Scientists confirm: Being forgetful can help you learn faster and make better decisions

I've taught over 2,000 people to learn more effectively through the Mental Model Club. One of the most common questions I get from members is this...

"How can I remember everything I read?"

This, my friends, is the wrong question.

Hidden within it is a false assumption—the idea that the hallmark of a well-functioning brain is to remember everything.

The Research Findings

Research shows that the opposite is true. A review study of the top academic studies on memory published in Neuron came to the following conclusion:

In other words, forgetting removes outdated and distracting information so we can focus on what really matters.

These findings also jive with my studies of some of the most successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientists in history. When reading their biographies, you see that people like Einstein, Buffett, and Edison might seem forgetful from the outside forgetting day-to-day chores (if they're not reminded by other people), but that they have almost photographic memory for the things that matter most in their work.

The Big Take-Away

So what should the take-away be if you want to learn faster and smarter. I think it comes down to this:

When it comes to learning, don't try to remember everything. Instead, remember the few things that really matter.

The Funny Take-Away

Next time you forget the keys, it may not mean you're getting old. It might just mean you're focused on more important things and that you're thinking like a highly intelligent person :)

What do you think about this study?

I'd be very curious in your thoughts. Share them in the comments below. I read each comment.

Also, would you be interested in me spending a few dozen hours diving into the research on memory and learning and then writing a long-form article? If you type 'yes' in the comments, I'll let you know when and if it comes out.