Betty Kan | Oct 06, 2008
Everything begins with the way we think, leading to the way we act and behave. By changing the way we think, we can find new ways to do things better and be better in every aspect of our lives. Mind Maps are a profound tool for effective thinking. Their contribution and impact on our thinking is impeccable.
Allow me to share with you my experiences on my journey with Mind Maps.
1. Better focus
Being pulled in different directions in the daily grind of life, trying to meet life‚Äôs competing demands and priorities and keeping my focus to accomplish all that needs to be done without distractions remain constant challenges. At times I find my thoughts straying and my thinking becomes foggy, lacking clarity. Mind Maps help to focus my mind as I would need to search and consider the most important elements of my theme to be planted on the main branches. This task requires me to drill deep into my thoughts to think about all the important factors and then prioritise them. Finding a keyword that would summarise and best represent my thoughts is the beginning of my main idea. Once I can get that going, it becomes easier to link up a continuous stream of associations, and before I know it, my thought process begins to flow almost effortlessly. At that point, my mind no longer thinks about the things that are irrelevant.
For example, when I have to prepare for a session plan for my class at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, I first focus on the objectives, followed by the learning outcome that I want my students to achieve, then the key learning points, pace and timing. If I allow these ideas to float in my head without physically pinning them down on the branches, it will not help to solidify my focus and I will tend to procrastinate my projects & tasks at hand. After prioritising the various tasks, I then decide what to work on next and allocate the amount of time accordingly.¬† This serves as my teaching agenda and it also allows me to be flexible with the sequence when I lecture and conduct tutorials. Hence Mind Maps help me to focus and make me more productive.
2. More organized
As soon as I discover the versatility of Mind Maps and their usefulness, I realise that they can be applied in virtually any area of my life. That is their true beauty. In fact, they are an instant power source anyone can easily tap into.
After familiarizing myself with the theory and practice of Mind Maps, I can use them as a system & structure to plan for my lessons when I teach or present. They are especially useful when presenting to and reviewing information with the students and participants as it is easy for anyone to follow since everything falls on one page.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‚ÄúIn this world, everything is connected to everything else.‚Äù This is so true. I can conveniently shift from one aspect of my topic to another with ease and the students can visualize how all things connect and work together to arrive at the big picture (gestalt).¬† My students‚Äô eyes would be fixated on the whiteboard as I reveal the course information through a network of colourful text, graphics and images connected by branches. I could edit the information quickly as the students contribute their ideas and add new information during our interactive discussions. It is easy to prevent drift and waffle from the agenda at hand. Likewise I could use the tool powerfully in my meetings where irrelevant ideas just won‚Äôt fit into the Mind Map of what‚Äôs being discussed.
3. Improved efficiency
Preparing for presentations using Mind Maps takes less time than writing it out in a linear form, thus making my preparation work much more efficient. It allows me to be in tune with the overview of my session plan and subject matter at all times.
Whenever an idea crops up, I can readily add it onto the relevant sub-level branch and continue to expand my thoughts without messing up my notes. I could reuse my Mind Maps for future presentations even when there are new materials to supplement, simply by adding on and expanding the original Mind Map without having to redraft everything. This form of reference saves me a lot of precious time and simplifies the process.
At the Polytechnic, my students find it extraordinary and unusual as they rarely have been exposed to this form of teaching style. It is fun and interesting as I have not had a student who falls asleep on me!
Using Mind Maps as a framework for lecture creates a greater balance between oral and written presentations with the ability to inject variation and add dimension. It is easy to move from one segment of the presentation to the other with ease of flow at the same time, allowing the students to see how every aspect of the topic is inter-related and connected to the others. Soon I see students starting to draw their own Mind Maps with their own unique expression of images and graphics.
4. No fear of failure
Understanding Tony Buzan‚Äôs mechanism for learning has helped me to plan for my success and to remove the inherent debilitating fear of failure which has been a major obstacle in my personal risk-taking efforts. In the past, the fear of failure had kept me bound to my launching pad, limiting me and preventing me from achieving my dreams to the extent that sometimes I reconciled myself to mediocrity in some areas of my life.
Recognizing that failure is just an ‚Äòevent‚Äô with no emotional bearing or negativity, I am now more courageous to try out new things and gain new experiences and be willing to open myself up. After all ‚Äòfailure‚Äô doesn‚Äôt really matter to others more than it does to me. I don‚Äôt put myself down because I fail. Rather I make it a point to draw lessons and learn from failures in order to do better at my next attempt. I now say, ‚ÄúNow that I know better, I‚Äôll do better.‚Äù Hence I am able to put ‚Äòfailure‚Äô in its proper perspective.¬† As a result, I now boldly take up the challenge to work toward my goal of becoming the best Buzan Licensed Trainer!
Tony Buzan‚Äôs ‚Äòlearning to learn‚Äô formula has taught me how to focus on everything I should do but fear to do, combating emotional paralysis which had made me a prisoner of fear in the past.
Feedback is yet another vital ingredient to true success for me. Learning to take feedback from others in the form of constructive criticism has contributed to my success, no matter how much it hurts. Tony Buzan‚Äôs teaching encourages me to seek feedback then use it to check against my bench mark and finally make the necessary adjustments. Now I do reflect on the criticism I receive from the people I care about instead of attacking, defending or avoiding criticism altogether.
5. Increased awareness
Mind Mapping trains my mind to exercise both my right and left brain skills. This is especially good for me when I consider myself a poor artist who cannot draw well. In order to create images, I will have to enter into a higher order of thinking to search for the best image or symbol to express my ideas or concepts.
Whenever I am stuck at creating the perfect image representative of the idea I have in mind, I tend to pay more attention to the details of the objects and subjects around me at the next opportunity. I then become more conscious of my environment.
For example, looking at an object, I begin to notice its contour, dimension, proportion, shadow, shading, position, angle, depth, colours, texture, smell, taste and feel around me. Soon everything appears to be more aesthetic and interesting which I have never taken notice of before. I begin to take interest in my surroundings, learn to smell the roses, enjoy life and appreciate all the wonderful creation, rather than move through life missing out on all the details of our magnificent nature. Tony Buzan mentioned, ‚ÄúWhen you are interested in everything, everything becomes more interesting.‚Äù So life is interesting. It makes it easier for me to connect and relate to others because I am better able to make connections and associations to people and the things that happen around me.
I am grateful to Tony Buzan for his incredible invention of Mind Maps. His quest to improve mental literacy on this earth makes this world a better and more colourful place to live. I believe I am now a better person and learner because of Mind Maps. I have started to believe in myself more and am able to achieve more. To Tony Buzan, ‚ÄúCheers and thank you!‚Äù
Betty Kan is a Singapore-based¬† trainer and personal branding consultant.
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