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The Power of Visualization

You’ve likely heard about athletes visualizing success prior to competition – and perhaps you’ve done this yourself. You visualize the scenario, step-by-step, and mentally prepare yourself for a successful outcome. Billy Jean King talked about the power of visualization in helping her prepare for a tennis match. Olympic athlete, Emily Cook, of the United States freestyle ski team, visualizes each aerial jump as part of her training. Even Connor McGregor the world-famous MMA fighter, swears by visualization. As an ultra-marathoner and an iron-distance triathlete I’ve used this technique. I’ve visualized digging deep during the late part of a race (when you know everything is going to hurt and all you’ll want to do is quit) and finding the energy to cross that finish line.

Difficult Conversation SLR Leadership, Visualization SLR Leadership

While it’s common practice for athletes to visualize successful outcomes when preparing for competition, you might be wondering how you can use this practice to up your game as a leader? Same concept, but with a twist - it’s about preparing for a difficult conversation or presentation. Perhaps you need to provide critical feedback to someone, want to ask for a raise, or you need to give a big presentation.

Whatever the case, whenever you have a high-stress situation looming, try taking a few moments to visualize your way through the scenario.

There are many benefits to the practice of visualizing outcomes – from the advantage of mental rehearsal to the boost of confidence you receive. Some research even suggests that our brains can’t distinguish between a mentally rehearsed event and a real experience. Clearly visualization and mental rehearsal are powerful tools.

Visualization is most effective if you close your eyes and really embrace the practice of guided imagery.

  • The first step is to visualize the person or persons that you will be speaking with. Bring their image into your mind’s eye. Or, if you need to give a presentation, picture the audience.

  • Picture the room you’ll be in and envision yourself speaking.

  • Picture yourself feeling calm, confident, and empowered.

  • You have distinct clarity on what to say and feel confident in your words, and the people you are speaking to are receptive.

  • Continue to visualize yourself in this space for a few moments, feeling confident and at ease.

  • Now picture the conversation or presentation coming to a close.

  • Visualize yourself feeling satisfied with how well the conversation went and visualize everyone in the room feeling satisfied and at ease.

  • Once you feel that you have concluded the visualization gently open your eyes.

Visualization SLR Leadership
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Use this visualization technique any time you need a confidence boost heading into a conversation or presentation. A few moments of mindfulness and mental preparation can go a long way to promoting your success!


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