Ron White memory training expert on stress and your memory.

Do you know what one of the biggest enemies to your memory is?


Billy Joel sings in his song, ‘Pressure’,….’You will come to a place where loaded guns are in your face and you will have to deal with PRESSURE!’

To perform under pressure or stress is one of the unique qualities of high achievers. Have you ever known someone with so much talent and skill but in crunch time they just couldn’t deliver? Then others who seemed to thrive under pressure and stress? What is the secret? The secret is to keep your nerves in check and remain calm.

As I was training for the USA Memory Championship I hired a former US Navy SEAL TC Cummings and he shared with me a principle of the SEALs that says, ‘The more you sweat in times of peace the less you bleed in times of war.’ What this means is that the SEALs make their training so tough that they don’t just win in war, they dominate! They have made their training so stressful and full of pressure when the stress and pressure of war arrives they don’t crack under the pressure.

In order for me to train under stress and distractions TC suggested that I train in a wet suit, plastic playing cards and snorkel gear. I would memorize cards UNDER WATER! The fastest I ever memorized cards under water was about 1 minute 35 seconds. To put that in perspective no one has ever memorized a deck of cards faster ABOVE water at a memory tournament in the USA!

I would also train in places like noisy bars or rooms with kids running around. This got my mind to the point where I could focus with distractions. Then when I arrived at the tournament the distractions were gone and I didn’t just win but like a SEAl….I dominated!!!

Now for the average person who would like to train their memory to perform under pressure but doesn’t want to get in a pool, what can you do?

1. Learn a memory training system
2. Get a book of poems and take the book to a restaurant or bar and give yourself 15-20 minutes and see if you can memorize 15-20 lines of the poem with the distractions going around
3. Take a magazine to a noisy mall and flip through the first 25-50 pages and see if you can remember  the main idea from each page
4. Attend a business meeting and make it a goal to memorize at least 20 names but really push your memory to do everyone in the room (my personal best is 301 names at 1 meeting)

All of these situations involve memorizing with distractions. It is one thing to memorize or study in complete silence. It is another with a little going on. To up the ante even a little more. Have someone give you a list of words and you memorize as they call of the words. Performing for others always increases the stress.

THE BEST WAY to practice memorizing under stress is to participate in the next USA Memory Championship!! Don’t do it because you think you will win! Do it for who you must become in order to participate! Do it because you want to see how your memory performs under stress.

Other ways to work on controlling stress is to:

1. Work on your reactions of getting upset when someone says something rude or cuts you off in traffic. If you can master staying calm then this is a big step in staying calm for your memory
2. If you worry a lot about your brother and his life, take time each day to visualize your brother’s life how you wish it was. This doesn’t mean you live in a fantasy world and don’t do what you can to do to help, however, it does mean you do what you do, you live in reality but to keep your mind of stressing out you visualize how it would be that would keep you from stressing

So there you have it, the worst enemy for your memory is stress! Control it and watch your performance sky rocket!