If I could choose just one tool that made my process of growing as a leader easy, it would be the power of visualization and mental rehearsal. It's that powerful.
The basic concept is that your brain doesn't know the difference between what's real and what's imagined when it comes to learning. It can almost just as easily learn by visualizing a situation than actually performing a task or taking action.
If that is true, to be a good public speaker for instance, wouldn't it be much easier to practice being on stage and feeling relaxed by visualizing, rather than actually being there? Good news! It absolutely is. I have used this method to visualize myself into not just overcoming my fear of public speaking, but also to train myself to stay calm in confrontational situations, when being triggered by my mom, and staying focused and on task.
I'll give you a bit of back-story about where I first came across this concept as credit is due here. In March, 2015, I did a week-long self-development seminar called the Hoffman Process. It was a retreat experience, the first that I had ever done with this kind of depth. Over the seven days of deep guided meditations, rituals, sharing, conversations, forgiveness walks, and cathartic exercises, I took away one thing: You can teach your brain new ways to react, think and feel in challenging situations through the sheer power of imagination. When you are visualizing new ways of being or acting you are already forming new neural connections. You are teaching your brain this: When A happens, do/feel/act B.
Unfortunately, it works much the same way to your disadvantage, too.
Most of us spend a huge chunk of our time rehearsing negative thoughts, plotting revenge, telling people off, telling our neighbor in our head that she is a fat jerk, and then being hard on that hateful voice and feeling guilty.
And then we wonder how we wound up so unkind to ourselves and others? So unhappy, frustrated, resentful, even depressed.
The thoughts you think matter because it's what you imagine. Every thought you have either creates a new neural pathway or strengthens a current one. What you imagine is what you rehearse, and that is most likely what will show up in real life.
If what’s showing up in your life isn’t what you want, it’s time to look at what you’re imagining and rehearsing. What new neural pathways do you need to create to change your reality?
To read more, here’s a link to my book on Amazon: Dust Off and Rise: Stumbling Toward Success https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Off-Rise-Restauranteurs-Leadership-ebook/dp/B07H9HK8MP/