The three Pillars of PKM Jens Peter Olesen | unsplash

The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe. Michio Kaku.


The brain is the control center of our lives. Our brain is the processing center for all the information we receive from our senses. It controls our emotions, motor skills, memory, and thoughts. Our brain determines how we respond to events. It, along with the spinal cord, forms our central nervous system. 

The Brain weighs about 3 pounds, contains blood vessels and nerves. The brain is mostly fat, so I have been correct all these years when I told people I was a fathead. For a more detailed discussion, see the National Institute of Neurological disorders article Brain Basics; Know your brain.

Thought occurs in the frontal lobes directly behind the forehead by acting as short-term storage sites and keeping us focused on one idea. They have historically performed experiments on people who have had their left and right brains severed. Neurologists have discovered that the left brain is the analytical part of the brain. Our left brain is where we exhibit logical, organized, scientific, language, and speaking. So, our left brain takes the inputs from our senses, analyses them, and jumps to conclusions. This is a very important concept to understand and accept.

For example, you see two people talking across a room while occasionally looking in your direction. Your left brain concludes, They are talking about you, when they may have been simply talking about the picture on the wall behind you. This is how we often get our feelings hurt when we jump to these conclusions and accept our left brain’s guesses about what is going on rather than asking questions or ignoring this wrong impression altogether. 

The right side of our brain is the side that is imaginative, creative, intuitive and empathetic. Here is where the creative writers and artists live. We think of people with dominant right brain activities as the creative people, where those that live in their the left brain are the scientists, CPAs, accountants, and mathematicians. I have, through my life, moved from primarily being a left-brain person to more of a right brain person. My children and old coworkers can attest to the fact that I hated writing and yet now I am taking part in a 40 for 40-day writing and publishing challenge.

Your biological brain and information overload

Focusing our frontal lobe on the handling and remembering all the information that interests us is a task that only a few can handle. I know I cannot. While my wife and I were married before she passed, she was always asking me about something from the past. My answer, because I couldn’t or wouldn’t remember, was that I was focused on the future. More likely I was just in overload mode. Therefore, my personal knowledge system is so important. I can now offload most of the remembering onto my digital brain (PKM Pillar 3) and only use my biologic brain to do such things as:

   Act as the filter and pick from the torrent of information the stuff I need to know now or the stuff I might want to know in the future.

   Act as the conductor or director of the orchestra and direct the information to where it needs to live. Either in my getting Stuff done area or into the resources area in my digital brain.

This frees up my biologic brain for thinking, decision making, self-reflection, and building relationships. My biologic brain becomes the curator of my information, the controller of my life rather than the historian. I want my biologic brain to control my reactions, control my mindset, and to analyze and control my feelings. My mindset is the most important filter in the analysis of my left brain. It helps me to respond rather than react. To ask rather than assume. To respond thoughtfully rather than emotionally. I can remember that my tactics in my younger days were to get louder when I described my position if you didn’t agree with me. Now I ask questions to find our common ground and to understand your concerns.


Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset the new psychology of success, discusses and explains how we respond in various situations and to various challenges. Her premise is that there are two mindsets or beliefs that we use when we approach the world. 

The first is the fixed mindset. 

A person with a fixed mindset believes that intellect and other human qualities are fixed at birth. These people have a response to difficulty and failure that is “it’s not my fault” because I wasn’t born with that capability. They have stereotypical reasons to justify not being able to do or learn something, such as I’m not smart enough. I can’t learn to write because I like math and science. 

The Second mindset is the growth mindset. 

A person with a growth mindset responds differently to failure by realizing that they can learn with practice and persistence how to do almost anything they want. They see failure as a challenge and an opportunity. They know they can grow and change. Some things come naturally, of course, but we can always improve. 

How does mindset relate to our personal knowledge management system?

For me, growth comes from a mindset that focuses on lifetime learning and reading from many subjects. Now that I’m retired, I have more time to read philosophical and psychological articles rather than the information and project management subjects from when I was working. 

I expand my thinking to embrace ideas both old and new. It is no longer enough to have tunnel vision on one subject, you must learn how to be resilient, a good communicator, and a good team player to survive in the coming decades. My PKM system allows me to do this with the least amount of friction. 

I can build a repository of knowledge in my digital brain (PKM Pillar 3) that allows me to

  Learn new things when I need them.

Think and make the decisions that are needed to get the right stuff done at the right time.

Capture, store, retrieve and combine ideas as needed from my digital brain.

Do rather than trying to remember what, why, when, and where I saw that.

Continue along this journey with me and we will next discuss (PKM Pillar 3, your digital brain.) Then we will begin by adding details to each of these pillars.

Your challenge is to think about this, see if it makes sense and if not, please tell me why or ask questions by going to and sending me your thoughts and questions

“Despite past philosophic errors separating mind and body, we now know better. The mind is the brain in action; the brain is an organ of the body. Body, action, and thinking flow along identical biological conduits. The body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and regard of its operation.” – George Santayana.