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Boost Your Memory and Become a Great Leader

Topics: Career Advice

If you frequently find yourself forgetting to answer that email or show up on time to that meeting, your memory might need a boost.

Why is a good memory so important? For one thing, it’s what separates great leaders from the pack.

Leaders lead with their memory

When you’re at the top of the pyramid at work, you’ve gotten there often by hard work, perseverance and yes, a good memory. Whether you’re quoting key demographics for your market during a panel interview, or rattling off complicated numbers relating to your business, a good memory not only makes you look smarter, it shows you’re not just there for the free coffee.

“Really great leaders also know small details about their people that mean a lot to them,” writes executive coach Peter DeMarco at The Business Journals. “You will make better judgments when you know who your people really are.”

You can make memory work for you

With just eight seconds of focus, you can begin to make an important idea stick in your brain. Eight seconds in our crazy lives can feel like an eternity, so it should be plenty of time to commit that phone number, name, password or other detail to memory. You can also get Sherlock-ish by building your own “mind palace” to visualize all the important details of your life you want to remember better.

Four-time USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis went from a so-so memory to one that comes with accolades. He says it’s not that hard to build that palace in your brain. His memory palace “involves creating pictures and memorizing them along a path through a space that you know well,” he tells Fast Company.

You just might remember that million-dollar idea

We’ve all done it, and not just in the middle of the night. You have a flash of brilliance so great that you don’t bother to write it down, because “Hey, who would forget this great idea?” and then, you forget it.

Instead of relying on the momentum of your good idea to carry you into greatness, work on ways to record those ideas for posterity’s sake. That might mean using a mnemonic device, having a dedicated voice dictation app on your phone for those on-the-go ideas, or even just carrying a little notebook to write down your thoughts.

Feed your memory with more sleep

Really, the best way to give your memory skills a little boost is to get more sleep. Research shows that “memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories.” And remembering how to do something is locked into your brain only during REM sleep (when you also dream) so you want to make sure you’re getting a full night of rest, not just some cat naps.

Hit the gym for better memory

You can also help your memory by moving more. Studies show that increase in regular exercise can help your memory skills as well.

You get more blood pumped to your brain, reduce inflammation in the body and release helpful memory-boosting growth factors — that’s right, you can literally grow parts of your brain by exercising!

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