The Medicine and Magic of Mind Mapping
What is life without magic? What is life without medicine?
We are always either solving something or creating something.
Mind mapping helps us to do both.
Do you have a practice you go to when in need of clarity and when in need of inspiration? Are they the same thing? For me, I have been fortunate to find a few practices that both support and inspire me personally and professionally. Mind mapping is one of these essential practices. The best part is that it is as simple as it is profound. Both the process of mind mapping and the results are rewarding personally and professionally.
Mind mapping is as much a science as it is an art. It is a vehicle for clarity and for inspiration. It is a vehicle for efficient organization and elegant communication. There have been a few consistent practices I have used throughout my life and mind mapping is definitely one of them. As simple as it is versatile, mind mapping has many applications and limitless potential. If you are already a dedicated mind mapper you’re probably thinking, Yes! Obviously. If you’re new to mind mapping, my hope is that you’ll see why mind mapping is so versatile and powerful as you read this book.
As a leadership strategist, writer, and yoga teacher, I use mind mapping in both my professional and personal life. The applications continue to grow as I have new needs for problem solving and creating. I teach mind mapping to leaders because it is an accessible and powerful technique for alignment, brainstorming, and planning. I use mind mapping to outline books and articles. I use mind mapping to design sequences. I use mind mapping to resolve personal dilemmas and decisions. I use mind mapping to come up with new ideas for my business and my books. I use mind mapping to plan and document while traveling. In this book, I’ll share the medicinal and magical benefits of mind mapping, both functional and creative, and I’ll share many examples from over a decade of mind mapping.
Mind mapping offers remedies for so many things at work and in life. Mind mapping can be used for problem solving, resolving dilemmas, and making decisions. On my hardest days, I have often turned to mind mapping to resolve personal and professional challenges. You can use mind mapping to answer a question as seemingly simple as, “Why do I feel bad?” or as seemingly complicated as, “What job offer should I take?” Instead of searching on the Internet or seeking external validation, the true answer to an unresolved situation can often be resolved by mind mapping. Mind mapping is medicine for personal and professional growth.
Mind mapping is an essential tool for organizing information that is otherwise an intangible ball of chaos in our mind. When we mind map, we reflect and think in order to connect and organize information and ideas. The process calms the mind. The process of mind mapping unravels and unveils important information we may have overlooked or forgotten. Mind mapping is medicine for the chaos of our mind. Mind Mapping is medicine for information overload.
In work and in life, complex communication can also create more confusion than clarity and progress. Even with the best intentions and thoughtfulness, articulating your vision or point of view can create more confusion of misunderstanding. With mind mapping techniques in hand, communication is more effortless and clear. Mind mapping is a powerful tool for communication, especially in a business context. Mind mapping is medicine for leading and teaching.
As you’ll see in the applications, since the process of mind mapping involves introspection and sensory withdrawal from outside stimuli, the process involves mindfulness practice, almost like a meditation.
Mind mapping is most often used for functional applications like organizing information, teaching, studying, planning, and alignment. However, mind mapping is a powerful tool for creating as well. By “magic” I am primarily referring to creativity. The expansive quality of the mind mapping process makes it an ideal technique for brainstorming and expanding on original ideas. You can work through creative blocks like, “Could I write a book on this concept?” or, “What should I include in my next presentation?” If you have a creativity block or trouble focusing to expand on an idea or project, mind mapping gives you that focused, manifested platform to make progress without limits or judgments.
It’s challenging and exciting to start with a core idea or concept and build the outline or vision with a mind map. While mind mapping, I often feel inspired. Mind mapping gives us a platform to explore and imagine. As you’ll see in the applications, I use mind mapping to outline my books and articles. I use it to concept new business projects and creative endeavors. Starting with just a simple core concept, I use mind mapping to develop the surrounding ideas and organization. Mind mapping is a platform for creativity. When starting a creative endeavor, mind mapping gives you unlimited potential to ideate and create a foundation for direction. The process and results are magical for personal and professional growth.
How to Use this Book
This book is for both new and seasoned mind mappers. In this book, you’ll enter my world of mind mapping and build your own. You’ll learn about the basics of mind mapping, a variety of applications for personal and professional development, and exercises and resources for continuing your mind mapping journey. There are six applications focuses: leadership, personal development, mental health, business & entrepreneurship, writing, and teaching & studying. The book chapters are designed in a specific intentional order, to guide you through a progression in the realm of personal and professional mind mapping — from professional, to personal, and to professional again. However, feel free to navigate to the applications you are most curious about. You can read the book in a non-linear way and still get the benefits of the applications.
The first chapter of applications for leadership contains some of the applications from my leadership guidebooks, Awake Leadership and Awake Ethics. Chapters 2 through 6 contain other related personal and professional applications that I have never shared before. These applications also enhance your career and life potential and show that leadership is a journey of both personal and professional growth.
This book is a celebration of the versatility and beauty of mind mapping. I hope that this book provides you with an easy-to-use guide for how to mind map and that the applications inspire you to use mind mapping as medicine and magic in your own life. This technique has added immense value to my personal and professional life in so many ways and I’m happy to feature many of those applications in this book. Through the applications and examples, you’ll learn a lot about me as an engineer turned leadership strategist, writer, and yoga teacher. I hope this book provides you with helpful guidance and inspiration on your journey!
The Distinct Qualities and Powerful Benefits of Mind Mapping
The benefits of mind mapping are endless. Mind mapping provides medicinal and magical benefits, but there are layers of benefits within the medicinal and magical qualities that are profound for leaders, founders, and business owners.
I have already mentioned some and you’ll see the benefits in action as you see the applications in this book. You’ll uncover your own benefits, since each person has his or her own uses for mind mapping and therefore benefit for mind mapping. Mind mapping can be used in so many ways to solve problems or to create new ideas.
Below is a mind map showing some of the primary benefits of mind mapping.
These benefits are more specific examples of the medicinal and magical qualities of mind mapping. As you learn the applications in this book, you’ll see that each mind map can have medicinal or magic benefits depending on the purpose and situation. They most often are both medicinal and magical.
Layers of Gold
Layers are a distinct quality of a mind map. Our brain also contains layers and layers of thoughts, right? As you mind map and create these layers, you’re actually mimicking how the brain works in understanding concepts and organizing information. By manifesting these layers on paper, you’re unpacking all the junk in your mind in an intentional way. So, mind mapping is a mind-clearing technique.
It takes discipline to map a little longer. With all the distractions of technology, work, and life in general, we often don’t make time for solo reflection, introspection, strategy, or creativity. However, this solo time is often when we have grand realizations that lead us in a more aligned, authentic direction. It is when we often have the most unique, original ideas and solutions. Use the many examples in this book as prompts for your solo personal and professional development work.
Within the layers that often seem unapproachable, there are pockets and seeds of creative solutions and ideas waiting to be found. As you begin to mind map to unpack and organize your thoughts, you will also uncover the magic. It takes consistent, dedicated practice.
Mind Mapping as Functional Art
Another way to think about the notion of medicine and magic is to think about mind mapping as functional art. Functional in that it can be used for logical applications and utility, like aligning a team or writing a shopping list. Artistic in that it is expansive and inspiring. It enhances the creative process and serves as a vehicle for manifesting creative projects, too.
As an engineer by education, I first started using mind mapping as a technique for planning projects in school and at my first internship. Engineering is all about utility, until you start to involve the designers and artists. So, I mainly looked for functional applications of mind mapping to use in studying, organizing projects, and leading teams effectively. I used mind mapping as a very logical tool for organizing and understanding information. When I became a leader of a team in the business world, I used mind mapping for organizing my team’s work and clearly communicating our goals. Mind mapping became a technique for concise, clear communication as well. I’d keep our team mind map up in my office as a reminder for what we needed to accomplish that week.
However, as I continued on my personal and professional journey, I found that mind mapping could come in handy for more than utility. I encountered personal struggles with happiness and direction during school and during my early career. I didn’t have formal education in art and craved a way to express my creativity. Mind mapping very organically became a vehicle for this softer side of myself as well, as both medicine during my personal growth journey and magic in manifesting my creative contributions. I used mind mapping to outline my first book, Awake Leadership — to expand on my core message about leadership and write my story. I used mind mapping to dig into what makes me happy and how to move into more alignment with that vision and my true desires. I used mind mapping to brainstorm ideas for my business and my branding aesthetic. You’ll see these applications and many others in this book.
This connection between utility and art can is reflected in mind mapping’s ability to connect mind, heart, and body through the process of introspection, unpacking intellect, and physically making the map. Like art, mind mapping is equally as much about the process as it is the result. It’s often informative, comforting, and inspiring at the same time. It’s a technique for healing and for progress where you can enjoy the process and the results.
The result of a mind map is often like a work of art. It is also often like performing surgery on yourself — or on your mind — because it’s a summary of all the stuff in your mind about a subject. It is a representation of what is stored in your mind. You can take one mind map and organize it to make an organized representation of what’s in your mind, to calm and organize your mind! While the process allows you to unravel ideas and write them down in a simple and organized way, the result is a vehicle for moving forward with your creation in a logical yet organic way.
How to Mind Map: a Quick-Start Guide
A mind map is a visual diagram that organizes and displays information, and so much more
Tony Buzan coined the term Mind Map in the 1970’s. Buzan is known is the inventor of the mind map. He invented mind mapping in school as a studying technique. By organizing volumes of complex information, he was able to better understand and remember information in the map form.
Today, mind mapping has thousands of applications and is used across the world in many industries. Mind mapping has a growing fan base in business, education, and personal growth.
Mind mapping is different from other visualizations like block diagrams or word clouds. The differentiation is in the purpose and the structure. The purpose of a block diagram is to show a flow of information, or to show a process. The purpose of a word cloud is to show relative volume of certain words. Structurally, a mind map is unique because it focuses around one core idea and is expansive in nature. Mind maps have two primary purposes or goals. One purpose of a mind map is to organize and communicate information efficiently and clearly (the medicine). Another purpose is to expand on an idea or core concept (the magic). However, organizing information and expanding on a core concept are simple goals with millions of different use cases. You’ll see many use cases in the applications.
The How-to Basics
To mind map, you begin with a core central topic. To create your mind map layers, branch off the central topic by free-associating. Use lines to represent connections and circles to represent words. Each arm or branch on a mind map is a category of information or a train of thought related to the central topic. Continue to create layers by free-associating.
You’ll find that you soon create a visual diagram of what you understand and know about the central topic; you are creating a map of your mind’s understanding or perception of the topic.
Mind mapping is best learned through examples. If this seems simple yet confusing, hold tight and continue on to the applications to see mind mapping in action. As I mentioned, part of the magic of mind mapping is that it is so simple to do yet so profound. One can make mind mapping as complicated as one wants, but the foundation of how to mind map is very simple.
Basic Ordering Ideas
Mind mapping is traditionally done by free-associating as you branch. However, after making your first map via free-association, Basic Ordering Ideas can be used to structure and organize your map.
Basic ordering ideas are labels that define what each layer of a mind map should represent. You’ll see plenty of examples of basic ordering ideas in the applications found in this book! Just keep this concept in mind for now.
Let’s get started!
Mind mapping is best learned through example and practice. Now that you have a general idea of how mind mapping works, let’s look at the first set of applications for leadership.