This article discusses not only the power, but the absolute necessity of employing your gift of imagination to achieve success.
Our community baseball team made it to the finals this year as the top team, and the finals are best of three.
In the first game we got crushed. The first inning was almost comical, but the majority of our team didn’t find it very funny. In fact with that one inning we went from the posturing of a top team to that of a defeated back-lot bunch.
Entering our second game, we tried to get our momentum back, but you could see in the faces of our team members that we did not believe we could prevail.
Needless to say, though we played a stronger game the second time, we lost that game too and the championship. I could say that they defeated us, but the truth is that we defeated ourselves.
Why am I telling you about my baseball game?
For me, I treat much of my life as a learning lab. I get curious how I act and how others act in any given situation. Because I didn’t take the game personally (I like to have fun), I was able to step outside myself and see how I was reacting.
I have discovered if I visualized how I would look and think if I was a top player, I could actually perform closer to that level. I tried it in this particular game and hit a nice double.
But what I found more interesting (and the focus of this post) was how others perceived themselves.
During the game I suggested to one of our top hitters — who wasn’t hitting very well — to visualize what he would look like performing at his best. I did this with the hope that it would get him into the ZONE. He replied that he was NOT a visualizer, that he had had a trainer try that with him before, and that he just didn’t have the capability to visualize.
What was interesting was that a few minutes later he was talking about something from the past and you could see how his whole persona changed. He was smiling, his eyes had a sparkle, and he was standing taller. He didn’t even realize that he was visualizing.
Unfortunately when he got up to bat he was not seeing himself at his best. He struck out and the game was over.
Intention and Visualization
Before you can take an action, it must first start as an intention in your mind. Even when you do something unconsciously your mind is still actively initiating this process.
What is interesting to note is that our minds work in images not in text. If I say the word “Airplane” your mind does not start typing A, i, r, p, l, a, n, e. Instead you suddenly think of an airplane that is familiar to you. That’s why, if you read any book on memory techniques the focus is almost always on visualization.
With that understanding you can begin to move past the statement, I am not good at visualizing things. The very fact that you’re reading this post right now, demonstrates that you have the capability to visualize. If you couldn’t visualize, then all that you would see is incoherent rows of letters.
Realizing that all your actions are preceded by your mind seeing the required process, what do you need to do in order to improve your likelihood of success? Exactly. Create the right visualization..
You may be thinking, “What if what I’m visualizing can’t be done?”
Let me relate the story of Roger Bannister.
History and science indicated that it was impossible for a human body to run a mile in under four minutes. Roger Bannister understood that he could not physically push his body past its limitations, but he believed that his mind could surpass them. Bannister spent much time visualizing himself break past the four-minute barrier. Eventually the image became so embedded in his mind that when the time came to race, his mind took his body into the reality that it perceived.
Spend time reflecting on the many inventions of the past 50 years. 200 years ago these were just fantasies in peoples minds. All that we imagine has become or is on its way to becoming reality.
So, you may want to invent a new type of energy to power our cities, to greatly improve your business, or to weaken a bad habit.
How can you implement visualization to help you do this?
One of the processes I use to help my clients is an exercise I call reflecting forward.
I ask the client to follow these six steps:
1. Be clear on your intention – What is it that you want to accomplish? What will its accomplishment do for you?
2. Decide how long would you would like this to take – Be realistic. How long do you think it should take you to work towards your objective?
3. Close your eyes and visualize yourself at that point in the future, having achieved your desired goal – You might vividly see this in your mind’s eye or it might be just an awareness. Visualization does not require seeing in detail.
4. Interview your future self – Ask your future self the steps that he took to achieve the desired goal. What where the hurdles? What were the lessons learned? What would he do if he could do it over again?
5. Return to the present and create an action plan – You have the insight of visualization; now create a concrete plan around it.
6. Take immediate action – To breath life into your endeavor, make sure you take action within the following 24 hours. Otherwise it will end up becoming a mere dream.
Remember that in order to create success, you have to be able to visualize it. You need to trust that you have the talents and abilities to accomplish your desired goal.
To paraphrase Dr. David Schwartz in his book, The Magic Of Thinking Big:
If you can perceive and believe, you can achieve.