Can you draw? I’m dismal at drawing. Even when I was a kid, I couldn’t draw. One of my best friends in grammar school was Lisa Graves, and she could DRAW.  (Still can–check out her work here. ) Lisa would try to help me to draw, and I was able to draw a frog (5 upside-down U’s, pretty much) and a dog’s face (2 circles, 3 upside down U’s and a U for the tongue). That has been the extent of my drawing skills. But if I want to improve my memory, it’s time for me to break out the crayons. Because a recent study shows that drawing improves memory performance dramatically. 

In this study they had people draw pictures of words in a list, or just list the words. Those that drew the pictures were more likely to remember the words. Then they had people draw the “definition” of a word or write it out. Once again, those who drew were more likely to remember. The most exciting aspect of these studies was how drawing was able to help those with dementia improve their memory. Drawing  does something in our brains that improves our memory.  And we can use that better memory to help us become better advocates. 

You may recall a few weeks ago we discussed that the foundation of advocacy is knowing what you stand for, and I recommended that you create mission statements for your business and for yourself. In my experience, though, many people don’t remember mission statements because they are often long and unclear. But what if you were to draw your mission statement? My personal mission statement is to bring joy, curiosity and kindness to my endeavors. If I draw those things (whatever they mean to me), I am much more likely to remember them.

Try this with your teams and yourself. Discuss your mission statement, and then draw it. In a week or so, see how well you remember your mission statement. I’d bet that the pictures stuck with you even more than words do. When it comes time to stand up for yourself, you have to know what you stand for. And drawing a picture, even a bad one, will help.





3 thoughts on “Improve Your Memory & Your Mission Statement

  1. This is so funny and I’m guessing true. Heather I wish I could start all over in life because you’ve taught me so much and I can visualize I’d be someone to reckon with I’d have so much confidence because you’ve built so much in us. Hey, not that I don’t use now what you’ve given me because I do but woah what a threat I would have been, you’ve given me so much power, I can’t be stopped. Your lessons and words are invaluable Coach!

  2. I LOVE THIS POST!! Heather is SPOT ON. With visuals, not only can you remember, you can’t forget!

    I am a FAR better communicator with visuals.

    1. Visuals help me understand what I am getting at.
    2. They help me get my point across (just having doodled)
    3. Visuals help me convey to others both with visual words and with actual doodles — right on Powerpoint — right during a presentation!!

    Here is a portion of something I was asked to write a couple of days ago. It fits with Heather’s point.

    Enliven what you are trying to say with visual words and doodles (make a frog with upside down “U’s.” Heather, whose frog will they remember? A frog like everyone else’s or yours? And they will find you adorable.

    First, realize your take is unique. It may be the same message that someone else is “saying,” but yours has a twist, and you need to convey that. Therefore, you need to have a special way of bringing out the differences. What are some words that will enable people to envision your take on your concept? Some squiggles and lines and circles?

    Consider any and all metaphors and abnormal visual depictions (they often starting with “like” or “as”). You can also make up the perfect adjectives or verbs as long as you are being yourself. For instance, “a substance that snakes down the river, growing longer at every turn.” “Or an arrogant, balloon headed guy who raises himself up to the ceiling as if filled with helium.” Try not to picture that!

    Most fun of all, by using visuals, you will light up your entire brain while at once you will bring yourself to a fuller and deeper understanding of your point, more and more. The truth is, when words and pictures combine, your entire brain actually and scientifically lights up. The image becomes engraved in your brain and body and never forgets — Neither do the people to whom you serve your message. They remember your message and YOU and they can’t forget.

    You can make any idea become visceral, visual, and unforgettable, for yourself and for others. As Dan Roam says, “You can draw anything you want. This isn’t art; — it’s clear thinking made visible.”

    So, just draw it. Just doodle it. Making it artistic is not the point, in fact, focusing on making it “look good” inhibits the flow of the message. The visual will go flat because it is not straight from your brain (though, your point), to your hand to the eyes of the beholders. It has all that fancying up in between. Boring. Use circles, arrows, and blobs to show your point straight from the source!

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