“Repetition, plus restatement, gets people to remember,” David Brooks, a communication expert and the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking, said at a Toastmasters District training I attended many years ago. Mr. Brooks shared his expertise on how to give better presentations using the elements of eloquence in public speaking.
It is a memorable phrase and illustrates excellent writing skills using alliteration to help the audience listen with clarity. I have shared this quote often to demonstrate how repeating something over and over helps people to connect with an idea. Like giving a dozen roses says I love you twelve times, our minds are wired in a way to see patterns which connect us to the idea of repetition, restatement, and remembering.
Repetition. I often find this helps me in other aspects of my life. When I challenge myself to learn a new skill or improve an existing one, I repeat the skill over and over. Persistence is repeating something until you get as close to mastery as possible. Notice, I did not say perfection. That’s an idea which confuses people into thinking they must be perfect, knowing that perfection is likely unattainable. Continuous improvement is a better way to look at outcomes. Writing is a skill I continually work on and practice, often in frustration especially when the words are there yet I have trouble placing them in an order to make sense. Yet, I persist.
Restatement. If you have children, or know children, or act like a child, you will understand this concept. Have you ever told a child not to do something? Don’t run with a knife. Don’t act out. Don’t cross the street without looking both ways. You have most likely said it so many times you seek ways to restate it in a more impactful way. Screaming and yelling to get attention will work, yet it sends a negative message. Granted, it is sometimes necessary. However, restating in a positive manner works more effectively and is better for all parties involved. Here are those phrases restated. Walk slowly to the table with the knife by your side. When you feel angry count to five before you respond. When you cross the street look to your right and left to see if any cars are coming; only then move forward.
Remember. Memories are those little mind excursions which help one relive experiences and keep in the forefront those stories that shape who we have become. Such as family reunions or a gathering of old school friends, all the stories are dusted off and repeated to relive those “good ole’ days.” Remembering is also like the many cycles that are part of our lives. There are the seasonal cycles. Winter is followed by Spring, which is followed by Summer, which is followed by Fall. I am certain of that. There is the business cycle of booms and busts. There are geologic cycles in forming and breaking down the Earth. There are astronomical cycles with equinoxes. There are hundreds of different cycles which have a beginning, middle, and end. In the Torah, the five books of the Hebrew Bible, after the final portion of Deuteronomy is read, the beginning of the Torah is started once more with the reading of Genesis. This continual reading is a tradition that reminds Jews you can never finish studying and there is always something new to learn. There is life itself.
As this year closes and we enter another, we reflect. We set new goals for the year, perhaps the next few years, and we commit to going forward. We try dieting, going to the gym, writing every day. Some succeed, many don’t. Why is this? Perhaps it’s a lack of persistence, determination, support, or a positive mindset. There are many excuses yet acting is the only way change will happen. You will have missteps and lapses in your new commitment. Just start over until your new dream, your new skill, your new vision, becomes a routine habit. Give yourself 30 consecutive days. Celebrate that milestone. Then, commit to another 30 days. Rinse and repeat. Failure will happen and it is OK. It’s when you don’t get back to your goal, your plan, or your commitment, you miss the opportunities in front of you. We live in the greatest of times, in the greatest country, and today is your greatest day to act and prove it so. Reiteration is the cycle that leads to continuous improvement. Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year of success?