speed Reading
1) How the brain works
- The hemispheres
- Brain wave
- Conscious & subconscious
The most important thing worth noting is that we have two hemispheres, the left brain and the right brain, and that each has its own unique function.
The right brain and the left brain have their own unique contributions. Check out this great infographic.
According to Dr. Joe McCullough, in his book, Accelerated Learning Techniques for Students,
“Everything that we see all the information we receive through our eyes get sent to our visual cortex. If you take one up your hands and placed it on the back of your head your hand will be directly above visual cortex. If you cup your hands over your ears this is approximately where your auditory cortex is located on each side of your brain. And finally everything that we do with our bodies all of the information we receive through our tactile senses such as temperature, texture, body position, and pain, gets sent to our somatosensory and motor cortex or the part of brain that deals with tactile/touch/physical senses. If you run one of your hands from ear to ear over the top of your head, your hand will trace out the approximate position effect of your somatosensory and motor cortex.”
Here is a great video if you want to learn more about the brain and the cortex (Time: 8:21):
You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to understand how the brain works.
Just know that we have two hemispheres, and that the brain stores the what, how, when, why, where, who in our brain dependent on how we receive that information. Also note that your emotions play an enormous part and influence how well the information gets stored and how well we will later recall that data.
If something is of really importance to us and it ranks high on our “values” list, we will make every concerted effort to store and remember that. Your values list, are those things that are important to you.
For example, health, is really high on my values list, so if I see, hear and or physically experience something in and around the subject of health I will make sure that I remember it.
This is what is called the reticular activating system (RAS for short).
Your RAS acts as a filter, it focuses on those things that you are most interested in, check out this great video on the RAS:
The next thing to understand is the brain has what are called brain waves.
The human brain has four different types of frequencies: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta. Throughout the course of one’s day a person will go from one frequency to the next depending on the various internal and external factors that he or she experiences.
Hand eye coordination
When you are in the beta frequency or state you are wide-awake, alert. Your mind is sharp, focused. Your brain makes connections quickly and easily. In this state you are ready, willing, and able to do just about any job that comes your way that involves your full concentration and attention. Beta waves range between 13-40 HZ.
The alpha state is associated with being truly relaxed. Your awareness expands and your creative energy begins to flow. There is a sense of peace, well-being, and deep relaxation. In addition the alpha frequency best known for the Schuman Resonance – the resonant frequency of the earth’s electromagnetic field. Alpha waves range between 7-12 HZ.
The theta frequency is more widely associated with deep relaxation or states of meditation where brain activity slows almost to the point of sleep. In theta you experience heightened receptivity, inspiration, and your long-forgotten memories. It is an ideal state for super-learning, re-programming your mind, dream recall, memory, and self-hypnosis. Theta waves range between 4-7 HZ.
Delta is the slowest of all four brain wave frequencies. Most commonly associated with deep sleep, certain frequencies in the Delta range also trigger the release of Human Growth Hormone that is beneficial for healing and regeneration. Oftentimes the delta frequency is associated with the subconscious. Delta waves range between 0-4 HZ.
So when it comes to learning its best to be in an alpha state. You want to be in a relaxed and confident state.
Another thing to understand about the brain is that we have what is called a conscious brain and a subconscious brain.
The conscious brain is when you are wide awake and alert. In essence you are in charge or at least you think you are. However we also have a silent back seat driver that comes in the form of our subconscious brain.
The subconscious brain is the part of the brain that is on automatic pilot.
Here is a great video, that can better explain it far better than I can (Time: 2:16 minutes):
Here is a great image on the conscious, unconscious, and subconscious mind:
Your Learning Style
Your learning style really depends on what you favor learning modality you favor most.
One great way to find out what learning style you might tend to lean toward, is to observe and take note of the words you use on an ongoing basis.
A phrase such as, “Can you hear what I’m saying?” can provide insight into the very person that is saying this. A person saying this might have a strong disposition toward auditory words and phrases. If upon hearing a phrase such as, “It’s clearly obvious can’t you see it?” that such a phrase might show a strong disposition toward visual words and phrases. And a phrase such as, “Can you do this?” might indicate a strong disposition toward kinesthetic words and phrases. Now of course these are all gross generalizations, it does provide one with a good starting point at identifying ones particular predisposition.
And from that you can begin to determine what learning style you favor: auditory, visual and or kinesthetic.
Another great way to determine your learning style, is to ask yourself, among the four mainstream ways to learn: speaking, reading, writing and listening, which two do you prefer the most?
Just choose two. Which ever two you choose can say a lot about your particular learning style.
For example, I love to read and listen, and as such that is my preferred learning methods.
The environment you choose to learn in is critical to your overall success. you want to make sure that you have the proper learning space which would include: location, lighting, organization, temperature, and ergonomics.
If your learning environment is free from clutter and distractions the amount that you actually learn and remember was significantly increase. Choose a place that really motivates you to learn. As each and every one of us has our own unique style, interests, likes, and tastes the environment will vary according. Just make sure that the environment allows you to focus and concentrate on whatever it is you are interested in learning.
Improving Your Memory
There are host of things you can do to improve your memory even down to the types of foods we choose to eat. I’m going to cover just the basics which begins with mnemonics. According to Tony Buzon in his book, Study Skills, ”a mnemonic may be a word, a picture, a system or other device that will help you to recall a phrase, a name or a sequence of facts.”
Students learned music are often taught the phrase Every Good Boy Deserves Favor to help them remember the notes EGBDF.
If you want to improve your memory imagination and Association are extremely important because your brain will remember those pieces of information that are unusual, full of color, and that can connect pieces of information to already existing memories.
For example, if I want to remember a person’s name and let’s say for example his name is Carlos. I will think of the first thing that comes to mind and for me the first thing that comes to mind is the guitarist Carlos Santana. So I might imagine Carlos Santana taking his guitar smashing the face of this person.
It’s not the most elegant nor is it the most politically correct but it works for me and I guarantee you I will remember this guy’s name in the future.
Another great tool I use to help me is what is called memory pegs. Basically a memory peg is something that you will attach a specific piece of information to. usually Normally I like to use a familiar room in my house and I imagine myself entering the room and either from right to left or left to right which is essentially counterclockwise or clockwise I close my eyes and tried to remember all the pieces of furniture in that room. Then for example if I have a list that I need to remember I will in some way using my imagination associate each of these pieces of information to pieces of furniture in the room. It’s a good idea to use familiar rooms because believe it or not rooms in our house we pretty much know like the back of our hand.
So recalling the pieces of information associated with each piece of furniture in the room of your choice will make it super easy to remember and recall.
When it comes to mnemonics and memory pegs you want to make it as outlandish as possible. The images that you are using need to be exaggerated, crazy and wild, assorted colors, and if you can use your five senses all the better.
In my opinion speed reading is extremely helpful. The challenge comes in trying to make sense of all the tools and techniques to increase the speed at which you read. probably the biggest concern most people have is that by increasing their reading time the amount of comprehension may decrease. That is actually not true.
Three great tips to help you read faster:
- Eliminate subvocalization: this is when you say the words to yourself. It is this inner voice that is reading along side of you that is actually slowing you down.
- Use a visual guide: use your finger or two fingers, or a pen to help guide your eyes. Our eyes have a tendency to drift and is a cause of many slow readers. By using a guide you help your eyes focus.
- Read in chunks of 3-4 words: This one is common sense. We are taught to read one word at a time when in fact we are capable of reading 3-4 words grouped together, below is a great practice example:
When you read the first line, you read one word, as you progress try to read in groups of 3-4 words, like “to kill two” and then “birds with” .
You might want to start with chunking 2 words then work your way up.
Probably the best analogy I read that really explains why we need a better strategy when it comes to studying and reading is that of a jigsaw puzzle. Normally a personal will look at the top of the box to get a better understanding of the complete picture before one embarks on trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle.
The same strategy needs to be applied when studying and reading a book.
Here is a fantastic strategy to read a book in just one hour, without having to read the entire thing. this strategy is from Sebastian Archer in his book,” Learning 300% Faster 25 Learning Techniques”
- Prepare to work through the book 3 times
- First time, about 5 to 10 min., read the front cover and back cover. Read the introduction and conclusion. Also read the contents. Just read them all, nice and quickly.
- Use of colored pen or highlighter and highlight all that interests you.
- Second time, take about 15-20 minutes. read the first page of every chapter. Only the first page – if you see a story as the first thing skip it get to the meat. What are they saying? most books can say their major points and lessons in just 10 or 20 pages. But they have to make a 200 word book for the publishers to sell it. So they fill it up with stories and repetition. Just find the main point of chapter as quickly as you can. So you’re mostly skimming. Use that colored pen a lot to highlight the good bits of information.
- Third time, about 30-35 min. Skimming through the whole book only read the first sentence of each paragraph. No more.
- Stop reading.
- Write up a few notes – the main lessons from the book. Use a mind map.
Originated in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan, Mind Maps are powerful graphic techniques that provide a universal key to unlocking the potential of the human brain. The Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance. Mind maps take advantage of a skill that is already inherent to most of us. Let me explain by providing you an example. Have you ever asked for directions say for example when you were lost?
(For all the men out there who are reading this, you are free to substitute the word lost with exploring.)
Can you recall the directions that were given to you? Chances are good that the person giving you directions provided visual landmarks as opposed to the actual street names. For example, a person giving you directions may say, “Make a left turn at the stop sign, go straight past two stop lights; and then make a right at the third stop light; on the right hand side there is a gas station and on the left there is a super market. If you past the gas station and the super market you have gone too far.”
Below is a sample mindmap:
Have you ever wondered why that was? Why don’t we give directions like those provided by Google Maps or Yahoo maps?
Well for starters our brain is more complex. Our brain processes a multitude of cortical skills such as words, numbers, logic, colors, images and spatial awareness. Depending on our tendencies each of us may have a stronger preference toward one over the other. Our brains also have a tendency to remember and process colors and images more easily. This is why mind maps are extremely helpful.
In May 2002, a trio of psychologists (Felix Wichmann, Lindsay Sharpe and Karl Gegenfurtner) sought to delve deeper into this phenomenon and learn for themselves the impact that color has on our memory. They conducted ﬁve experiments (participants, in order, numbered 36, 34, 31, 20 and 20) to explore color’s role in memory for natural scenes such as forests, rocks and ﬂowers. In the basic experiment, participants looked at 48 photographs, half in color and half in black and white. Then, they viewed the same 48 images randomly mixed with 48 new images, and indicated if they had seen (or not) each picture. Participants remembered the colored natural scenes signiﬁcantly better than they remembered black and white images, regardless of how long they saw the images.
Mind maps are a more formal way of taking notes. Think of the mind map as being the successor to those infamous and often shunned forms of taking notes called doodles. Although doodles are considered childlike, it is often, that this form of note taking is the preferred choice among those we considered to be geniuses.
(Right) Leonardo da Vinci, Scientist, Inventor, and Artist, 1452-1519 (Left ) Charles Eames, American Architect and Designer, 1907-1978
So there you have six areas to super charge your learning:
- How the brain works
- Your Learning Style
- Your Environment
- Improving Your Memory
- Speed Reading
I hope this posts helps to you to learn anything in the shortest time period possible.