Sunday, January 15, 2012


The dictionary definition of serendipity is "pure luck in discovering things you were not looking for". Scientifically, it is explained as the very short period of time whereby our brain neurons "go out of sync", most of the time however, our brain neurons are in the lock-in phase.

You may have times whereby you are stuck in a rut when you are trying very hard to solve a problem. Then you take a break, maybe have leisure walk in the park or in my case, hit out at the gym. Eureka moment strikes. That is serendipity! Hold it, is there such good luck in life?

Being a mathematician, I think one needs to be very, very lucky to have that and I will seek out the truth behind before agreeing to such statements. I found my answer yesterday while reading the book by Steven Johnson's "Where Good Ideas Come from".

What happens is the collision of existing ideas in our brain and making new connections that enable us to have the ah-ha moments. So if you have to increase the "hit-rate" of such ah-ha moments, you will have to absorb new ideas from the outside world.

As Johnson shared, reading remains as an unsurpassed vehicle for the transmission of interesting new ideas and perspective. We can block out time to read around the edges of our work schedule, listen to audio books during the morning commute hours. One problem with assimilating new ideas at the fringes of daily routine is that the potential combinations are limited by the reach of our memory. For example, if you take 2 weeks to finish a book, you may have forgotten much of it when you get to read the next book. Furthermore, if you immense in a single author's perspective, it is harder to create serendipity collision between ideas of multiple authors.

One suggestion is to read many books by different authors at the same time. I read that Bill Gates will carve out dedicated periods - in the form of annual reading vacation - where he would read a large and varied collections of books and essay, much of which are unrelated to the day-to-day operation of Microsoft.

For ordinary people like you and me, we could not afford such luxury, so my suggestion is to read many books/ magazines at one go. At the same time, train our memory. Yes, you can good memory! If you are interested to know how, you can read the following article on "Do you have good memory" by Nishant Kasibhatla. Thanks to my asociation with the Toastmasters' Club, I have the great fortune to meet and see Nishant in action. He is a Grand Master of Memory at The World Memory Championships and the CEO of Memory Vision - The Memory Training Company.

Do You have Good Memory, Nishant Kasibhatla

Can you remember any information fast? Can you recall information whenever you want?
If your answer for the above questions is "No" or "sometimes", then you need to know about the 3 stumbling blocks of memory improvement. Just the awareness of these blocks would also help you in a great way. So what are thee blocks?
1. Disbelief
Most people have an "amazing level" of disbelief on their memory capacity that they don't even try to memorise new information.
If I write a 50-digit number and ask anyone to memorize, I usually get some great answers like:
"You mean the whole 50 digit number? "I think I will never be able to do it" "Come again. Memorize what?" "It will take an year for me" etc
Well, I do not find fault with any of the above responses. But what is interesting to note is that no one wants even to try it. What causes such disbelief in people in their memory power? The simple answer is "lack of awareness".
Your brain is the most amazing machine on the planet. If you train your brain, nothing is impossible. Make sure you give your memory it's true value.
Many people brag about their memory, but don't do anything to make it good. You just can't wish to improve your memory. You need to act. You have to give your memory a good workout.
The next time you want to memorise anything, just make a committed effort to memorize it. Believe that you can do it. You will be surprised with the result.
2. Disinterest
You know that interest plays a vital role in the process of memory. If you have to memorise any information, YOU HAVE TO BE INTERESTED IN IT!
If you don't, then it will be difficult to memorize it. Trying to memorize information, without getting interested in it, is a great way to waste your precious time.
Try to find out ways and means of making the information fun to learn. Try to find an expert on that information and discuss the topic with him. The expert can explain the same information in a way you could never think of. Well, that's why he is an expert!
Remember this: If the information is not interesting enough, it's your duty to make sure it is interesting.
3. Disuse
The fastest way to forget information is to not use it in your day-to-day life. Research indicates that people forget about 80% of the new information they learn in as less as 24 hours. Unbelievable, isn't it? To stop this loss of information, you have use the information you learn as much as possible.
Some ideas are:
1. Teach the information to someone else.
2. Discuss the points with your peers.
3. Write a summary in your own words.
4. Write an article about it!
5. Think how can you teach it to any 5 years old kid.
Memory improvement is not possible unless you kick the three stumbling blocks out of your way. Eliminating these blocks early on in the process of memorizing can save you a mighty amount of time and mental energy.
Coming out of the traps of disbelief, disinterest and disuse is you first step to memory improvement. It's easy. If only you take action.Nishant Kasibhatla is a Grand Master of Memory at The World Memory Championships. He is the CEO of Memory Vision - The Memory Training Company.

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