The Things You Don’t Know That You Forget BY SOULAIMA GOURANI
As a person, I am always curious to know how I can perform better, enjoy further, and learn more. I am driven by it. I have many maxims, challenge myself regularly, and allow myself to be challenged by the people I meet. The other day, one of my colleagues really gave me something to think about.
Flaccid Brain I have a driver to take me to my appointments on the very long days. I have noticed that he never writes anything down when we make plans for the following week. He just listens. We agree on pickups, routes, times for when to be at a certain location, etc. I am sitting there frantically flicking through the pages of my calendar, while he just sits there quietly and does nothing but listen. He is always on time and never takes the wrong way. I am impressed! One day, I asked him why he doesn’t take notes so that he wouldn’t have to remember it all in his head. I think that it is practical to write stuff down in order to get it out of my head. I thought that I was doing myself a favor by not keeping everything in my head. He just smiled and said, “Well, I actually want to remember it. But if I write it down, my brain becomes flaccid and slow, and over time, I will end up forgetting things—and I don’t want that to happen.” That gave me something to think about! A flaccid brain—who would want that? I started thinking about all the information that I store on my phone: the events in my calendar and everything that actually means that I don’t remember anything or, perhaps more correctly, that I don’t forget anything—or is it the other way around? As a matter of fact, my driver actually made me wonder if I was doing my brain a favor or a disservice! It feels great not forcing the brain to remember anything by storing all the information on a smartphone because I feel more relaxed when I don’t have to remember a lot of small details. Unfortunately, I have to accept the fact that today I, more or less, only remember my grandmother’s phone number (and she died many years ago), my mother’s old number, and my best friend’s digits in my head. All other phone numbers are stored in the mobile phone. It’s quite surprising to realize how few numbers I can remember in my head. I Think It Is “Important” to Take Notes I attended many meetings when I worked for Maersk Data and, later on, Hewlett-Packard (it is not unusual for big organizations to have many meetings). At these meetings, the participants were expected to take notes—even if they did not look at the notes again after a meeting was finished. In many companies, it is perceived as being disrespectful not to take notes, especially to the colleagues hosting the meeting. You are sending an indirect signal that nothing on the agenda is important enough that you need to “remember” the meeting later on. It Starts with Phone Numbers However, it is not only phone numbers that I no longer store in my head. The same is true with names, passwords, the kids’ social security numbers, addresses, routes, shopping lists, and so on. Just to dwell on the issue about addresses and finding one’s way—it is “funny” that the number of accidents on the roads are increasing together with the mainstream adoption of GPS equipment. Perhaps we should consider starting to think rather than just trusting the navigation console 100 percent.
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