- The Daily Coach
- The 4 Components of Incredible Memory
The 4 Components of Incredible Memory
Los Angeles Rams Coach Sean McVay has a Rain Main-like memory. How does he do it? It essentially comes down to four components.
Sean McVay has a "Rain Man"-like memory.
Without any preparation, the Los Angeles Rams coach can quickly rattle off the most precise details of past plays, sequences and outcomes.
Most of us can only remember the impactful events of our lives, not actual details. And even at that, research suggests we are frequently wrong.
This is called a “Flashlight Memory,” a concept coined by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus after her extensive work on eyewitness testimony. It is used to describe the phenomenon that people often recall vivid details about an incident, but may not remember other information. "Flashlight" refers to the feeling that you're only paying attention to one small element, not everything around it.
In the journal Neuron, neurobiologists Blake Richards and Paul Frankland challenge the predominant view of memory, which holds that forgetting is a process of loss, the gradual washing away of critical information despite our best efforts to retain it.
According to Richards and Frankland, the goal of memory is not just to store information accurately but to “optimize decision-making” in chaotic, fast-changing environments.
“From this perspective, forgetting is not necessarily a failure of memory,” Richards and Frankland write in the study. “Rather, it may represent an investment in a more optimal mnemonic strategy.”
So how do we improve our memories, enhance our decision making and become more like McVay?
When you examine Richards and Frankland’s critical points to improving memory for students, you can understand why McVay is so successful. His daily work allows him to follow the critical steps set forth by Richards and Frankland:
Peer-to-peer explanations: When students explain what they’ve learned to peers, fading memories are reactivated, strengthened and consolidated. McVay has to explain the game in detail to his team each week and they also must communicate to one another.
The spacing effect: Instead of covering a topic and then moving on, revisit key ideas throughout the school year. McVay, will constantly show the players, past games, events, good or bad and then is always revisiting games.
Frequent practice tests: Akin to regularly reviewing material, giving frequent practice tests can boost long-term retention. Each week, when going over the game plan, McVay is essentially giving a test to his players, forcing them to retain the new information.
Combine text with images: It’s often easier to remember information that’s been presented in different ways, especially if visual aids can help organize information. McVay uses video each day to allow his players and himself to remember the critical data.
As we start the new school year or business quarter, let’s use these techniques to help those we lead and ourselves better retain information and improve our memories.
It worked for the Super Bowl champion coach. And it can work for us.