I was with a friend at school and he really wanted to be a great fighter. I remember that he had a fight after school one day and that I showed him how he could win the fight using the power of his mind. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I still remember the look of confidence on my friends face as he marched out onto the battleground. I had shown him how powerful the mind could be, using the tools of a recent seminar.
I was 14 years old when I attended an introduction seminar for “mind power” in Tamworth NSW with a man named Peter McMahon. A woman was at the front of the room with her back to a white board. The audience then came up with 20 random items for her to commit to memory. I was amazed at her skill and ability as in a matter of minutes she learned and repeated back all 20 items. Even more impressive was the fact that she had learned every item independently of any other item. What I mean by this is that she could immediately recall item 7 or item 18. Finally the audience was asked to shout out any item, and she could immediately recall the associated number. I was so impressed and wondered if I could learn this party trick.
This memory exercise was a demonstration for an upcoming 4 day seminar on the power of the mind. I recall that the seminar was expensive, yet my father believed in seminars and therefore signed our family up to attend. I ended up doing the seminar, and the memory component was only one part of the seminar. I leaned a great deal from the seminar and was given a system for training memory. Only a small amount of time, perhaps 1 hour was dedicated to practicing the skills of memory. This was not enough time to really make a huge change. However I was taught some fundamental skills that set up a foundation for how to use my memory, and I have used these skills throughout my life.
I had a desire to improve my memory as i believed that having a great memory would mean that I would be successful in life. Like any skill, I understood that practice was required. I also know that practice does not make perfect, rather perfect practice makes perfect. Attending this seminar enabled me to learn from someone who had mastered the skill, so that I could then practice the skill in the best possible way.
I believe that seminars have great power to lead a person toward change, however to make and keep those changes one must continually practice the skills. The old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, comes to mind. Therefore we should continue to attend seminars, and improve our knowledge and skill. Continue to put what we have learned into practice so that our competence improves. It is the repetition of the behaviour that leads to success. Repetition is the mother of skill. You and I could listen to the same talk or attend the same seminar several times, and continue to get breakthrough results. We could commit a quote, poem or idea to memory, and continue to repeat it in our mine over and over and over again, and continue to learn from it. I wanted to develop a great memory and therefore I have practiced the skills of memory many times.
Several months after the seminar my father Chris began working directly with Peter McMahon. With the support of my mother I was then placed out in front of the people to demonstrate my memory skills. I had to remember 20 random items. I had done it perfectly many times in private, however with the pressure of being in front of a room full of people, I only got 19 out of 20 correct. The word that I got wrong was ‘twist drill’. Now what’s funny is that this was more than 20 years ago, and I can still remember the item I missed. I got 19 items correct but cannot remember a single one of those items. I succeeded 19 times and yet it was my 1 failure that I remember even to this day. This failure continued to play on my mind, and this drove me to focus even more on making sure that my memory was excellent. I did not want to be in that position ever again and therefore I practiced a lot.
There are two basic drives inside each of us, and they are pain and pleasure. It has been said that we will do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. Have you also noticed that when pain is attached to an event, we remember that event? The reason the event is remembered so clearly is that the strong negative emotion of pain, locks the memory into our mind in a way that it is easy to remember. This is how memory works? When we want to lock something into our mind, it becomes easier if we attach emotion to it. Memory is improved when attached to emotion. As I think about this answer that I got wrong, what was happening emotionally to me? Was I embarrassed? Was I feeling like a failure? Was I angry with myself for not remembering that 1 item? Whatever the case was these negative feelings locked that situation into my long-term memory.
You see, when there is high level of emotion, there is strong memory. Where there is a low level of emotion, it is often harder to recall a memory.
Our lives are shaped by Significant Emotional Events. Some are positive and some are negative, however all of these events can be life altering. There are two ways in which Significant Emotional Events occur in our lives. The first way is to just live life in reaction, and the second is creation. A person who lives in reaction will wait for the engine knock in the car, rather than getting a prevention check and a tune up. A person living in reaction will wait for the stroke before quitting smoking. A person living in reaction will wait for the divorce rather than participate in early intervention relationship courses. A person living in reaction will get a second and third credit card to pay off the first one, rather than live within their means. A professional sportsperson living in reaction will find themselves bankrupt in their 40’s because of their failure to investing their millions wisely in their 20’s. A person living in reaction will wait for the heart attack before they consider their diet and health.
When these situations such as bankruptcy, heart attack and divorce strike, it is highly likely they will form the basis of a Significant Emotional Event. These can cause us to make dramatic changes in our lives.
The second way that we can have a Significant Emotional Event is to create one. This is the reason that I attend Seminars. Seminar instructors seek to create an environment where each participants will have a Significant Emotional Event. I personally prepare myself to attend a seminar by planning to play full out, thereby ensuring that the seminar becomes a Significant Emotional Event that will change my life. How do I know this? It has less to do with the seminar, and more to do with my desire to improve the quality of my life.
I will write more on this subject later. For now I will bring this article full circle by speaking more about memory. I began practicing memory pegs and have effectively remembered 100 items. I also believe that I could do several hundred items if required. I got good at doing memory pegs through repetition. There is no other way to master any skill. We must practice until we become proficient and reach a flow state, which is the highest level of competence.
There are four levels of competence. First is unconscious incompetence. The condition of this level of competence is Bliss. The second is conscious incompetence. The condition of this level of competence is Pain. The third level is conscious competence. The condition of this level of competence is effort. Finally the fourth level of competence. The condition of this level of competence is Flow.
Therefore we need to have both confidence and competence.
I learned this lesson when I was in high school. I had just attended the seminar as a 14 year old boy and was very excited to share the information with everyone and anyone. I had a friend at school that had a yelling match with another teenager of similar age and size. This fellow was from a different school, and he told my friend that they could settle their differences on the football oval after school. My friend Steve was upset and scared because he was not a fighter, but he was angry at this guy and wanted to teach him a lesson.
I told him that I could help. I then explained to him that the mind is so powerful that it can bring things into the material world just by thinking about it. I told him about the law of attraction even before the movie came out, and the power of visualisation and meditation.
During the course of the day we did visualisation exercised together at least 3 times. Each time I had him visualise that he punching his opponent and winning the fight. That he was victorious and achieved great results. Each time he became more confident in his ability to fight and win. My friend was not a fighter, and had never done any serious fight training.
The time for the fight arrived and he walked out confidently to meet his challenger. He walked up put his hands up to block his face and moved aggressively forward, sure that he would intimidate his opponent into submission. The first punch was thrown and landed. The second punch was thrown and landed. All I can remember is my friend looking at me with shock and surprise on his face. You see he was the one being hit. His opponent had obviously trained a lot and was able to fight.
As I slunk away somewhat embarrassed I thought to myself, confidence and competence. Mental note.
It is great to be energetic, excited, and enthusiastic. It is great to have confidence and great positivity. What is more important however is the ability to also have the tools and skills.
Once again we must be CONFIDENT and COMPETENT.
More now on memory and in particular long term memory.
Many years ago I was sitting at work in the BP service Station at Oxley in Brisbane, almost falling asleep when a man entered and asked me if I was listening to the news. He then told me that planes had just flown into the trade center towers in America. I immediately turned on the radio and listened in horror. When I arrived home I watched the television until mid-morning. Sleep had fled from my eyes and I remember that situation like it was yesterday. I remember the feelings of confusion as to why anyone would do such a horrible thing. I remember feeling devastated for the family and friends of those who died. I remember having tears in my eyes as I thought about the senseless death and waste of human life. I felt a lot of emotion that day. I am sure that each of you did also. Who here can remember this incident? Who can remember some of the thoughts and emotions that you felt.