Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank, Part 3 thousand hours. That’s how much time you must invest before you can master a new skill, as some experts claim. To build your Knowledge Bank, you must master the third part of the trilogy, application, which follows discipline and assimilation.

When you apply what you have learned, you practice or “try on” your new knowledge before you master it. How does it fit into your work and your life? For example, if you have learned a new method to better facilitate meetings, then begin using it in your next meeting. Adjust it where needed. As you use this new knowledge, ask questions like, “How else could I use this knowledge?” or “Is there some other way I can apply it?”

Author Napoleon Hill wrote the classic book, Think and Grow Rich in 1937, outlining 13 principles for leading a successful life. The fourth in the list is specialized knowledge. When I first read this book in the 1980s as a young professional, I was impressed with how simple Hill’s writing was. I remember him speaking of the importance of applying what you learn. With application comes knowledge. All these years later, Hill’s advice is still fresh and meaningful to me.

Consider the beauty and tranquility of a Japanese garden. The gardener must learn various techniques for carefully pruning shrubs and trees, meticulously sweeping leaves, and raking gravel to create traditional patterns. It takes months and years of practice to become master gardener of a Japanese garden.

What is different about the Knowledge Bank that I have covered in these past three posts is that it belongs to you, and you can build your bank so that it provides riches to you and to others. When you invest your knowledge in others, it pays dividends in their lives and in yours. You will feel good knowing that you played an important role in helping others learn and grow.

How much do you have invested in your Knowledge Bank?

How are you sharing your knowledge wealth with others?

Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank, Part 2


Image by Anna Langova

How often have you attended a presentation at a conference or professional association event, taken a mountain of notes, come home and filed them away for “further reading.” And…you guessed it…”further” never happens.

Once you have disciplined yourself to learn (last week’s blog post), you are ready to assimilate, that is, absorb the information. As you absorb it, don’t just read the words; let them seep into your memory so that as you study it, you begin to understand it and how it works. Ultimately, you will be able to easily recall the new information from memory when you pick it apart and add meaning to it. Without meaning, all you have are just words on a page.

How can you assimilate when you are already in “information overload”? Who has the time to assimilate anyway? Here are three tools to help you:

Mind Mapping. One of my favorite tools for capturing information, taking notes and outlining a presentation is mind mapping, created by Tony Buzan. Mind mapping is a colorful way to capture information in a nonlinear, creative way rather than traditional linear note taking. It’s great if you are a visual learner. Even if you are left brained and more analytical, you can still benefit from mind mapping. Engineers in my training programs who claimed they could never use it discovered that they enjoyed it more than they initially thought.

Speed Reading. It took a school teacher, Evelyn Wood, in the late 1950s to discover speed reading. She noticed that by using the sweeping motion of her hand across a page, it acted as a visual guide as she read. She went on to establish the most recognizable speed reading course in the world. To get your eyes ready to speed read, check out this helpful eye exercise for speed reading created by Nevit Dilmen.

Memory Improvement. Mnemonic devices and images are just two examples of tools that help you remember information. As a child, you learned the alphabet using a song. To remember the length of months, it was a poem that anchored that information in my memory bank…

“Thirty days hath September…

April, June and November.

All the rest have thirty-one,

Except in Leap Year, that’s the time,

When February’s days are twenty-nine.”

A favorite site is Mind Tools. The best part: Be sure to sign up for their free weekly e-newsletter; you may get a free goodie.

As you can see, it takes a lot to not only keep up with information that’s coming at you; it requires discipline and assimilation to absorb it and remember it.

What can you do to better assimilate important information that you need to retain?

Spring Cleaning is Both Ritual and Metaphor

Detail of a cherry treeWhen I was growing up, my mother took Spring cleaning very seriously. It was that one time of year when everything, and I mean everything, was cleaned. Walls. Venetian blinds. Floors. Closets. Cupboards. Carpets. It was both a cherished yet dreaded annual ritual. Cherished because it was a symbol of putting the cold, gray days of Winter behind us and opening up the home to the freshness of Spring. Dreaded because what child “loves” to do house work? My tolerance came from knowing that I would receive a slightly larger allowance that week for the extra work performed.

Rituals – like Spring cleaning – get us through life. They serve as milestones of what lies behind and what lies ahead. Another season is ending and another beginning. Another year has passed. When that ritual serves as a metaphor, that’s when it gets really interesting.

The activity and motion of Spring cleaning can be invigorating. Don’t give me that look. Hear me out. When you throw yourself into chores with complete abandon, each completed task leaves you feeling renewed and fresh, just like the home you are cleaning. Apply that action as a metaphor to your life, and see what happens.

What lies hidden in your closets that needs to be cleaned out? Old thoughts? Old beliefs? Longtime grudges? Dust off those cobwebs in your mind. Give your thinking a good scrubbing. Clean up your behavior.

Here’s a great exercise, and it doesn’t even require any real equipment. Imagine seeing a slate in front of you. With your hand, simply wipe that slate clean by making a light sweeping motion. Wipe the slate clean. It’s a fresh start, and an effective visualization tool. Apply it to any part of your life. Now imagine your old ways of thinking that can be swept clean.

With the Winter that we have experienced this year, we are all ready for Spring. What old thinking or behavior can you dismiss and free yourself for better days ahead?