Me: Hey, I read book X it was great!
Friend: Oh really tell me about it!
Of course I couldn’t remember anything, I’d just read without any strategy other than finishing. It feels good to finish something but all I was just overloading my brain with more information than I could remember. Memory is infinitely complex but I feel pretty safe in saying that overall you’re more likely to remember something you said over something you heard, something you wrote over something you read, your idea over someone else's idea, your actions over others actions.
Out of all those in terms of retention reading is probably close to the bottom and action is close to the top (probably at the top). That doesn't mean I stopped reading I just read smarter. Whenever I read I had my notepad next to me. I’d read until I got an idea, and then I’d write and think about it. I’d think about ways to implement it in my coaching sessions (I usually read about how to teach) or in some other area of my life. I asked questions and to understand it more. Does this make sense? Under what conditions is this not true? What are the variables? Do I have an example of this being true from experience?
So now I’m writing about it, thinking about it (cognizing if you want to get fancy) and I’m thinking of ways to put the ideas into action. I’d not only increase my ability to recall what I wrote ( memory is really the wrong thing to be focusing on, more on this in another post) but I was deepening my understanding and creating functional recall.
When I’d try the ideas out in coaching session I was creating a functional use of the information. That’s what functional recall is, the ability to recall something when you need it. When I learned about this method of teaching that involved pretending you believed something false I stopped reading and then wrote about it. That same week I tried it out on my student and it worked perfectly. He had to work hard to defeat my idea and in doing so he gained a deeper understanding of the game. The best part was telling him at the end that I agreed with him the whole time.
When I was reading about the importance of revisiting subjects I went thru the same process. I then read about interconnectivity, so I wrote/thought about whether poker is interconnected. Interconnectivity is just a fancy way of saying learning about X means you also learn about Y. I realized that a lot perhaps of all of the game of poker was interconnected (flop, turn and river play are all interconnected for example). I then realized I could also combine my knowledge of this with revisiting subjects to create a great learning plan for my students. We’d learn about A (open raising for example), then we’d learn about an interconnected B (3betting), then we’d revisit A with a deeper understanding. Then we’d go back to B or go to C (4betting) with an even deeper understanding. My students (and myself) learned not only deeply but quickly through this method and it was a lot of fun too.
I couldn’t of gained this ability if I didn’t take notes and think of ways to use the information. Don’t just read, that’s what everyone does. This is the best conversations I ever had with my backer, it's so simple, it happened over 5 years ago and it changed my entire mindset:
Him: What do you do to study for heads up poker.
Me: I just play.
Him: That’s what everyone does. That’s what the fish does.
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