top of page
Join my email list for updates.

Thanks for subscribing!

The cultish thing I did in school growing up in America, and how you can use it.

“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

If you grew up in America like me, you’ll know that line by heart. It’s the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance and every day Monday through Friday at 7:25 a.m. from the time I was six I repeated those words along with the morning announcements. I will never forget those words, and despite political tension and contrast in America, I know what the country is supposed to stand for because of the repetition.

Was this cultish? Maybe.

Was this effective? Definitely.

In modern culture, education is structured in a way where many ideas are only presented once. If you want to remember something long-term, once is not enough. Think about it. If you don’t lift weights for a few years when you go back you’ll be a beginner. The mind is no different. People forget what they don’t use unless there’s a really good reason to remember it. People will even forget their native languages after three to five years of no practice (1).

In this series of blog posts talking about how to engage hybrid working communities, one of the key ideas you should take away is that engaged communities unite over a common purpose and share common values. There are a number of techniques mentioned in this series which use memory design and behavioural psychology to create positive associations with your organisation’s values and purpose, but it’s not enough to introduce these things once. When it comes to company values, you need to repeat them.

How repetition works

Microsoft did research in 2018, explaining that anywhere from 6 to 20 times is the ideal amount of repetition to capture attention and drive initial decisions (2). When it comes to making sure employees remember values and purpose, however, longevity is key. The goal for your purpose and values should be to get them into your employees long-term memories, but the brain takes a journey to get memory to this stage and understanding this process is crucial for knowing what strategies to implement and when.

Please appreciate how I tried to pick the prettiest picture involving the Myelin Sheath possible. I even typed in "myelin sheath aesthetic" on Google

Sensory memory is the earliest stage of memory (3). This is why triggering the senses when designing processes is so important. It’s the first step of exposure that goes past the point of noticeable difference in the brain to capture attention. However, short-term memory works like a sieve, and information is quickly forgotten if there’s not either a strong reason to remember it, or a repetition to recall it. This is why once attention is captured, using memory design techniques to release dopamine works so well. Dopamine release creates positive associations with actions which creates an incentive for people to repeat behaviours.

Repetition works because ideas and memories change connections within your brain’s nerve cells. These connections are protected by myelin, which is an insulating layer around the nerves. The mor