You’re walking into a room.
You have no idea who is in the room, or why you are walking in there.
You make out a range of figures standing, sitting and lounging around.
You get into the centre of the room.
There’s definitely more people in here than you expected.
Everyone turns and looks to you – it’s up to you to say or do something.
How does that make you feel?
There’s a reason most of us would react like the Candy Man.
In that situation we are pretty much completely out of control.
The purpose and reason for us being in the room is unknown, we are uncertain of ways to connect to the audience, we don’t know what they are expecting of us, and we have a feeling of responsibility, but don’t know why.
Pretty much every thing about that situation sucks.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had a situation that bad before.
The closest thing I can think of is during one of my earlier years in my teaching career, when I managed to call a parent by a completely wrong name, while missing my chair as I went to sit down.
Did I mention this was at the beginning of a parent information night?
(Also, Gary does not sound like Adam)
Now, think back to that original, uncontrollable situation.
What if you could not only know what you are doing, why you are there, what you are going to say, but also nearly every way the crowd may react and interact with you.
Things are suddenly looking up.
Welcome to visualising*.
My first ever experience with visualisation occurred around 21 years ago.
Visualisation isn’t a new concept. Athletes and coaches have been incorporating it into practise and preparation for over thirty years. Visualising is what you would expect from its name: an activity or process that allows us to mentally visualise and evoke the physical characteristics of any object, person or place.
You can bring a person, object or experience to life in your brain.
That’s pretty incredible that our brain can actually create a movie within your head that is not only crystal clear and colourful, but also enhanced with sound, feelings and textures.
It gets better than that.
A study in 2004 that focused on the brain patterns of weightlifters discovered that the brain patterns activated while a weightlifter physically lifted hundreds of pounds were also activated while they simply imagined lifting.
Read that again because that’s insane.
I don’t know about you, but when reading that (and then getting sucked down the resulting black hole that is the internet) I couldn’t help by ask:
How can we use visualising to help us, right now?!
Identify that goal you want to achieve and then begin to picture yourself right after you’ve achieved this. Me, I’m picturing myself landing, just after slamming down the greatest dunk of my life.
(Head to our post from last week about goal setting to get you fully set up for this)
Create a rich mental image of this goal as if it were occurring to you right at this moment.
It’s important that you can really picture and imagine this scene. If your goal is to deliver the best possible presentation to your board, picture the meeting room this takes place in.
It’s the details that count, the more specific we are the more we activate the right parts of our brain, so make sure you do this at a time that allows for you to be fully focused and engaged. First thing in the morning, or last thing at night can work best (depending on your body).
Now, get as many of your five senses involved as you can.
Like my Mum always says, the more the merrier.
Imagine that table in the meeting room. Run your hand over the smooth edges. See those high-backed, black leather chairs. Even that squeaky one in the corner Graham always chooses to rock in every meeting.
You’ve got this.
Now we start to bring in the feelings you might feel after achieving your goal.
Elation, pride, joy.
All of the above?
Maybe this is how a person like Usain Bolt appears so relaxed, positive and focused just before a race?
He’s already reliving those moments of achieving everything he has worked towards and now just needs to go through the physical motions**.
Repeat this whenever possible – now that you know what it will feel, look and be like achieving your goal, motivation levels are high. You’re committed and engaged in taking action.
What you can also do now is begin to undertake a similar process for the lead up to completing your goal. I’m picturing slowly bouncing that basketball against the ground. Slowly bounding towards the ring and swinging my arms to get momentum and assist my jump. The air clearing out of my way to the ring.
Visualise and run through the lead up to achieving your goal.
If you know what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you will do it, you can play around with an infinite amount of details in your visualisations.
Before you have even begun to utter your first words to your board you could have predicted a wide range of delivery methods, certain tones of voice at key points, prepared for someone coming in late, or simply focused on making eye contact with specific board members.
Remember, you’ve already achieved this, you’ve just got to go through the physical motions now.
See exactly what you need to do.
Now, go do it.
Got a plan and goal you’re working on right now? Let us know what it is in our comments section below! We’d love to hear ideas on ways you are focusing on visualising and achieving that goal!
If you think this upgrade was worthwhile, please be a lovely 21st century citizen and share it out into the big digital world out there. If not, that’s cool, but please let us know what we could do to keep upgrading!
*Visualising, or visualisation, also goes by the term of “Imagery” – which makes sense when you consider we use imagery within writing as a way to make readers get a complete, sensory experience…bloody writers with their cheeky tricks.
**Yes, that final part of the sentence was written in jest, I completely understand competing in a final athletic race isn’t simply “going through the physical motions”. Though, muscle memory is a thing, so maybe they are? Either way, those runners are fast and incredible.
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Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training (New York Times)
Ranganathan VK, Siemionow V, Liu JZ, Sahgal V, Yue GH – “From mental power to muscle power:gaining strength by using the mind”
Todd Sampson using visualising (and other training) to do ridiculous things
Mary Quinton – The PETTLEP Model to Visualisation
Jennifer Cumming, Craig Hall, Chris Shambrook –The Influence of an Imagery Workshop on Athletes’ Use of Imagery