The Power of a Mind to Map: Tony Buzan at TEDxSquareMile (Full Transcript)

How many of you have suffered and do suffer from information overload? Everybody. This is one of the biggest causes of physical and mental disease in the history of the planet. So we move from that age, we’re not in it. And if we think we are, then we think in the wrong way. Wrong formula!

So the new age actually has already begun, called “The Knowledge Age.” How many of you have heard about knowledge management? And who are the children going to be taught to be? Knowledge workers. And think how? Knowledgeably. Which is wonderful. It all sounds good, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t! It doesn’t because the directors of management – the knowledge management – actually got together after a couple of years and said that it doesn’t really work.

Why doesn’t it work? They discovered that there is something far more important to manage than to manage knowledge. What do you think it is that is more important to manage than knowledge? Yes, many ideas. People say, ” Time,” or “Money,” ” Other people.” There’s one thing that is most important. You have to manage the manager of knowledge. And what is the manager of knowledge? The brain. It’s interesting that you all point to this, right? The management of the manager of knowledge is the brain. And what tools does our human brain, what tools does it use? It uses its multiple intelligences.

Multiple! Obviously: verbal, numerical, logical, but also physical, sensual, creative, ethical, spiritual intelligences. That’s the new age in which we will be. How will the planet begin to think during that time? That should be an easy and immediate response. In the intelligence age, how will everybody begin to think? Intelligently. Intelligently! At last, the world will begin to think intelligently.

And intelligently about what? About agriculture, about industry, about information, about technology, about knowledge, and most importantly, think intelligently about intelligence. So, what will the child become? What will the child be like? It will become like a flower. It will become like an intelligence bloom. The child will become an intelligence worker. And think the future in which all the children are intelligence workers.

A wonderful future to look forward to. So let’s look at how intelligence itself actually works. I’m going to ask you to imagine that you are a piece of equipment. You’re a supercomputer. I’m going to give you a piece of data, and I want you to check what does your brain do.

How long does it take to access it? What does the brain give it? And are there any colors or associations related to it? Are you ready? Yes. The piece of data. I want you to access is: “mango” (Humming). OK. First of all, how long did it take you to access it? Yes, and all of you are doing: (Finger snap). What does that mean? That means instantaneously, in a microsecond Phenomenal! No supercomputer can do that from your infinite database.

So if you worked out how we do that, you’ll get a Nobel Prize. And you’ll get it. (Finger snap) just like that. So did you get a nice little m-a-n-g-o print out? And all your heads are going “No.” What did you get? A picture. A picture.

How many of you got a picture or an image with colors and associations? Everybody. And I’ve done field surveys around the world, it’s everybody. So welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the human race! Because this is how our brains actually work: image. It could be anything, couldn’t it? It could be your mom. It could be a mango.

It could be an insect, anything. The way the brain works with radiant associations, colors, multiple sensories linking out. So, the two key words for which the brain works are this and this. Now what do you think my personal main language is? Quickly. English. What’s your personal language? French. French, English, Pakistani, lots of different languages.

No! No! This is the human language. The human language is imagination and multiple sensory associations. That’s the way we all speak primarily. The other languages, verbal, are subroutine – important second routine. And that is the genesis of all creativity, all thinking.

And that’s how mind maps are generated as well. Here’s an example. This is one study in American Mexico with young children and their creativity. General creativities show that as people get older, creativity does what? It goes down. And everybody knows it and all the studies prove it. And that is “normal.” However, that’s the bad news.

The good news is: it is not natural, as you are about to see, one of the most moving and delightful moments of my life. This is a study done with little children. They were asked to generate as many ideas or uses for a paperclip they could think of in ten minutes. This is the first example. Here is a little boy. In ten minutes, he generated four ideas. Four ideas! His researcher, lady Emmerick Jenkins, taught him for one hour only that radiant human language and thus, mind maps. He had one hour lesson.

Then he was asked the same question: how many can you think of? He was thinking of an elastic band. How many uses for an elastic band? Same time, same paper, same fundamental equipment, same brain, one hour later, that’s what he did. Twenty-two ideas. And he got no more marks for anything else. But you look at those lovely little circles, what are they? They’re his feet.

Those are his little trousers. Those are his little hands. And what’s that rising sun above the elastic band? That’s his head. And when he did it, in the beginning of the first test, he was saying, “I can’t. I’m not very creative. I’m not creative,” vocally. When he did that, he looked up at the researcher and said, “I’m a genius!” And he is! I mean, look at it! That’s one hour before from the information age. One hour later from the intelligence age. And that mind map is a flower of intelligence. So all around the planet, there are these flowers of intelligence.

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And one flower is the real power. That is the power of intelligence, the power of you, the power of every brain on the planet. So, that is really flower power. That’s flower power. So, let me just tell you a couple of stories and then conclude.

First of all, the baby, and we’ll talk about science. You notice, by the way, that that little mind map, the boy, shows that intelligent thinking, mind mapping, radiant thinking is egalitarian. It’s egalitarian. It’s the equal opportunity of every brain, every person on the planet to be brilliant, as indeed they are. So science.

What is a scientist? You all know that you’re not a scientist? Therefore, you know what it is you’re not. So what’s a scientist? A scientist is not some weak person in a white lab coat, in a dangerous stinking laboratory. A scientist is a person who follows the experimental methodology: hypothesis – an idea – the prediction that this may happen – the experiment – then you get the result, you do the comparison, you make your conclusion, you have your summary, and then you continue to the next experiment. Babies are often written about as the real example of the fundamental aggressive or violent destructive nature of the human being. May I have a piece of paper? I’m a baby.

You’ve given me a piece of paper. You’ve given me two. Will you get this piece of paper back in this way? No. So what happens? In every country around the planet, male or female, this. What’s the little baby? A scientist. A pure scientist. What is the engineering, mechanical, tensile strength of this material? Check it as a musical instrument. What is the social economic value of this? Anybody want some? Stick it in the billion faceted chemical laboratory. Not so good. Try it as a musical instrument and then what? Throw it. Throw it away.

On to the next experiment. How many of you were babies? How interesting! So now you’re 3-4-5 years old and you’re walking with mommy and daddy. There’s a big puddle there, surrounded by little and larger stones. What’s the hypothesis in the 3-4-5-year-old child’s brain? What’s the hypothesis? A big splash. Yes. Little stone, probably a little splash Pop! Correct.

Next hypothesis? Bigger rock, bigger splash. Let’s try that! Wreow, bang! Yes! Third hypothesis is what? Jump. I’m bigger than that rock. Look at this. Wham! The big splash! Scientist. How many of you play around with your food? Oh, interesting! Everybody. Ladies and gentlemen, how many of you are scientists? All of you. All of you. All experimenters. All child-like.

And once upon a time, 15 minutes ago, you thought you weren’t one. And so does the whole planet. And TED is a real intelligence agent in showing people who they really are. You’re scientists. Imagine that the entire planet believes that. You are not poets. How many of you have written one or two poems in your life, little poems to mommy, daddy, grandpa, little animal, brother, sister, new lover, something painful, something happy? How many of you have written a little poem? Everybody. How can you say you’re not poets, when you write poetry? You’re obviously poets. How many of you are poets? All of you.

So imagine spending the rest of your life as a poet and a day-dreamer, where that power lies. “Pow-er,” is what it is, isn’t it? “Pow-ers!” and that fires poetry. And imagination does. And my final story, which is sad but very informative: When I was younger, I was travelling in the underground behind a little girl and her mom. The tube was going faster and faster. For the first time in my life, I thought, it’s going to crash. It’s going too fast.

As I first thought that, the little girl says to mommy, “Mommy, it’s going so fast, we can go in into tomorrow. And then we can tell daddy what’s going to happen.” And I thought, “Wow!” And as I thought that, bang! “Don’t do that! Don’t do that again! That’s stupid. Think properly!” And there was a little five-year-old girl, Einsteinium, and the day-dream was crushed out.

So around the planet, we have crushed, we have shackled, we have restrained, we have trained inappropriately creativity and poetry. And you are all poets. You are all therefore artists. You are all scientists. You are all child-like. You are therefore going to be warriors of the mind, because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? You are warriors of the mind and its beauty. And one of the perfect examples of that is the poet laureate Ted Hughes, who was one of my best friends. His whole focus was to take all the children and show them that their imagination, that their day-dreaming was everything that was important. And that’s how they would grow. That’s how they would become real humans.

And they were all by definition poetic. So let me end, waving my wand. This is far more powerful than Harry Potter’s wand. This is the colors for the brain – all the colors you love – that will inform and ignite your brilliance. Ted Hughes loved the poems about the eagle.

He thought of children as eggs that needed to be looked after and incubated so that they could then fly. So, I wrote for him and for you a poem about his spirit, his vast spirit of a grown working poet who said – and I confirm, “Every brain is phenomenally powerful, can therefore make all kinds of difference, can work for the better future of the planet.” So Ted was like a giant eagle in his eyrie, brooding vastly, gigantically, over the fragile eggshells of the minds, the brains of the children. Let them fly!” That is a gift from Ted, through me, for you, the warriors of the mind, the poets. This is a gift for you, from TED. Thank you.