Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life
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About Jim Kwik
Jim Kwik is a world-renowned expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance and accelerated learning. After a childhood brain injury, Kwik created strategies to dramatically improve his mental performance to overcome the impacts of his brain injury. Now he teaches others how to improve their mental performance. His clients range from students to world-leading CEOs and celebrities. He also provides training for top organizations like Google, Virgin, SpaceX and Harvard University.
Limitless covers the story of how Jim Kwik taught himself to learn again after he hit his head and suffered a brain injury. Following in his classmates’ footsteps, 5-year-old Kwik had stood on a chair to get a better view of fire engines that were parked outside his school when someone began pulling on his chair. This caused him to fall and land head-first on a radiator. After this injury, he found it hard to memorize basic facts. It took him three years longer to learn to read than his peers. But today, Kwik can recall the names of fifty or more people in an audience that he’s just met. He can also recite a string of one hundred random numbers, forward and back, while onstage. Kwik has gone from never reading a book before the age of 16 to reading a book every week for the last thirty years. At the heart of Kwik’s mental transformation is a simple truth: We all can mold our brains and continuously improve our mental abilities. If you’re struggling to learn, it’s not due to an innate brain limitation. Your struggles with learning are due to either a limited mindset, limited motivation, or a lousy learning method.
StoryShot #1: The Fundamentals
Jim Kwik starts Limitless by providing fundamental skills. He also encourages readers to use these techniques while reading his book. The method is called the FASTER method.
- F- Forget – The key to focusing on a task is to remove or forget the potential distractions surrounding you.
- A- Act – Traditional education has taught most people that it is okay for learning to be passive. That said, your brain does not learn as much by consumption as it does by creation.
- S- State – Your learning will always be dependent on the state you are in at that time. This includes both your psychological state (including your thoughts) and your physiological state (including the condition of your body).
- T- Teach – Learn with the intention of teaching this information to someone else. If you act as if you will have to give a presentation, you will learn with the intention of mastering it.
- E- Enter – Many people enter important tasks in their schedule but forget to enter opportunities for personal growth and development.
- R- Review – The “forgetting curve” refers to our tendency to forget information in a short amount of time if we don’t actively try to remember it. To limit the impact of the forgetting curve, you should actively recall what you’ve learned by using spaced repetition. Spaced repetition requires you to practice new and difficult information more frequently than older and less difficult information. You should increase the time interval between each time you review information.
StoryShot #2: The 3 Ms
The 3Ms also form the foundation of limitless learning. The 3Ms are:
The unlimiting process supports these points. This process is about removing the limitations you have in each of these three areas because they are critical to your potential capabilities. Your Mindset and Motivation intersect to create your inspiration to learn. This inspiration influences your thoughts, leading to a limitless Mindset of ideation. To then move past the ideation stage, your Motivation and Methods must combine to create implementation. You will have a limitless state if your inspiration, ideation and implementation are all healthy and intersecting.
Kwik shows us the three self-imposed limits that prevent us from excelling.
- Your Mindset (the What) – Your mindset consists of your beliefs, assumptions and attitudes. None of these are preinstalled at birth, which means you pick them up from your environment and those around you. Kwik explains that it is possible to adopt a limitless mindset. This approach allows you to verify that any limitations are self-imposed and that your true potential is within your control. If you can apply this point, your potential grows substantially.
- Your Motivation (the Why) – Kwik outlines that your personal motivation is not fixed. Instead, you can generate your motivation every day. That’s because motivation is the result of a repeatable process you can control. Kwik explains that your motivation is a combination of your purpose, energy, and three small and simple steps.
- Your Methods (the How) – As well as approaching every day with a productive mindset, you also need to understand how to learn. So, you need methods. These methods should teach you how to focus, study, memorize critical facts, undertake speed-reading and think clearly. If you can become an expert in these five areas, you will genuinely become limitless.
StoryShot #3: The 4,3,2,1 Method
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” If you insist you can’t read quickly, you’re all but guaranteed to never improve your reading speed. The key to improving any mental ability is to suspend any limiting beliefs and temporarily act as though your mental abilities are limitless. By merely entertaining the idea that your reading speed potential is limitless, you can noticeably increase your reading speed.
To prove this, consider following the ten-minute exercise called the 4, 3, 2, 1 method. Set a timer for four minutes and open an easy-to-read book. Start reading at a comfortable pace while using your finger to underline the words as you read them. When the four-minute timer expires, mark the point at which you stopped. Now go back to where you started and set a timer for three minutes. Try to get to that same point you reached after four minutes. Don’t worry if your comprehension isn’t perfect. Instead, just make sure you underline and see every word. When the three-minute timer expires, do the same for two minutes, and then one minute. After this 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise, resume reading the rest of the book at a comfortable speed for four minutes. If you compare the number of lines you read now, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much faster you can read. By merely pretending you can read faster, you’ve upgraded your reading speed.
StoryShot #4: Effective Questions and Acronyms
Before engaging with any learning or task, Jim Kwik encourages readers to ask themselves the following questions:
What do I believe I am capable of?
What have I accomplished in the past?
What is possible for me?
Kwik sums up a negative mindset with the acronym LIE, or Limited Idea Entertained. In essence, most people entertain ideas of themselves that are less than their true potential. Kwik believes these ideas are almost always BS (Belief Systems) that can be challenged.
StoryShot #5: Effective Reading
Consider a book you were forced to read in English class. Then imagine a book recommended by your mentor. This is someone you greatly admire who tells you that this book contains the secret that transformed their life. Which are you more likely to read effectively? After hearing that statement, it’s hard to not wonder what the secret is. If you pick up a book in a peak state of curiosity, wonder and excitement, you are bound to learn quicker and retain more.
Jim Kwik says all learning is state-dependent. A valid reason why you may not have learned much in school is that you found school boring. So, before you start reading anything, put yourself in a peak state of curiosity. You can do this by asking the following three questions: What great insight will I get from this book? How will this insight forever change my life? And, when will I get to use this insight? Assume that every book you read contains a profound insight. For example, imagine that someone else has just paid ten million dollars for the information you are about to read. With that mental framing, you will become extremely curious and motivated to absorb the information. After you’ve generated ample motivation, it’s time to upgrade your reading methods.
You can apply this method for reading to all learning. We must produce sustainable motivation.
StoryShot #6: Effective Questions and Equations
As a way of considering your motivation levels, Kwik encourages you to ask yourself the following questions:
- How connected do I feel to my purpose?
- How are my day-to-day energy levels?
- What am I allowing to drain my energy that I no longer should?
Based on these points, Kwik devised a simple equation for what motivation consists of:
Motivation = Purpose x Energy x Small Simple Steps
StoryShot #7: Improve Your Focus By Changing Your Environment
Kwik points out that, when working, we are often using technology. We can work anywhere at any time. So, we become purely focused on our devices rather than the surrounding environment.
The issue is that our habitual mind is still recognizing the surrounding environment, even if our conscious mind is not. Our mind is using these cues to influence our thoughts and work-related behaviors. So, based on the recommendations of Julia Roy (a famous personal trainer for productivity), there are three ways to improve your focus through changing your environment:
- Designate work-only zones.
- Set the appropriate soundtrack. Set the same playlist whenever you do a specific task and choose playlists that fit the task.
- Give your devices specific tasks. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between the real world and the digital world. We should use a personal phone and work phone, a personal laptop and work laptop, personal iPad and work iPad.
StoryShot #8: Avoid Regression to Improve Your Reading
Regression is the tendency for your eyes to go back and reread certain words in a sentence. Jim Kwik says that almost everyone does it to some degree, and most of the time, we do it subconsciously.
To solve the problem of regression, you need to use a pacer. Attention follows movement. If you use your finger to guide your reading, you prevent your attention from jumping around the text. Many people have low reading comprehension because reading is too slow and boring for them. But you can get your brain’s attention by moving your pacer more quickly. When you move your finger at a pace that’s on the edge of your perceived maximum reading speed, you require your full attention. More attention equals more retention. So, use a finger as a pacer when reading a physical book. You can also use your finger as a pacer when reading on your phone by sliding it down the side of the phone. Finally, use your mouse as a pacer when reading content on your computer.
StoryShot #9: Avoid Subvocalization to Improve Your Reading
Bad reading habit number two: subvocalization. Subvocalization is the habit of saying the words to yourself in your head as you read. When you feel the need to sound out every word you read, your reading speed is limited by how fast you can talk. You can get your inner narrator to talk fast and sound out 200–250 words per minute. This rate happens to be the average reading speed. However, there is no need to hear the words in your head as you read them. You’ve already seen 99% of the words before, and you have mental images for most of them. If you can bring to mind the image a word represents, rather than sounding out that word, you’ll become a much more efficient reader.
To break your subvocalization habit, quietly count out loud as you read. It’s hard for your mind to sound out words and speak numbers simultaneously. So when you start reading, count 1, 2, 3, 4. This process will free your mind of the inner narrator. It will also train your mind to see the words on the page like images. Turn what you’re reading into a motion picture experience.
StoryShot #10: Avoid Word-by-Word Reading
The third bad reading habit is word-by-word reading. When you first learn how to read, you train your eyes to look at one word at a time. Now that you’re familiar with most words, you can observe chunks of words at a single glance. Instead of reading “the boy walked home,” you can see all four words simultaneously.
Practice expanding your vision to see groups of words rather than just one at a time. This technique works in conjunction with the last one because it’s easier for your mind’s eye to generate imagery for groups of words.
StoryShot #11: Spend 20 Minutes Per Day Training Your Reading Muscles
Remove the perceived limitations on your reading speed by setting aside twenty minutes daily for the next two weeks to build your speed-reading muscle. Each day, forget what you believe your limitations are and pretend for twenty minutes that your potential reading speed is limitless.
First, grab a book you’ve wanted to read. Take one minute to ask yourself the critical questions: What great insight will I get from this book, and how will this insight change my life? The goal is to put yourself in a peak state of curiosity so that you’re motivated to learn what you read. Then use the following ten minutes to warm up your speed-reading muscles using the 4, 3, 2, 1 method. Afterwards, focus on each of the following methods for three minutes each:
- First, use a pacer to prevent regression. As you read, move the pacer at a speed that requires your full attention.
- Next, count out loud as you read to stop yourself from subvocalizing the text.
- Finally, relax your eyes and expand your peripheral vision to try to take in more than one word at a time.
When you first start using these three methods (pacing, counting and expanding), you’ll feel a little awkward. But if you continue using them, you’ll start to see your speed and reading comprehension improve dramatically.
StoryShot #12: The Ten Steps to Improving Your Memory
Kwik provides ten steps for improving your memory.
- Eat good brain food: What you eat matters, especially to your brain matter. Blueberries are great brain food.
- Try to avoid negative thoughts and complaining.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get your brain nutrients: Take a blood test and verify your deficiencies. Then take the appropriate supplements.
- Keep a positive peer group: Who you spend time with is who you become. This point is supported by research into mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are activated as we observe others. When we see someone else doing something, our mirror neurons activate as if we were doing the same thing.
- Maintain a clean environment, meaning clean air, water and space around you.
- Get good sleep: Dreaming is essential for fantastic ideas. Sleep is also vital for protecting you against age-related brain damage, and it is crucial for day-to-day functioning.
- Protect your brain: Avoid putting your phone under your pillow and protect yourself from head injuries by wearing a helmet when cycling.
- Learn new things: Neuroplasticity (connections in your brain) can be instigated through learning new things.
- Reduce your stress through yoga, meditation, or massages.
You must also try to frequently challenge your methods by asking yourself the following questions:
- Have I thought about the methods I am using?
- Have I learned this method from someone successful at what I am trying to achieve?
- If I changed my method, would my results look different?
StoryShot #13: The 4Ds
As well as optimizing the 3 Ms, Kwik talks about the 4 Ds that can make living a limitless life difficult in the modern world. These are:
- Digital Deluge – We consume significantly more data now in one day than a person centuries ago would have in their entire lifetime. This can leave our brain overwhelmed.
- Digital Distraction – Instead of relaxing into our time, we often pull our phones out. This ultimately trains our distraction muscles.
- Digital Dementia – Overreliance on technology could lead to us no longer honing our cognitive abilities. We should look at our brains more like a muscle rather than a hard drive.
- Digital Deduction – The automation of critical thinking and problem-solving makes us much worse at these skills, but we will always need these skills in life.
Final Review and Rating
Throughout Limitless, Jim Kwik offers approaches that he believes can help anybody improve their efficiency. You have limitless potential if you can start implementing limitless motivation, limitless methods and a limitless mindset. Kwik emphasizes that you must seek to overcome the 4 Ds that are common in the modern world. By doing so, your opportunities become limitless.
We rate this book 4.5/5.
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