Keeping Your Eye On The Prize
By Greg Jacobson
Lucky for us, we have a choice. As humans, we have the ability to focus our thoughts and imagine any scenario we want. No other animal on the planet has this amazing capability. We can visualize positive outcomes for things that have not happened. The most interesting part of this process is that the mind can’t tell if the experience is made-up or real. Either way, the body responds as though the mental images we see are actually happening. Visualization is clearly a powerful tool. Control it, and it will improve your life immediately. Out of control negative thoughts creep in and you begin to worry, living the worst possible scenarios in your mind over-and- over, and that’s not fun. Practice visualizing what you want, not what you don’t want.
The most decorated gold medal Olympian in history is Michael Phelps who has stood on top of the podium as the best the world 18 times. However, in his mind, he has been winning gold medals every day, long before he was even an Olympic contender. His coach Bob Bowman calls it “putting in the video tape.” Every night and every morning, Phelps visualizes what he intends to make a reality. He sees himself stepping onto the starting block and putting on his goggles. He sees the crowd and the other competitors, and he is ready. He visualizes himself diving into the pool with perfect form, and swimming flawlessly and effortlessly through the water, living each stroke, lap, and kick-turn. Every time, without fail, he touches the wall ahead of everyone else, tears off his goggles, looks at the timer seeing his name on top, and celebrates yet another victory.
As a consultant and executive mentor for well-known companies and high-performing individuals, visualization plays a key role. Even looking back at my history as founder of Wiseguy Tickets, the world’s largest ticket wholesaler, our team envisioned exactly what we wanted (and expected) to happen. Visualizing the future as if it is happening now, or has already happened, helps to develop neural connections in your brain. These connections make it easier to replicate actions that never actually happened because even though they were only imagined, the mind and body can’t tell the difference from an actual experience. Because your unconscious mind believes you have done it before, it believes you can do it again, this time even more easily. The more you do something, the easier it is to do again.
In 2007, researchers at Bishop’s University conducted a study. They put students into three groups. The first group went to the gym and worked out their hip flexor muscles. The second group was told to visualize working out, but not do the physical activity. The third group was a control group who was told not to do any exercises or visualizations. After two weeks the results were measured. As you may have expected, the control group who did nothing, gained no muscle strength. The ones who worked out in the gym gained 28% and the group who only visualized exercising had an incredible 24% strength gain without doing any physical activity.
This same technique of visualizing the outcome you want can be used to overcome even a paralyzing fear. My wife Rocky and I were recently in New Zealand, which happens to be the adventure capitol of the world. Well she sees a sign saying ‘Tallest Bungy In New Zealand 134 meters (440 feet)” and she decides that she must jump. I said, “Sure baby, let’s go!” Why spoil the mood, right? I know my wife, she is quick to jump in but once she’s had time to think about it for a while, her nerves could take over and turn into a ‘No Go’. By the time we arrived at the welcome center, she was trying hard not to cry, scared, trying to be courageous. I told her that I had a secret. “You will break through fear if you have a purpose. Focus on the magic that is at the end of the stretch of that rubber band. Once you reach the end, the momentum will shift. And if you are positioned right and take the right action, you can use that newly created positive energy to literally fly. I could see that she got it. Her entire physiology changed. What once was trepidation, was now confidence. I drew a line in the sand and she walked up to it. We practiced jumping together as if it were real. Once it was actually her turn to jump, she was ready, and dove off that platform without hesitation.
by Greg Jacobson: Author of the #1 international bestseller ‘Think Yourself Happy’ available on Amazon and Bookstores everywhere. Considered one of the world’s leading strategists for developing a success mindset, Greg Jacobson has taught hundreds of well-known organizations and high-performing individuals to achieve more, meet objectives faster, and become better team players. As a highly sought-after speaker, trainer, and consultant, Greg’s experience and skill sets have realized stellar results for governments, non-profits, and some of the largest companies in the world.
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World’s leading strategist for developing a success mindset and #1 international bestselling author of ‘Think Yourself Happy’.