I want to talk about your brain.
You have a million dollar brain account! When we think of the brain, most of us tend to think of this piece in the front that we think of as the pre-frontal cortex, but I’m going to be talking about your whole mind, your whole brain, and really focusing a little bit on the back of the head, the pre-conscious or sub-conscious mind. Now the relevance of this for the bar exam is that when I talk to bar students typically what they’re saying to me is something like, “I’m really struggling with how to get all of this information into my head and retain it for the purposes of the exam.” They really focus on memorization which is unfortunate because memorization essentially is limited to the capacity of our pre-frontal cortex.
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Most of the current research says that most of us can hold 6 or 7 ideas consciously in our brain at one time. That’s really not a lot and it’s why mnemonic devices become so popular because they’re a link to one of those 7 things that maybe links to 10 or 12 others or where you create an attack outline for writing. Essentially you’re still looking at a finite capacity and most people that have studied that way will tell you that it’s frustrating, time consuming, and ultimately fruitless.
I was trying to figure out how to explain the difference between using that part of your mind and using your whole brain the way that we teach and the way that we use, for example our PhotoReading product, a course developed by Learning Strategies out of Minneapolis, almost 20 years ago now.
PhotoReading is a technique in which you literally flip the pages on the material that you’re looking at very quickly. The material goes to your subconscious brain and you then activate that material through what we would describe as neuro-linguistic programming and some techniques that help get at what’s in your whole mind. The goal is to give you access to the material but the ‘catch’ is that it’s not in your conscious brain, not where you’d expect it to be. As I was trying to explain that to a student the other day, I thought of this particular analogy and I wanted to share it with you because I think it’s a good one.
A Visit from Your Banker
Assume for a minute that you are a struggling lawyer or law student and by struggling I mean you’ve been struggling to pay your bills. You’re looking at the bank balance every day, it’s really low, it’s tight. You’re worried about overdrafts and all of those kinds of problems. You’re really struggling every day to figure out just how am I going to eek out enough to keep that balance above zero today. You’re working at it and working it, and you’re looking at your mint.com account, you’re online and you’re doing all the things that you can do to figure out how to keep yourself from not overspending what little you’ve got in that account. It just never seems to be enough.
Imagine your surprise when you get a text message or an email, or phone call from your banker. They contact you and they say, “Hey, Mr. and Ms. Customer, we’re a little confused by something. We’ve been watching all of this activity that you’ve been engaged in and transferring funds around and doing things, and trying to keep your bank balance just above zero. We’re a little confused about that because we see what your checking account balance is, we have a question for you. Why aren’t using the million dollars?” “Excuse me? The million dollars? There must be a mistake.” “No, no, there’s no mistake at all. You have another account with a million dollars in it which you haven’t touched. I mean, you rarely touch it all, in fact it’s been years since you’ve opened the account but you still make daily deposits.” “Wait, I don’t have a million dollar account. Of course I don’t have a million dollar account.” “Oh yes you do. We’ve got the records they’re right here, you just haven’t touched the funds.”
So, what’s this million dollar account? For our purposes the million dollar account is your subconscious, it’s your pre-conscious brain. It’s got a wealth, literally, of information and material. Your pre-conscious brain holds everything that you’ve learned. It’s got everything you learned all the way through life including law school and the practice of law, and maybe even the prior times you took the bar exam if that’s relevant for you. All of that is there. The problem is you’re not accessing any of it. To go back to our example you think for a minute about this banker contacting you and you say, “Well that can’t possibly be because I don’t remember putting a million dollars into a bank account.” The banker says, “Well, it wasn’t all at one time and it wasn’t a big event, it was just a little bit every single day that got dropped into this account. You continue in fact to be making deposits to the account and it’s earning interest. In fact it’s now worth more than a million dollars because of that.”
“If it’s really mine, how do I get access to this million dollars?” The banker says, “Well it’s really very simple, you just transfer the money into your regular account and use it.” “Oh my gosh.” How many of you wouldn’t do that if that was a real scenario. I mean think all of us at that point would say, “Yeah, give me some of that, that would be great.” The same thing is true with our brains, we can use what’s in our pre-conscious and subconscious brain. If you’re reader of the popular science kinds of literature out there, the most prolific and successful writers is a man by the name of Malcolm Gladwell. He wrote a book called Blink a few years ago in which he talked about this intuitive sense, this pre-conscious mind that we’ve got that allows us to retain information and then we use it typically almost subconsciously or unconsciously to form decisions, make judgments. To evaluate situations that we’re faced with. The same is true here.
Drawing on Your Account
When you’re taking the bar exam, if you can learn to activate your pre-conscious or subconscious mind, now instead of having the limited capacity of your pre-frontal cortex, you’ve got the entire massive capacity of your whole brain working on your behalf. Paul Scheele at Learning Strategies describes it this way. He says, “The pre-frontal cortex, the conscious mind is like a little eye dropper, a little tea drop but our whole brain is like a huge fire hose.” Now, when you think about that, that’s an incredible benefit to have on the bar exam. If you can have access to all of that material, all of that information, the fire hose of information instead of little tiny tear dropper of our conscious brain, who wouldn’t want to do that?
That’s what we’ve experienced over the last few years as we’ve integrated PhotoReading as an option for our students but even if you’re not using PhotoReading, if you’re simply skimming and then activating the material through the lectures and the practice questions as we lay out in our program of spaced repetition, you’re getting at least a part of the benefit of that million dollar mental bank account. Here’s the really cool thing, it’s there whether you use it or not. It is there for every person who’s reading this post. All you have to do is to begin to tap into it. Part of what we do in our bar review is to help you access your own accounts, in other words, we show you the password, and how to enter it to access your brain account.
That is what we call (and I mentioned it earlier) as activation in neuro-linguistic programming terms. It simply means to take the material that’s already in your subconscious and to be able to reach into it and grab it and use it when you need it. In our course we show you how to do that on a multiple choice question, on an essay, on a performance test. It results in amazing improvements for people, once they get used to the idea that they’ve got a million dollars in their mental bank. It changes the way they live, it changes the way they study. It can do that for you as well. I hope I peaked your interest at least a little bit today and even if you’re not taking our course, even if you don’t want to do PhotoReading, even if you think all of this is crazy, (and I assure you that none of that is true) just think back for a minute to all of the things that you’ve known intuitively but didn’t know consciously, couldn’t think of right on the spot word-for-word memorized but you knew. That’s the reality of what your conscious brain and your unconscious brain can do. If you’ll start to tap into the unconscious brain you’ll find yourself with a wealth of information, ideas, abilities that you probably didn’t know that you possessed before. You don’t have to be great at memorizing and mnemonics and forming attack outlines, and having all sorts of clever devices to help you cram more information into your brain and then spit it out on the bar exam. What you really need is the opportunity to get at what’s already in your account using that to its maximum effectiveness. When you do that, I think what you’re going to discover is that you’ve got a million dollar brain! Want to know more about how to access this ‘hidden resource?’ Join us for our Free Master Class: How to Make the NEXT Bar Exam Your LAST Bar Exam. To reserve your free seat, click on the button below and we’ll see you soon.