Motivation: Are You Not Meeting Your Full Potential? with Jim Kwik

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

It’s often been said that knowledge is power, but how many times have we learned new information from a lecture or a self-help book, but then forgotten the information soon after, never implementing it into our lives? In the third episode of a series with learning expert Jim Kwik, Dr. Amen and Tana Amen discuss techniques you can use to take new information and use it, not lose it.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warriors Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brainspect imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warriors Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutriceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're here with our friend Jim Kwik. This is so interesting. We're talking about learning and memory. We're also going to talk about procrastination in this episode. And you were talking about FAST. So review the F and the A for us, and then let's keep talking about this.
Jim Kwik: So, to learn any subject or skill I recommend these four things, F-A-S-T. The F is forget, which you already know about a subject, [inaudible 00:01:16] you can learn something new. Forget about distractions, forget about your limiting beliefs.
The A was Active, meaning learning is not a spectator sport. So how do you take notes in a way. And I did a podcast episode on how to take information and turn it into action because I believe one of the biggest lies in the personal development self-help space, or high performance spaces, knowledge is power. It's not; it's only the potential to be power. It only becomes power when we apply it. And most people feel like they buy a book and it sits on their shelf, they get credit for that. But it becomes shelf-help and not self-help. You know what I mean?
Tana Amen: Shelf-help. I like that.
Jim Kwik: And so really the goal of self-education is to be able to apply, make something change. So even we did an episode on note taking. I would recommend even when people take notes because everyone knows there is a learning curve, but there is also a forgetting curve that within 48 hours we could lose up to 80% of what we learned. So taking notes helps you to retain it.
What I do is I do whole brain note taking where I'll take a piece of paper, put a line down the page and on the left side I'll take notes, but on the right side I'll make notes. Meaning on the left side I'll capture information, how to remember names, how to read faster. But on the right side I will create. So that will be where I put my creative energies, my impressions of what I'm capturing.
So in the three things I'm looking to write on the create, so it's capture, create. I'm looking to answer these three question to turn knowledge into power. And this is really the key. First question is I would ask yourself relentlessly is how can I use this? When you're listening to a podcast like this or reading one of your books or going to one of your events, ask yourself how can I use this.
After you have that in your head, those ideas in your head, the second H is your heart. It's like must I use this? Because a lot of people know what to do, but they don't do what they know. 'Cause common sense is not common practice. So they know they should be eating a good brain diet. They know they should meditate. They know they should journal for understanding stress management and reflection, but they don't do it.
Usually the second H is why must I use this? Who's counting on me to use this, to be my best today? And then finally after you have the Head, Heart, is your Hands. If you're procrastinating, you're not doing something, check in with the third H, the H is the hands is implementation.
The third question is once you ask how can I use this, then why must this. Third question is when will I use this because I think the most powerful productivity performance tool we have is our calendars. Most people they'll schedule their patients or their clients or their vestors or their doctors, but they won't schedule things for themselves. When are they going to go do their martial arts class?
When are they going to actually do their journaling and do their food prep? And because it's not written down it's not going to happen. And we know that. But that's how you take knowledge and put it into action. But this is being active. So the S in FAST stands for state. And this is so important because I believe that all learning is state dependent, meaning that information alone is forgettable.
Just think about all this information we've forgotten about in school, the periodic table, everything. But information combined with emotion becomes more of a longterm memory. And we can explain that through brain anatomy. But we remember things, think about it anecdotally. Is there music you could listen to that you could take you back to when you were a child?
Tana Amen: Instantly.
Jim Kwik: Or a food or fragrance.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh, I have this funny story where if I play Cat Stevens she-
Tana Amen: Oh, no. It's like nails on chalkboard.
Dr. Daniel Amen: She just, because she grew up at a time when there was a lot of stress in her house, her uncle was a drug addict.
Tana Amen: I'm convinced he does it to punish me.
Dr. Daniel Amen: She correlates something that is totally pleasurable to me to something that was not to her. So you have to know. So what's the state. And if I want the state of my marriage to be good in this house, is I need to kill Cat Stevens.
Tana Amen: So is that why Tony Robbins or people like Tony Robbins do things like play the music they play and have you jump-
Jim Kwik: They do.
Tana Amen: 'Cause it changes your state?
Jim Kwik: Because think about information times emotion becomes longterm memory. When you think about emotion back in school, what's the primary emotion most of us felt?
Tana Amen: Boredom and-
Jim Kwik: Boredom.
Tana Amen: ... hatred of being there.
Jim Kwik: Exactly. So boredom on a scale of 0-10 is 0. And information times emotion becomes longterm memory. If the emotion is 0, anything times 0 is 0. And you wonder why you've forgotten most of the stuff you learned in school. So when I say all learning is state-dependent, the S is recapturing that state. And we can change the way we feel, we know that either through our mind or our body, through our thoughts and through our posture, our breathing, our physiology.
And so I would never learn something in a dull state because none of it's going to stick. And so I would say we have that responsibility ourselves because we use that word a number of times. That we control how we feel because the difference that makes a difference in people's lives is identifying with either a thermometer or a thermostat. Like you think about a thermometer, the primary function is to react to the environment. That's its function. We react to things as human beings. We react to the economy, politics, how people treat us. But in actuality the people that are happiest and most successful and most fulfilled certainly are the people who identify more with the thermostat, because the thermostat doesn't react.
Tana Amen: You set it.
Jim Kwik: It sets the environment. It sets a vision, a goal, and then the environment raises. And that means that we have agency. We have agency over a cause of how we feel. And the most important thing I think we should be at cause about is how we feel.
I believe that every single morning, yes you have your to do list, but what if you had a to feel list? What if you had three things on your ... this is how I'm going to feel today, and you go from there. 'cause I believe another lie that's out there is we have to get into the habit of taking nouns and turning them into verbs. Most people think they, they say you can hear it in their language. I don't have creativity today. I don't have focus. I don't have motivation. I don't have energy. Those aren't things as much as you have as much as they are things you do.
Tana Amen: Doing.
Jim Kwik: Right, you don't have energy, you do energy. You don't have focus; there's a process for focusing. You don't have creativity; there's a process for it. And when you turn it into a verb, it gives you agency and power to be able to do something about it as opposed to just being at the effect. So I would say all learning is state-dependent.
Dr. Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:07:00].
Jim Kwik: And then finally, all learning, yeah a To Feel List. And then you work backwards from that. And just like I also feel like we should have a To Be List. You wake up and you have a To Be List, because a lot of people when there's chaos, or there's challenge as there's adversity, they're like, "Oh, what do I need to do?" They're in fight or flight. And fight are flight, physiologically, it's not really good to think and solve problems. But I would say pause. It's not what you need to do, it's like me, that a good question what do I need to do, but maybe an even better question is who do I need to be at this moment. Because out of that being comes, the actions will come naturally.
Tana Amen: I legitimately focus on ... It's just a weird thing I started doing when I felt completely powerless was I started literally like, I am a warrior. And I would identify with-
Jim Kwik: And that's why I love your title.
Tana Amen: I'm going to kick you know what right now.
Jim Kwik: Right.
Tana Amen: So it's something I started doing when I was young after being attacked. It's like, nope! I'm going to go out today, and I'm going to kick some you know what.
Jim Kwik: Exactly.
Tana Amen: That's how I survived. I didn't know that was at the time.
Jim Kwik: And notice we control our emotional states. Even when we breathe, when we put a smile on our face, when we think positive thoughts, it affects our perception and our physiology. And then finally the T in FAST. F is forget about what you know about something. A is being active to learn something faster.
The S is control your state because never learn something in a bored state because you're just not going to retain any of it. And then getting a sense of curiosity, sense of wonder, and again, there's a great [inaudible 00:08:24] quote that says, "Sell your cleverness for bewilderment." I mean when is the last time we felt a sense of bewilderment at something?
Tana Amen: I like that.
Jim Kwik: And then finally, and it's one of the reason why children learn so quickly. They don't know they don't know.
Tana Amen: So curious.
Jim Kwik: They're very active in the process of learning. Their state is a sense of wonder and curiosity. And then finally the T in FAST, if you want to learn anything faster is learn to teach it. Meaning that a lot of people you hear it's this negative. I think those who can't do teach, like you can't do business teach business. I never thought it was a negative. I always thought, wow, if I can't learn something, learn it to teach it.
If I had to give a Ted Talk next week on this subject, how would I pay attention differently? How would I take notes differently? How would I ask questions differently? And then it becomes integrated, meaning that's the goal. This is information in your head, but information alone nobody acts on it. You need the inspiration, the motivation in your heart.
And when you have that, then you do the third eye, which is implementation. You actually do it. It goes from your head, heart, to your hands. But then when you have all three Is, you have the information, or instruction. You have the inspiration to use it. You have the implementation 'cause you're doing it. Then you have the fourth I, which is integration. I think that's the ultimate goal is it just becomes who you are. It's not something you learn on a podcast or on a video or on a seminar. It's just who you are, because that's the life we live or the lessons we teach.
Tana Amen: Didn't you learn that in school? I learned that in school. In nursing school it was see one, do one, teach one.
Jim Kwik: Exactly.
Tana Amen: Everything had to be see one, do one, teach one. Did you have that?
Dr. Daniel Amen: One of the big secrets after college was I helped other people study.
Tana Amen: Me too, I tutored. [crosstalk 00:09:54].
Dr. Daniel Amen: In Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades, there's a chapter called two heads are better than one.
Tana Amen: And if you don't know something then you're forced to figure it out.
Jim Kwik: Exactly. 'Cause it's not just your neurological networks, it's also your social networks. And so the co-learning and learning from other people that's a powerful tool.
Dr. Daniel Amen: How can people learn more-
Tana Amen: This is really good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: About you and your work. Of course, you have a number of courses that you offer.
Jim Kwik: We have an online academy 30-day speed reading program, a memory enhancement program, study skills program. And so Where most people connect with us is on our podcast, also. So we have a podcast like yours that's Brain Bites. It's 10-15 minutes each episode on how do you remember names? How do you learn another language? How do you take notes? How do you change your habits? And how do you remember what you read? Just simple questions like that.
And then you people have been on our show and it's very popular. And then the best thing is I challenge everybody to take a screenshot of this episode or this video and post it online. Tag us, the three of us on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. And I always re-share some of my favorite.
But also, going back to teaching, how when you teach something you got to learn it twice. Share your big a-has in that post. What's the one nugget you got out of this because then it'll become more of who you are.
Tana Amen: I love the limitation one. If own them. That was so good.
Stay tuned because in the next episode Jim will give us some practical advice on how to avoid procrastination.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warriors Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at 855-978-1363.