“Of all the things in life I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”
I was walking back to my office at Curry College last week when I caught up with a student who, interestingly enough, chose us as her place to study in part based on a mock class that I taught and in which she was a participant.
I say “participant” because, when you come into one of my classes, you kind of get sucked into the whirlpool and become an unwitting member of the conversation whether you planned to or not. Well, she did, and we had a ton of fun!
But…back to our chance meeting. She had been planning her spring semester classes and had tentatively signed up for my “Principles of Public Relations” class.
After some exploratory chatting, though, she and I both agreed that perhaps she should take another course first, “Introduction to Mass Communication,” in which she could get an overview of the whole “world” of communication and better identify where her interests lie.
Her parting words have stuck with me ever since: “I’m getting so much good advice from everyone. I really should start writing things down.”
So we had just spent an invigorating 15 minutes parsing her nascent communication studies, and my carefully-considered advice will most likely have floated past the ozone layer before I’m even out of sight.
We’re all busy. We all have three more things on our respective plates than any sane human being could hope to accomplish in his or her allotted lifespan.
Stuff gets lost in the shuffle. Good intentions fall by the wayside.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. In just three words, there is a remedy. Write it down.
I’m not offended if you ask me to hang on a sec while you find a piece of paper and a pen to jot down a note. In fact, I’m impressed that you are engaged enough and interested enough that you want to make sure you capture the essence of our conversation.
But that “capture” isn’t going to happen unless you take the proactive step of recording the information.
That “memory” that you’re so proud of is going to bail on you, and you’re going to be left with that uneasy feeling that something is missing. You can’t remember what. You just know it’s missing.
I tried for a very brief period carrying a miniature tape recorder (you do remember tape recorders, don’t you?!?) so that I could capture thoughts, ideas, recommendations, etc., for future use.
The exercise was simply too weird for me. Talking to myself…or in this case, talking to a machine…didn’t work.
So I started carrying a pocket-sized notebook and made sure I always had a pen…just in case.
Can’t tell you how many times I pulled that puppy out to jot something down…and then referred to it later on.
It’s the mark of a professional to be attentive to detail, which includes capturing information and ideas as they arise…not trying to “reconstruct the scene of the crime” hours…or days…later.
So consider this conversation today as the first step in your professional evolution.
Then, put yourself in situations where you are having conversations that are valuable and filled with information you need to move ahead.
Then…write it down!
“I remember the way we parted,
“I remember the way we parted,
The day and the way we met;
You hoped we were both broken-hearted
And knew we should both forget.”
Algernon Charles Swinburne, “A Match”