Making connections

In school I was a great test-taker. I studied, I regurgitated…and then I promptly lost most of that hard work. This is why I made a 5 on the AP Calculus exam but can’t do basic algebra now.

Creative Commons "The Bermuda Triangle" by NOAA's National Ocean Service's photostream is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “The Bermuda Triangle” by NOAA’s National Ocean Service’s photostream is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This week I learned in my “coaching and the brain” class what created this mental Bermuda Triangle. By preparing myself to respond to test-type questions – for which I was supposed to know the (one) right answer – I was taking in isolated bits of information and not connecting them well to concepts that were already in my longer-term memory. That meant the knowledge never got fully assimilated.

Coaches, however, ask discovery-type questions. These queries are open-ended. They are designed to help the respondent comb his/her memory for various pieces of information and then build bridges between them to create new ideas. That’s what (ideally) leads to “aha!” moments.

No matter how life-changing these new ideas are, however, they can be sucked down into the Bermuda Triangle too if they are not quickly applied. Brain research shows that concepts must be acted upon within 24-72 hours if they are to find a home in long-term memory. In other words, use it or lose it.

I will be asking more questions in upcoming coaching calls to help coachees “lock in” the good work they are doing. What great ideas do you need to act on right now – at least in part – so that they don’t disappear, never to be heard from again?

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