Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, stated the following: Everything happens twice – once in the mind and once in reality. The once in the mind could be called visualization. Visualization has been defined as the use of mental images to influence bodily processes and is one of 20 brain-based strategies that enables human beings to remember what they are learning.
Where does it occur in the real world? In my last blog post, I talked about the power of confidence. Visualization is an integral part of that confidence. Coaches will ask their athletes to visualize a successful performance before the game even begins. While sitting in a doctor’s office, I picked up a pamphlet that asked patients taking chemotherapy to visualize the chemotherapy medicine knocking out the cancer cells. This technique appears to increase the effectiveness of the medicine.
Here are two personal examples. First, my job requires constant travel. I cannot count the number the times I have visualized myself sitting on the second plane when I am faced with an extremely tight connection. It is amazing that 90% of the time I actually make the second flight when the odds are stacked against me. Second, I have written nine books. Before I ever typed one key on the computer, I visualized each book eventually becoming a bestseller. I currently have eight bestsellers and the ninth book is a very recent publication. Visualization works! Many people even have visualization boards depicting their future goals and dreams in hopes of accomplishing them.
Recently, I was fortunate to meet a wonderful group of educators during my workshop at a Catholic Diocese in El Paso, Texas. A teacher named Sandra related a story to me that I will not soon forget. Many years ago she was informed by her doctor that she would never be able to have a child. Not accepting that answer as definitive, she began to pray and to visualize a baby in heaven who was waiting to be born. After a while, she returned to her doctor and asked that he give her a pregnancy test. He hesitated, thinking that the procedure would simply be a waste of time. Well, you guessed it! The test revealed that she was pregnant, and she became the mother of a very healthy child.
Does visualization work in every instance? No, but even if it assists us in retaining content and accomplishing some of our dreams, it is indeed worth a try!