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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Meaning Before Details


One of the best books I’ve ever read on engagement is Brain Rules, by John Medina. Medina, a college professor, shares simplified neuroscience to keep your brain engaged in order to maximize learning and retention.

This is a worthwhile book for teachers, leaders, and SALESPEOPLE!

One big takeaway from Medina is that the brain processes meaning before details.

“Normally, if we don’t know the gist—the meaning—of information, we are unlikely to pay attention to its details. The brain selects meaning-laden information for further processing and leaves the rest alone.”

Medina, John. Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (pp. 114-115). Pear Press. Kindle Edition.

There are a couple of ways in which you can help someone else engage around content with this key idea in mind.

The first is — very simply — to start with the ‘why’. WHY are you undertaking this project? WHY did you found the organization? WHY does this matter? The WHY is the meaning… everything else is the detail. The Altitude Framework starts with WHY; it is organized to present meaning before detail.

And the second reminder is to start with the other person’s WHY. Focus on what is most meaningful to the other person. WHY is this important to them? WHY are they doing what they’re doing?