As I type this I am sitting in my hotel room in New York City for the fourth year in a row. The first time was March 2008 and I had just returned from Afghanistan two months prior. The next year, in 2009 I ended up winning the USA Memory Championship and followed that with another victory in 2010.
The 2010 USA Memory Championship was a tremendous mental battle for me. I had only been able to sleep for a little over an hour before I entered into this mental tournament with some very smart people.
My aim and focus for 2011 is still to win the tournament but I have shifted my ‘pregame’ prep to that of simple relaxation. I have really forced myself to wake up early this week everyday so I could go to sleep early and most of all be tired by tonight! (Friday night).
As I contemplate the tournament tomorrow, I have many thoughts…
My first thought is that I am well prepared and organized. I believe I have a strong strategy to win and I am in a good position to 3-Peat as champ. I am confident, calm, focused and relaxed. Ultimately, I feel that I have nothing to prove and that has relaxed my mind.
I also know that in 2009 I was the surprise, no one suspected my high scores and in 2010 Nelson Dellis was the surprise, so who could be the surprise this year? Anyone…maybe a high school student or another? On the other hand, I am focusing on what I can do and hitting my scores. If I hit my scores I feel I will be tough to beat. If I hit my scores and I am still beat then whoever pulls that off will have played a great game and deserves the win. So my one focus is hitting my numbers and not being concerned with the other mental athletes.
I will spend the day today catching up on emails and business that I don’t want on my mind tomorrow. I may end up getting a massage or going for a walk. I will give a final mental visualization of the tournament outcome I desire and each event.
Tomorrow should be fun as in the morning I will reunite with my friends and finally meet Joshua Foer who has been loved and hated by the mental athlete community but seems to be a nice enough guy and I will have him sign a copy of his book Moonwalking With Einstein in the morning.
I will have 4-5 songs on my ipod that I will play over and over during the breaks:
– Free and Easy Down the Road I Go by Dierks Bentley (this is my theme this year)
– Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus
– Herb Brooks locker room speech delivered by Kurt Russell in the movie Miracle
– One Thing by Rich Mullins
– We are Not as Strong as We Think We Are by Rich Mullins
So with my ipod set and my mindset ready I really do feel good about Saturday. I certainly feel more relaxed than I did in 2010. In 2010, I think I got caught up in the ‘business deals’ that would happen as a result of me winning when in reality that will be there regardless of the outcome. Too many (especially after Joshua Foer’s deal) see this tournament as a road to fame and riches. What they fail to see is that Joshua was writing this book before he became champion. He got the book deal because he is a good writer and he had the right connections. If he built video games before the tournament and then after the tournament win came out with a memory game everyone would have said, ‘See if you win you get your own video game!’
The truth is good marketing and business skills will lead to deals after the tournament if they are to be had and not necessarily winning it. So while I realize this more in 2011 than I did in 2010 it does not mean that I am any less focused on the win or want it any less. I am still aiming for the title as my number one burning desire was never fame and fortune it is and always has been simply achieving, growing and competing….
By this time tomorrow I will have hopefully have memorized 140 names and be feeling good for the numbers event…I am excited…I am ready….this is gonna be fun 🙂