Taking NotesI can’t remember exactly what episode it was.

Cal Fussman is a writer.

That seems to undersell it a bit, but he researches. He interviews. He reports. He writes books. All kinds of things.

But at the heart he experiences life, he does things, he meets people and he writes about it.

And he’s really good at it.

I first heard about him when he was on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. Then Cal interviewed his longtime friend Larry King for an episode.

And I can’t remember where Cal told this story but it was a great one and made me smile.

No Notes

Cal told this story about meeting another great writer, Harry Crews.

Now Harry had the reputation of being a drunk. Possibly also someone that did drugs. And when Cal first met Harry, Harry was just waking up and still in a drunken stupor.

But Cal really wanted to sit and talk with Harry so Harry kind of sobered up and they went out…for a drink.

They got to talking awhile and finally Cal asked a question that he had been thinking about and stewing over as he looked at Harry:

How do you remember stuff for your stories?

The implication was that Harry was drunk a lot of the time. His brain cells were probably fried a good amount. And yet he had this talent for writing really great pieces.

I’m going to paraphrase, but here is what Cal said that Harry told him in response:

I never took notes in school (or even now). I didn’t do the best in school. I can see why taking notes is important. You need to because your brain knows that it’s worthless so it doesn’t remember it even though you need the info for a test.

But…the good shit sticks.

When I heard Cal tell this on the podcast my face lit up.

Cal had been struggling for a long time to write a story. He had lost his notes. Flood or fire or something like that. And he was really struggling to think about how he could write this story without any of his notes.

Then he spoke with Harry and realized that the good shit really does stick.

My Own Quick Story

I was not a good note taker in school.

In fact, I never really took notebooks to class. Middle school. High school. Even in college.

I just showed up, listened and went home.

I was pretty much a B student all the way until college. Then I was pretty much a C student the first two years. Then the last two years in business courses I was back to being a B student.

My way of learning was just listening. And without really realizing it the good shit stuck. The rest went in one ear and out the other.

Obviously that’s not the best for school situations. You have to remember things your brain doesn’t deem important if you want to pass tests.

But for what I wanted to do in life, run a business, the stuff that really mattered seemed to stick.

I don’t mean that in a way that I think I’ve learned everything.

Not even close.

I’m trying to take a beginner’s mindset through life. Always learning. Always listening.

A Note On Listening

I don’t claim to be the best listener, but I think I’m pretty good.

One thing I learned or kind of picked up on fairly young is that you can’t listen if there are distractions.

Today it’s phones.

When I was growing up and in school it was taking notes. I didn’t want to be writing things down all the time because I wanted to be listening.

When you have a conversation with someone you don’t sit and take notes. Unless you’re a report. And even then those reporters often have audio recorders.

It’s good to listen without distraction. Listen and the good shit will stick.

Final Thought

I don’t really have a takeaway or anything for this post.

Maybe it’s to listen more. Eliminate distraction.

Or maybe it’s to let go a little of trying to remember everything. It’s not necessary. The good shit will stick. Your brain is incredibly powerful. Much more powerful than we even realize.

If you need something…truly¬†need something…your brain will remember.

Trust it and let it filter out the unimportant and remember the good shit.

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