I’ve been mind mapping for many years now and it is a tool I could not get along without. It is important that you master it for any number of reasons, not the least of which is for capturing your perceptions following an extended remote viewing session (as you are taught in class). In addition, it is absolutely the most valuable tool for capturing during the day on projects, existing or future. Learn mind mapping and you will never look back. You will wonder how you got along without it all these years.

How do you learn it? Well, you can read any number of books about it, or, you can simply jump in and figure it out as you go. If you were asking me to give you guidance on mind mapping ten years ago, I’d tell you to read a book or take a course and learn to use it before you get too involved. Ten years ago, mind mapping, mind mapping books and mind mapping software was relatively new. The science was as much an art form as anything else and most of the books and webpages showed it as such. The illustrations were colorful and complex, detailed and ornate. It was an elaborate process and, from my perspective, not functional, at least not for what I needed.

However, in 1999, while on a flight returning to Los Angeles from Sweden, where I’d been lecturing, I read an article discussing the “miracle of mind mapping” and how it was being used in a number of complex management tasks. This particular article discussed existing mind mapping software and how it was being used to manage extremely complex projects. The example used was the Program Manager for “NASA’s Manned Mission to Mars.” Here was a man saddled with managing every facet of an extraordinarily complex undertaking. A lone man responsible for the day to day management of a program with the objective of standing a man on Mars, within thirty years, and bring him back. Well, it was mind mapping that allowed him to manage all of his sub-managers, and sub-sub-managers all the way down to the people turning screws and applying decals. It was an amazing effort.

The article detailed several software programs and showed the pros and cons of each, listing one program that is till in heavy use today–Mind Manager. Mind Manager was the program selected by the scientist managing the trip to mars. It offered the most flexibility and control at all levels. In short, try to picture every aspect of what it takes to put a man on mars beginning now, until the time he is back and debriefed. Every detail of that operation from planning, design, engineering, manufacturing, training, educating had to be in place, monitored, adjusted, tweaked, upgraded, etc., etc. If you think about it, the person, or persons who would fly this mission had not yet been conceived. I don’t know if that act was detailed in the mind map, but to someone’s amazement, I’ll bet it was, somewhere.

It was an amazing portrayal of how many moving pieces go into a project of this nature, and, the article pointed out, this was only a micro snap shot of what was going on in the human mind at all times. The beauty of the mind map is that it was an objectified image of the human mind. A two-dimensional, embedded diagram of thought, logic and reason. It was also the presentation of dreams, as if they were held between two pieces of glass and being observed by all who zeroed in on them. The mind map offered that degree of resolution. You could focus all the way down to a single person ordering a part for something, and there would be a branch of thought leading to an action. Perhaps, the act of installing the part and all that was required to do that; holding it in place, images of the four screws to hold it in place, which direction those screws were to be turned, and with what tool you would use to turn them. Imagine the detail? And then, realize you could pull back to a figurative position a mile high above the project and see forty years of work by every department, every manager, every person, place and thing associated with the project. Phenomenal.

Additionally the program manager could dissect the mind map by task, sub-task, department, managers, or timelines, using any number of tools provided in the software. Those dissected portions could be electronically packed up and transported in various forms to users of the map, or to people outside of the map’s circle. For example, if a manager wanted subordinates to update their portions of the map, he could select it, bundle it and send it to them with a requirement to update it. They do that and send it back. The updates automatically populate the master map. Additionally, this process could be done, and the manager could send the selection to someone for review. If that person did not have the software installed, the email came with that capability attached. The person did not have to download the full program; just what came with the email was all that was necessary to review the contents of the mind map. Again, these updates and reviews could arrive by email, snail mail, by pdf, or even translated into MSWord docs. It was a very powerful program.

Mind Map I was fascinated. I purchased Mind Manager the following day and quickly found that it was easy to capture the conceptual illusion of thoughts and manifest them into workable, manageable pieces of information. In fact, the entire book on Remote Viewing that you now use as a CRV manual was written from a mind map. That same mind map was used as the book proposal handed to the publisher. When they saw the book displayed across page after page in a nonlinear form, the publisher told me she had never before seen a book displayed in such complete and objectified form. To her, it was new, it was clear, and it was beautifully sensational, if not a little bit frightening to see the entire remote viewing process displayed in such a fashion. To be clear, when you see all that your mind does relative to anything in objectified form–it is inspiring. We are beautifully complex creatures, and our mind, when mapped, is astounding.

I think this is why so many people turned mind mapping into art in the early days. Some still do and it is fascinating to see. Thoughts and dreams are no longer limited as concepts, expressed only as spoken word. Now they can be rapidly snatched from illusion and transformed and objectified onto the page where they can be used as creative tools. For me, in 1999, this was like discovering fire.

But Mind Manger was fairly complex. There was a learning curve. However, because I’d spent some time understanding how language worked, and how thoughts worked, I understood the basics. This permitted me to move forward rather quickly. You might already be primed to move forward; then again, you might need some additional help.

With that, what should you do?

There are a large number of books on the subject–mind mapping. What you need to understand is that virtually all of them attach themselves to a specific software program. Most are not general in nature. Alternatively, they are designed to drive you to one or more of the authors programs, classes, software licenses, etc. It is rare to find a book that simply addresses mind mapping in broad strokes. You can spend some time looking, but I’m certain you will find this to be true.

Therefore, if I am recommending a book, I will more or less be recommending a software program or associated app, and that is not what I want to do at this time. There are just too many options and I would rather steer you on how to make your own choices, so here it goes.

I would prepare to do a lot of research on the subject. Fire up your computer and open your browser and then your favorite search engine and go to work. Do a key word search on mind mapping, then mind mapping books, and then mind mapping software, and then mind mapping apps, that is, if you use a smart phone and want an app that works on every device you have. I want to warn you, this can be exhausting. There are hundreds of books, and just as many software applications, and perhaps not as many apps, but they are rapidly increasing in number.

Key to this process is deciding what you want to use the mind mapping for. If you only intend to learn it to support extended remote viewing, then look for something free and what you believe will be easy to use. There are so many free programs out there that I can see absolutely no reason to drop money on something while you are still experimenting and exploring. There are also free books, and pamphlets, free presentations. A word of caution, it is the Internet and, of course, many of them are simply mining for your data. They will give you a free eBook, so long as you give them your email and phone number. Unfortunately this is business and this is what Internet business does. It is what you are taught to do and, in fact, even we do it. We want your data so that we can send you offers and information, and see if you would like to come to a lecture, a class, or buy a book or something else. It is what it is, and I’m just saying, “be careful out there.” If you trust the business, do it. If you aren’t sure about it–don’t do it. If you have no idea, err on the side of caution. Many of them promise the ability of opt out, but I’ve found not all of them honor that agreement. Again, if you are going to play out there, you pay your nickel and you take your chances.

I can tell you the program I use, and why I use it.

Untitled2I now use iThoughts. Why? Because it is simple, it is intuitive, and it is cost effective. You can find educational discounts, and you can look around for discounts on pricing. I was also able to load it onto both of my laptops without any hassle from the developer. That is not true of many programs these days, some want to force you to purchase an additional license for each computer. If you run into this, don’t buy it. Move on and find a program that you can purchase one license for, and load it onto the computers you use. I would not stand for anything else.

I stopped using Mind Manger (the program discussed in the NASA article back in 1999), several years ago. In my opinion, it just got too big for its britches. Too many “paid” upgrades and not enough increased capability and options. When that happens, I stop being a customer. I want flexibility and growth, and, if I am paying for the program in the first place, I don’t expect the next upgrade to be at cost to me. I know I will likely have tons of developers sending me hate mail for that statement, but it is how I feel. Typically, if I am asked to pay for upgrades, I will stop using the software and move on to the next guy who is still offering free upgrades. It is after all, mind mapping. It is not the solution to life, and there are only so many things you can do with mind mapping software.

Don’t get me wrong, mind mapping itself it limitless, what we are talking about is the program itself. What I am asking is how many different colors do you think you will need? How many different styles of connectors do you need? How many kinds of boxes, rectangles and ovals do you need? Do you care if the oval is 3D, or beveled, or will just a flat oval do? For me–make it flat. I do not think any faster, or clearer, nor do I find it applicable, or more useable when the oval is in 3D. That’s just me; I don’t need it. And if the difference is $35 in the cost of the program, and they both do exactly the same thing, but one is less colorful–give me the less expensive program.

These are the kinds of choices you need to make as you research, and this is why I cannot tell you which one to buy; book or otherwise. You have to read, test, and use the free trials to decide if it works for you.

Here is another tip. Only buy what you can try first. If the developer of a mind mapping software does not offer a free trial–I would not buy it! I can tell you that if it is not offered on the webpage, you should call them and ask for a free trial, sometimes that works. However, if they don’t agree, then move on. There are plenty who will give you a free trial, so why waste time with those who won’t. If they believe in the program themselves they will not think twice about letting you use it before you buy it. If no free trial, then it means they don’t believe in it, and they know you will probably want your money back. So don’t give it to them in the first place.

Another thing you need to explore is the sync options for your program. Do you want it to sync to a cloud, or to Drop Box, or Box, etc. Some of the developers are offering books, software and apps all of which sync, and all of which do this over a cloud they provide, and you pay for.

Again, this is a choice you make. For me, that was too much. Tony Buzan offers such a set up, and he looks like he is very successful with it. He has lectures (webinars) books, downloadable pdfs, eBooks as well as programs for laptops, desktops, pads and phones–it is a full on one stop shopping. Your call if this is right for you. It was not for me.

As I said, you must decide what you intend to use mind mapping for.

I want to capture my thoughts at all times, in all places, and with whatever I happen to have in my hand at the time. I want to capture notes and make mind maps for any thoughts I have, and if I am sitting in a restaurant with Patty and have my phone with me, I want the ability to open a map new or existing and go to work. I do not want to capture thoughts in a notes program and then wait until I get to my office and open a laptop and then start building a mind map by transferring notes. That is counter intuitive and non productive.

Untitled1If I am on the couch with my iPad, I want the same ability as if I am in my office and at my computer. And, of course, whatever I create on the iPad must be accessible on the phone or on the computer. iThoughts does that for me. So will dozens of other programs. You just start looking and see what you come up. Find what works for you.

My mind maps do not have to be interchangeable with other people. They are for me, and me alone. However, for lots of people, the ability to send a copy of the mind map to someone so they can use it is a huge deal. If that sounds like a feature you want; if you plan to use your mind maps as a collaborative tool then seek out this feature. For me, I don’t care. I know if someone buys iThoughts, I can share a map with them. Beyond that, I cannot honestly tell you if the feature to share is included. I typically do not share my maps, so, if I was going to show a map to someone, I know that I can transform it into a Word Doc, or as a PDF, or some other format that can be shared. What I am cutting out is the ability for the reviewer to manipulate the map. For me, at this point, that is not a need. If they can see it and comment on a pdf, I am fine with that.

I assure you that by the time you finish a trial use of 4 or 5 different programs, you will know which you like and what you want it to do. If you cannot figure it out within a few hours of working with it, toss it and move on to the next. Eventually you will find the one that makes you smile when you pick it up and start working. And that is how it must be if you expect it to be of benefit to you. It cannot slow you down; if it does, if you hesitate to use it for any reason, get rid of it and try another.

Here is one of my tests. If I have an idea, and I can’t get it into a mind map within a few seconds, then whatever setup I have is not what I want. It has to flow like your mind does. If you are frightened to use it because it is too overwhelming, then leave it where you found it. If you have to take a class to learn how to use it, drop it. Why bother? This is supposed to be helping you manifest ideas and capture free flow thoughts. Plucking them out of the darkness of your mind and placing them into useable form. If you have to open the help menu every time you start working, you have the wrong program.

I want to be clear; there are programs out there that simply out high-speed themselves. They are too much money, too many features, too many options, and too many choices to be any good to anyone but those who like having too much of everything. To be sure that type of program has an audience. Not me. Some people like having the biggest and baddest of something, but that does not mean they have the “bestest.” That said, if complexity and lots of choices it works for them, great.

For me–simple is best. Simple = creative, and creative = speed, and speed = productivity, and productivity = transfer and translation of the message, the intent, the desire. If you want to change the world, or impact, educate, inform or just make a difference, you have to unlock all the brilliance inside your brain. You are all so very brilliant! It is in there, I can see it in your eyes every time you are in the classroom in front of me. Learn to mind map and all that greatness will be there in front of you waiting for you to do something with it. Trust me, once you get it out of those neurons and glial cells, and onto the page via the mind map, you will know what to do next.