For many years, people have said that if you visualize success it will eventually come true. This principle has been followed in athletics, business, and education to name a few. It is commonly applied to wealth where people believe that if you visualize yourself rich, you will eventually become rich (e.g. Think and Grow Rich, The Science of Getting Rich).
The Wall Street Journal published an article called Can You Get Rich by Visualizing Yourself Rich? by Robert Frank. Robert Frank dug into the idea of visualization and what it means to visualize success. Robert included a story about Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of Spanx, because she is a strong proponent of visualization.
Sara said, “I believe you can take mental snapshots of your future and visualize success for yourself. If you mentally see yourself in a scenario, you’ll start to make decisions in your life that get you there.” Robert also explained that there are many critics that say visualization is just a flight from realism. What do you think? Does visualization really lead to success?
Does it Work to Visualize Success?
Many people and organizations have visions and vision statements. They use those visions to guide their employees to success. Visualization is similar to having a vision or vision statement, but it goes a little deeper. So let’s take a look at visualization.
What is Visualization?
Have you ever imagined in your mind how a situation will go before it happened? You probably thought about how the scenario would play out, comments people would make, and the room or environment in which it would happen?
If you have ever done this, you have visualized the situation. When people visualize success, they run through scenarios in their mind where they are successful over and over again before the situation actually happens.
People do visualization in a number of ways. Here’s just a few:
- Visualize what you want and then write it down 15 times a day
- Sit in a quiet location and run through a situation in your mind several times before it actually happens
- Just before you are about to go on stage, in front of your boss, etc. take a quick moment to imagine yourself being successful
It is probably clear from the examples that the main ingredient to visualize success is to imagine the scenario in your mind before it actually happens.
Does it Work?
Alejandro Reyes gave a great example of visualization in his article, “Does Visualization Really Work? Here’s Evidence That It Does”. He gave the following example:
Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson made a little experiment. He took a group of basketball players, divided them in 3 groups and tested each player’s ability to make free throws.
- The first group would practice 20 minutes every day.
- The second would only visualize themselves making free throws, but no real practice was allowed.
- The third one would not practice or visualize.
The results were astounding. There was significant improvement on the group that only visualized; they were almost as good as they guys who actually practiced.
I like that example a lot because it clearly shows that visualization made the players shoot better compared to doing nothing. They did better, however, when they actually practiced. For visualization to work best, it must be paired with practice, preparation, and hard work. When the three are paired together, great things can happen!
What Should You Visualize?
As you visualize success, you are moved to take action which leads to actual success. Before you can effectively visualize success, however, you must first have a vision. The vision gives hope and something to work towards. The vision gives people an image of a brighter future and causes everyone to stretch.
So what should your vision include? Leaders should have a vision that includes each of the following three points.
Have a Vision of Your Success
There is a saying that, “If you imagine something, you will begin to think about how to make it happen. If you think about how to make it happen, you will figure out what to do to make it happen. When you think about what to do to make it happen long enough, you will eventually do it.”
Identify what your ideal future looks like and create a vision. Susan M. Heathfield explained the importance of a personal vision statement by saying, “Your personal vision statement guides your life and provides the direction necessary to chart the course of your days and the choices you make about your career. Think of your personal vision statement as the light shining in the darkness that illuminates your life path.”
She went on to further explain, “Write a vision statement as the first step in focusing your life. It can help put things into perspective—your joy, your accomplishments, your contribution to the world, your glory, and your legacy.”
All actions start out as thoughts in your head. By visualizing success, you allow yourself to think bigger. The more you visualize success, the more you act as though you are successful. You gradually gain more confidence in yourself and your abilities which causes you to perform better.
Once you have created your vision, you can put it into action with a personal development plan.
Have a Vision of Your Followers’ Success
Have you ever had a leader that didn’t believe in you or even expected you to fail and treated you accordingly? In that situation, it was probably hard to be successful because you didn’t have someone who believed in you. On the other hand, have you had a leader that was completely confident in you; one that completely believed in you, your abilities, and your judgement? Those types of leaders help to bolster your confidence immensely!
In addition to visualizing your own success, visualize the success of those you lead. As you visualize their success, think of what you can do to help them to be successful. Visualize actions you can take to help those you lead and write a vision statement that identifies how you will help them. That vision will help you see their potential and work to help them reach it.
Have a Vision of the Organization’s Success
Regardless of your role, you have the ability to have a big influence on your organization. As you rub shoulders with others, they will be positively or negatively affected. The goal should be to leave a positive mark. So how can you do that? Have a vision for your organizations success!
When you have a vision for the organization, it will rub off on others until they catch the vision as well. It will also help you to be motivated to see that vision turn into a reality. Your motivation can also contagious and spread to those around you.
Your vision for yourself, those you lead, and your organization will have a major impact on your motivation and the effort you put into your job. Then actively visualize success and do everything you can to make it a reality. As you visualize success and work hard, you’re much more likely to be successful.
Questions to the Reader!
Has visualization worked for you? How do you visualize success for yourself, your followers, and your organization? How do you create a vision for others? Do you think having a vision is helpful or do you believe it is just an escape from reality? Please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below!