As a professional speaker who travels the globe talking about memory and teaching people how to improve it, the greatest challenge I have are their self-limiting beliefs. People have competitions to tell me how bad their memories are.
This is what is known as a chimp comment in my line of work.
What on Earth is a chimp comment?
You may have heard of or even read a wonderful book called The Chimp Paradox. It is written by Professor Steve Peters, a lecturer in psychiatry. Peters has gone on to work with British Cycling, Ronnie O’Sullivan and top level football teams to great success.
The Chimp Paradox is a brilliantly simple metaphor. We have a logical brain that works on information and we have a chimp brain that works on emotion. The challenge is that the chimp brain is seven times more powerful than the logical brain.
This is why we do the things we know we shouldn’t like drink too much, overeat and have affairs. Okay, just me. We get home after a hard day’s work and our chimp brain says that we ‘deserve’ that glass of wine and food despite our logical brain saying that it is bad for us.
Our chimp brain is why we also don’t do the things we know we should like exercise. It comes up with reasons to let us off the hook like ‘I don’t have time.’
Chimp comments don’t use statistics, surveys or research. They are irrational, emotional statements. On occasions they can be amusing and fun but they often belie a serious underlying self-limiting belief.
This is definitely true when it comes to my line of work of memory improvement. This is a typical conversation for me:
Person: I have the worst memory in the world.
Me: 7 billion people on the planet and yours is the worst?!
Me: WOW! That is not bad, that is a tragedy of epic proportions.
I like to take every available chance to be sarcastic even though it is usually wasted. But the serious point is that almost everyone I meet who knows I do memory improvement tells me where their memory fails and how bad it is.
But if all those people thought it through for a minute or two, they would realise that actually, their memories are pretty stunning. For example, if they had to recite everything they could remember, how long would that take?
If they looked at how much they have to remember on a daily basis to do their jobs and function in a huge number of areas, it would be immense.
We know we have brilliant memories but on the odd occasion when it fails, we start panicking.
But why is this a problem? Because the moment we question our memories we start limiting our options. For me, when I was a firefighter, I kept failing my exams because I couldn’t remember the information to pass. I assumed I had a bad memory so I stopped sitting the exams. Nobody told me that if I bought a book on memory improvement, I could learn some cool techniques that would instantly and dramatically improve my memory ability.
As it happens, 25 years ago, after I failed the Fire Service exams three times, I did buy a book on memory improvement. I practiced the techniques, found I was really good at them and inside 8 months entered and came 4th in the World Memory Championships. That immediately recalibrated what I thought about my memory and its possibilities.
The memory book helped me overcome my chimp before I even knew what that meant and The Chimp Paradox book helped me understand why the memory book worked.
Buy The Chimp Paradox to understand your self-limiting beliefs and how they are holding you back and buy a memory improvement book to shock yourself at your own astonishing memory capability.
Author: David Thomas