Discovering the Virtues of Documentation

Neglecting Documentation

During my early days at university I still held tight to the notion that it is best to focus and concentrate on what is being said during a lecture and not to bother writing it down. I thought that writing down what I was listening to would decrease my concentration and understanding of what was being said. My avoidance of documentation was not only for words spoken by others but even my own thoughts. I believed that since the thoughts have been produced by my own brain then my mind will be able to reproduce them again and I would never forget them. It was not until I started practicing shorthand during the second semester of my third year at university that I started realizing the true benefits of documentation.

Old Beliefs Shattered

I realized that writing each and every word the professor uttered during the lecture, in shorthand, actually helped me focus more on what he or she was saying and helped me understand the lecture more deeply. That was contrary to my previous belief where I thought that writing down what I was listening to would decrease my concentration and comprehension level of what was being said. Another limiting belief I had, which was also shattered, was the one about memory. As I reviewed the transcript of whole lectures before my exams I discovered that I would have forgotten so much of what had been mentioned in those lectures had I not written everything down in shorthand. Again this contrasted sharply with the belief I had been holding on to which made me think I would be able to recall most of what has been said during a lecture if I concentrated deeply enough on listening to what the professor was saying during the lecture.

Extreme Documentation

Shorthand helped me abolish my beliefs related to documentation of what others were saying. I also discovered the virtues of documenting my own thoughts. I was surprised to find that some of the ideas that were coming to my mind, and I thought them to be novel, actually had come to me years earlier. Had I not documented them by then I would have never realized that the same ideas keep reoccurring to me with me getting the impression each time that I have just managed to stumble upon novel ideas! This strong revelation made me appreciate the virtues of documenting my ideas. I even went to an extreme in such direction as I tried out the GTD (Getting Things Done) system in which I wrote down whatever I needed to do. I even took this a step further and tried out the PoIC (Pile of Index Cards) system to record all my thoughts! It was fun and useful to try out such interesting systems.

Keeping a Notebook

As I started delivering training, I kept a notebook in which I wrote down my observation including both positive and negative things I have observed after delivering each training course. This was the single most important activity in my training career that helped build my experience as a trainer. Each time before delivering a new training course I looked into my notebook revising the points I had written earlier in order to up my performance. I was being surprised by the points I found and how I would have forgotten them had I not written them down. Not having written them down would have made me rediscover many of those learnt lessons each time I delivered a new training program.


Changing my old negative beliefs about documentation has helped transform my life in a positive way. The quotation I had once read which spoke about the importance of documentation sums it all up. It says: “A short pencil is better than a long memory.

Have you ever tried looking through old notebooks of your writings and discovered interesting things in them or was surprised by your own earlier writing? Tell us about such experience of yours.

Changing Behavior through Switching Beliefs

One Coin, Two Sides

A change in someone’s beliefs can lead to a change in his behavior. In order to influence and change the behavior of participants you should attempt to influence and change their beliefs. Beliefs and behavior are two sides of the same coin. If behavior of a person does not mirror a belief he claims to be holding then he is not truly holding such belief he is claiming to be holding.

The 3 Elements

Behavior or attitude is one of the 3 main elements a trainer attempts to make positive change in besides skills and knowledge of trainees. In fact, changing behavior is the most difficult of the three and has the strongest and most lasting effect. But how can the trainer influence trainees so as to change their behavior? Here I will show you a powerful method for changing participant beliefs and thus in effect changing their behavior.


Some may think that providing logical explanations and guiding trainees to logical deductions and conclusions can be the right way to influence and change their beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such method may indeed silence participants and prevent them from arguing yet it will not shake off the original belief they are holding to.


A much more effective method and a really powerful one is to provide real stories of actual cases that attest to the validity of the belief you want trainees to be holding.

The strongest type of story would be one that you have gone through yourself and in which you have gone through the journey of holding the wrong belief followed by going through a personal experience that made you lay down such wrong belief and hold a new one. This is the most powerful type of story that creates instant belief switching in the minds and hearts of participants.

If you do not have a personal story of such a belief change you may narrate the story of someone else who had such a belief change after going through some personal experience. If still such a change-of-belief story is not available then you can narrate a true story the events of which attest to the validity of the new belief you want participants to be holding.

Quitting Smoking

Let’s take an example to make this method clearer. Let us say there is a group of participants who are carrying out the harmful behavior of smoking. Let us assume that their subconscious minds are holding twisted beliefs that smoking might not be very harmful due to seeing many people around them who smoke yet are not greatly suffering health wise. If the trainer attempts to give hard facts about how smoking has been scientifically proven to harm the body, such numbers and logical explanations may still not effect change in the behavior of participants.

If rather than that a trainer narrates his own true story in which he had been a smoker not really believing so much in the harmful effect of smoking then going through a difficult experience of sharply deteriorated health resulting in a change in his beliefs about smoking consequently resulting in a change in his behavior then such a story can be a real influencer and would probably have a strong and powerful effect on participants making many of them change their beliefs about smoking and probably changing their behavior as well in the form of attempting to cut down on smoking or quit smoking altogether.


So, next time you are trying to convince someone with something do not try and argue using hard facts but use a true story to get your point through. This could lead to a change in his beliefs leading to a change in his behavior.

How else can you influence the behavior of a smoker to help him quit smoking?