How To Leverage Your Imagination To Get What You Want
I want to share a powerful coaching technique that you can use on your own. This is so effective that top athletes use it, powerful business leaders use it and well-known public speakers use it. It is visioning.
Visioning requires that you use your mind -- train your mind, really -- to imagine an outcome that is within your control to influence. This could be a meeting with your boss, a difficult conversation with your partner, or a performance or speech you will be giving. At a higher level, this would be any goal that you set yourself. The key is to know what your goal or desired outcome looks like.
Visioning is a proven technique of many world-class athletes including Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, and Olympic Skier, Lyndsay Vonn, who was quoted in a Forbes article saying, “I always visualize the run before I do it. By the time I get to the start gate, I've run that race 100 times already in my head, picturing how I'll take the turns.”
According to assistant professor of kinesiology and sport science at the University of Utah, Nicole Detling, Ph.D., "When you imagine yourself performing a task, your muscles contract as though you're actually doing it. The contractions are so small, you can't feel them, but it's enough to strengthen your muscle memory."
In fact, in a study at Cleveland Clinic, exercise physiologist, Guang Yue
found that people in his study that imagined lifting weights for a few weeks, actually increased their muscle mass 13.5%!
As powerful as that is, visioning can be applied to a lot more than sports performance. “Your brain responds to visualization the same way your muscles do, says Philip Post, Ph.D., the assistant professor of motor learning and sport psychology at New Mexico State University. "When you imagine yourself reacting a certain way to a certain event—like being calm and in control while giving a speech at a wedding—it strengthens the neuro- logical pathways you need to actually respond that way."
So how might you apply visioning? Let’s say you are preparing to give an important presentation. Take some time to imagine yourself giving the most perfect version of this presentation: sit some place quiet, close your eyes and relax. Now, imagine yourself presenting in front of your audience. Who is there? What are they wearing? What expressions are on their faces? What is their body language? Look at the room: what does it look like? How is the lighting? What does it smell like? Finally, give your presentation. What are you wearing? What are you saying? How are you saying it? How does your audience react?
See your scenario in as vivid detail as you can. And repeat this exercise as often as you feel necessary. If you do it in your mind enough times, it will be like second nature when you actually present. You will feel confident as if you already know how it will go and what the outcome will be — because you do.
Visioning is helpful for big goals and small, for when want to accomplish something but aren’t sure how you will do it or for that Olympic-sized hurdle you want to jump. Give it a try. Go for gold!
For Olympians, seeing (in their minds) is believing (it can happen), Rick Maese, Washington Post, July 28, 2016.
Creative Visualization: A Tool For Business Success, Diann Daniel, CIO, August 21, 2007.