I recently experienced a “wake-up call.” I was surfing the Web and came across a crossword puzzle written for microbiologists. I thought to myself, “Gee, I took a microbiology course in college. It might be fun to see how much of it I could fill in.” So, I started to read the questions. Much to my surprise, many of the words, terms, and phrases were familiar, but the answers seemed to be just beyond my reach. Then, I began to think of all the concepts, theories, and formulas that I learned in the process of completing my Ph.D. program. Many of those details had faded from my memory as well.
I then decided to peruse through a few of my old psychology textbooks and learned something about memory loss. One theory suggested that not only are there different types of memory (short-term and long-term), but that there are different reasons why we forget what we learned. Decay, displacement, and interference with stored information all lead us to forget the knowledge that we so painstakingly learned during the years of our formal education. If you don’t think that is possible, just try helping a high school student with his or her math or science homework!
Although it may alarm you to think that you may eventually forget much of what you have learned, here is something that may be even more disconcerting. If you have forgotten much of the information that you learned in school, what have you been filling all of the “empty space” in your brain with? Many professionals are required to take continuing education classes in order to maintain a license. However, those classes provide only a few hours of additional education each year. Even if continuing education is required to practice your craft, you may not routinely challenge your brain sufficiently to stay sharp. When was the last time that you decided to learn anything new? Do you spend your free time learning new skills or expanding your knowledge about a subject that interests you? I’m afraid that many of us spend a great deal of time in front of the television or skimming through magazines that do little to improve our minds. When was the last time that you engaged in a conversation that required you to really think about what you and the other person were saying? In an age when we are constantly reminded that we should maintain or improve our bodies, there seems to be minimal interest in improving our minds! While it is readily apparent that a lack of exercise will result in a loss of physical skills as you age, consider how your cognitive skills are impacted if you do not constantly strive to improve your mind. I am not suggesting that everyone needs to study physics in his or her spare time. What I am suggesting is that you must engage in an informal education process throughout your life. Not only should you attempt to learn new information, but also you should also strive to “grow” your values and be a valuable member of your family and community.
If you have neglected the issue of personal growth in your life, I would like to challenge you to begin a set of new and life-changing habits. After a great deal of thought about the subject of personal growth, I have decided to somewhat change the focus of UnCommon Courtesy & Coaching. It seems to me that the subscribers to the Pinnacle Perspective cannot “live life to the fullest” (the theme of our website) unless they are continually challenged to grow. What can I contribute to that process? For starters, the Pinnacle Perspective will now be sent out on a weekly basis. The newsletter will periodically continue to include articles of this length. However, I would also like to offer you something a bit different. Issues of the newsletter that do not contain my articles will include what I like to think of as “personal growth exercises.” Personal growth exercises will briefly discuss an area that many of us can improve in (i.e., communication skills, our interaction with others, or ways to improve our behavior), and then challenge the reader to grow in that area. The Pinnacle Perspective will continue to include motivational quotations and inspirational stories. I believe that reading inspirational stories can encourage you to positively change your life and the lives of those around you. If you receive inspirational stories from others, please include me in your re-distribution lists! There are so many great stories out there, and I aspire to make UnCommon Courtesy & Coaching a cornerstone for inspirational material on the Internet! I’ll be busy this week making up a list of personal growth exercises to pass along in the coming months, and I look forward to input from all of The Pinnacle Perspective’s fantastic subscribers!
Please send any articles, poems, or quotes that you have about changing your life, living life to the fullest, and personal growth to me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
 Atkinson and Schiffrin (1971) “The Control of Short-Term Memory. Scientific American, 224,82-90.
: Ar�jmo����t-family:Arial’>4. How often has my rush to get through my day caused me to treat people abruptly?
- Have I rationalized my rude behavior toward others as being what is socially acceptable in our society?
- Do I dismiss my critical comments toward and about others as my way of “telling them the truth”?
- How do I react when other people treat me poorly?
- Do I have empathy for my acquaintances, friends, colleagues, and family members?
- Do I treat people around me in the warm, kind, compassionate, and courteous manner that I would like to be treated?
10. What can I do to have a positive direct and indirect impact on others?
Take time today to choose to have a positive impact on someone’s life! We’ll talk more about empathy building next week.
P.S. I will eventually address the issue of implementing a new standard of conduct, but there are a few other issues that I would like you to first consider in the upcoming weeks.