Abraham Lincoln was considered one of the most electric speakers of his day and many of his speeches have gone down in history as among the best of any president. Lincoln, wrote almost all of his own speeches even as president, an incredible accomplishment considering he was embroiled in a Civil War that occupied most of his waking hours. One of the reasons Lincoln was such a prolific speaker has to do with a habit he formed long before he became president. Lincoln, in his early years, formed the habit of writing down anything he wanted to commit to memory, three times. I like to call it the Rule of 3.
The study of the brain (neuroscience) has advanced more in the last twenty years than is all previous years. One of the many recent discoveries in memory formation shows that writing something down instantly elevates it above all other thoughts inside the brain. Writing down anything you want to remember three times, as Lincoln did, activates the memory loop between the cortex and the hippocampus. Once this loop is activated, the process of memory formation begins to take hold.
This memory loop process occurs during REM sleep. During REM sleep, the cortex and hippocampus engage in offline memory processing. Sleep consolidates what we’ve learned the previous day. This memory loop replays, thousands of times while we sleep, what we’ve learned the previous day. Writing something down three times activates this loop.
Abraham Lincoln intuitively stumbled upon this neurological phenomenon many years before memory looping was even on the neurological radar. The Rule of 3 was central to Lincoln’s success in life. If you struggle at all with remembering important facts, facts that may be critical to your success at work, make the Rule of 3 a habit today. It will immediately improve your memory and your job performance.