In a television interview, singer Celine Dion was asked if she ever thought she’d sell millions of records and be on tour, singing in front of tens of thousands of people each week. The singer replied that none of this surprised her, as she had pictured the whole thing since she was five years old! She was not bragging, and she has worked unbelievably hard to earn every bit of her success. What she learned at an early age was her ability to tap into the power of holding a vivid, powerful image and to become the star that she always pictured.
World class athletes also incorporate the power of imagery to reinforce in their mind exactly how they want to perform. Whether it’s a figure skater completing a difficult jump, a tennis pro acing the perfect serve or a golfer driving the ball long and straight down the fairway, many top competitors mentally envision a successful outcome before actually achieving it in “the real world.”
Visualization, however, is not something reserved solely for singers, athletes or movie stars. In fact, it’s something you’ve used since childhood to create the circumstances of your own life. Let me clarify what I mean. Author Adelaide Bry has described visualization as “movies-of-the-mind,” “inner pictures” or “images.”
Each of us stores pictures in our minds about the type of relationships we deserve, the degree of success we’ll attain at work, the extent of our leadership ability, the amount of money we’ll earn and accumulate, and so on.
Where do these pictures come from? Well, we begin to develop our “mental movies” early in life. If we were criticized or felt unworthy as a youngster, we record the events (and the feelings associated with those events) as images in our minds. Because we frequently dwell on these pictures (both consciously and subconsciously), we tend to create life situations that correspond to the original image. For example, you may still hold a vibrant image of being criticized by a teacher in elementary school. You felt humiliated in front of the whole class. Later on, when you were tempted to offer your opinion in school or in a group of people, you held back and kept quiet all the while remembering (even if only on a subconscious level) how painful it was when you were criticized. The picture remains in your mind, and exerts tremendous influence over your present actions.
Unfortunately, many of us have not updated or revised our childhood movies, so we are continually producing results that fall short of our full potential. Here are some techniques for using the power of visualization to improve virtually every aspect of your personal and professional life:
Take responsibility for the pictures you are playing in your mind.
matter what the source of those images, it’s you that keeps playing them. Let’s try a short experiment. Think about an ice cream cone filled with your favorite flavor of ice cream. Does that create a picture or image for you? I’ll bet it does. Okay, now think about an elephant. Can you see it? Change the color of the elephant to pink. In a fraction of a second, you probably formed an image of the pink elephant. Can you bring back the picture of the ice cream cone? Of course, you can. You have full control over the pictures that occupy your mind. However, when you do not consciously decide which pictures to play, your mind will look into the “archives” and keep re-playing old movies on file in your mental library.
Accept what happened in the old movie – but change its meaning.
It doesn’t serve you to deny what happened in a past experience, no matter how painful or disappointing. You can’t, for instance, change the fact that you were criticized by the teacher. You can, however, alter your interpretation of the event. That is, at the time you were originally criticized, the meaning you might have assigned to the experience was: “I’m not good enough,” or “My opinions are worthless.” While this was the interpretation of a child, you may have inadvertently carried it into your adult life. Today, though, you can consciously choose to view the situation differently — for example, the teacher may have disagreed with you, but it wasn’t a statement about your intelligence or your overall worth as a person!
3. Create new pictures to move you toward what you want.
We can create new mental movies whenever we choose to do so. And, when we develop (and concentrate on) new images that evoke powerful feelings and sensations, we will act in ways that support those new pictures! So, the first step is to create an image of your desired outcome. You are limited only by your imagination. Recognize, however, that the pictures in your mind are not fulfilled overnight! But, by being patient and by persistently focusing on these mental images, you’ll automatically start acting in ways that support your vision.
4. Relax and involve your senses.
What’s the best method to use when concentrating on your new images? It’s been proven that your mind is most receptive to visualization when you are calm and not thinking about a lot of things simultaneously. So, sit down in a comfortable chair at home, close your eyes and do some deep breathing exercises to clear your mind and relax your body. Now, strive to develop images that involve as many senses as you can. The more sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches you put in your pictures, the more powerful the “pull” for you to make your vision a reality.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you always dreamed of owning a beach-front house in the Caribbean. Picture the white and peach colored house. See the green palm trees slowly swaying in the gentle breeze. Smell the salt air. Feel the warm sand between you toes. Can’t you just taste it? And all this can be yours, if you hold onto this image and do what it takes to achieve it!
Also, remember that those images associated with strong emotions have even more power, so be sure to add positive feelings to your vision. For instance, when visualizing your ideal job, combine the vivid mental picture and the physical senses with the terrific emotions of pride and satisfaction you’ll have working in that new position.
Finally, don’t be concerned with the quality of your images at the outset. Some people can create lively color pictures. . . while others have trouble getting anything more than a fuzzy image, or no image at all. It’s also possible that you may only be able to get a particular feeling at the beginning as opposed to a clear image.
In any case, don’t worry about it. Do the best you can and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Your images will become sharper over time. The key is to spend several minutes each day running these new movies in your mind.
Well, there you have it–some suggestions for creating and benefiting from your own mental pictures. Remember, if you don’t take control and develop your own movies, you’ll continue to replay the old ones. If the old movies are serving you, that’s great. But, if they’re holding you back in any way, get started today and use the incredible power of your mind to picture your way to greater success!
The Key to Your Security.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the lack of security in the workplace, especially in corporate America. Events such as downsizing, re-structuring, mergers and acquisitions have many workers wondering whether the job they have today will be there tomorrow. This uncertainty has, in some places, resulted in a loss of morale and an unwillingness for some employees to give their best. After all, they think, “If I could be gone soon or have my job radically changed, why give 100% to this organization?”
But, while it’s true that the days of working for a company for 30 years, getting a gold watch and a secure retirement package are long gone, the person who suffers most when you don’t give your best is YOU!
Why? To begin with, excellence is a habit that cannot be turned on and off like a faucet. We are creatures of habit and either we have a commitment to do the best job we can. . . or we condition ourselves to put forth less than our best efforts. Whichever approach we take, it will not be easy to change. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can withhold your talents and enthusiasm today, then give your all tomorrow.
To illustrate, consider one of your daily habits–how neat you keep your bedroom. If you’re the type that throws shirts and pants on top of a chair (or on the floor), how difficult would it be for you to change that habit and fold all of your clothes and neatly put them away in a closet or drawer? I’ll bet that you’d find the new pattern almost impossible to follow. Within a day or two, you’d probably take your socks and throw them on the chair, just as you did before! The same is true of the way you approach your work. You either make the commitment to do an excellent job, or you develop a pattern of doing just enough to get by.
That’s why, if you’re looking for security in a job, you’re looking in the wrong place. There is no security in any job. The security lies within you. The key to developing your security is by becoming excellent at what you do, and by continuing to improve your skills. Add to that a very positive attitude and an ability to work well with others, and, voila, you have job security!
Now, I didn’t say that you are guaranteed to work for the same company for the rest of your life, or even that you will remain in your current position. But, by always giving your very best, you’ll assure yourself of having a decisive edge in any future situation. Think about it. If your company was acquired by another, which employees would have the best chance of sticking around–those who enthusiastically gave their best, or those who dragged their feet, complained, and had little interest in learning new skills?
And, even if the excellent performer does not get a position in the new company, that person, because of his or her commitment to excellence and positive attitude is going to have an advantage in the marketplace when securing a new position.
When you put forth 100% effort, people notice. You may not be rewarded immediately but you are building a reputation that will serve you well in your current organization, and in any other place you may work In the future.
The bottom line is this: giving less than your best effort in your current position can only hurt you.
So, if you want to obtain real security, ask yourself these questions: Do I enthusiastically give my very best at work every day? Do I cooperate with others and support their efforts? Do I maintain a positive attitude? Am I learning to be better at what I do and am I developing the skills that will be important in my field in the future?
Answer these questions and re-evaluate yourself on a regular basis. When you can finally reply with a resounding, “YES!,” you’ll have the type of job security that no one can ever take away from you.
Jeff Keller is a motivational speaker and writer who founded Attitude is Everything, Inc. Visit Jeff’s website at http://www.attitudeiseverything.com . He’d love to have you visit!