Tony Buzan , our founder and mentor, whose passing occurred just over one year ago, was originally motivated by the question of ” who is intelligent?” During his time at junior school the young Tony was struck by the anomaly that one boy, Barry, who had a tremendous knowledge of nature, repeatedly failed in school tests on his own favourite topic , because of an inability to express himself. He was so absorbed by nature that he failed to engage with other necessary elements of the academic curriculum.
It was no surprise that the nature expert was regularly consigned to the bottom of the class, in spite of the fact that Tony knew that this boy’s knowledge , of nature at least, was far superior to his own. The authorities had decided who was a good student and who was not. Tony experienced this as grotesquely unfair . He began to question this equation:
Who was intelligent and who was not?
This questioning eventually led him to three beliefs, which came to form the intellectual bedrock of his legacy.
The first belief was that an operations manual was needed for the human brain, not its medical functions , but the way it works.
The next was that every human has a spark of genius within himself or herself, but the problem was to ignite it.
Tony’s third and final insight was his invention of the Mind Map, a tool for recording thoughts, plans and general creativity, which bypassed conventional academic norms.
The Mind Map was predicated on radiant thinking, spreading out from a dominant central concept, utilising colour, dimension and association. The Mind Map also revealed itself as a powerful memory aid. Mind Maps have inspired millions of people, from global statesmen such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, USA presidential aspirant, Al Gore, to school kids around the planet. There is now, as a powerfully enduring testament to Tony’s legacy, a regular World Mind Mapping Championship, the most recent of which was staged in Beijing December 2019.
Tony went on to write over 140 books , translated into 40 languages , as well as lecturing around the world and making numerous tv programmes about his ideas. He was an enthusiastic player of mental games , such as chess and go, and a near Olympic standard rower on his favourite stretch of The Thames at Marlow, where he often skulled with Sir Steve Redgrave.
The perception that the Mind Map also promoted memory , drew Tony towards the foundation of the world memory championship at London in 1991. This was won (for the first of eight times) by the dyslexic Dominic O Brien. Growing from just eight entrants in 1991 to over three hundred entrants, the 2019 world championship was won by a teenage North Korean girl, against all comers, thus proving that the Mind sport of Memory has no boundaries, whether of gender, age, geography or beliefs. Both of those champions exemplified Tony’s belief that everyone possesses that immortal spark of genius, which merely awaits the right flame to set it in motion.