How’s the grind feeling for you this week? Is it exciting and life-giving? Or is it feeling more overwhelming and stressful?
In the midst of the busyness and endless to-do’s of the workweek, and it can be easy to lose track of what is actually the ultimate goal that we’re striving towards.
This is where the importance of vision comes in.
Vision is a popular business buzzword in Silicon Valley and around the country.
Whether you’re interviewing for a new job to advance your career, or you’re raising millions of dollars for your startup, the person on the other side of the table is going to ask you about your 5 year or 10 year vision.
But vision and its practice, visualization, is not just for a pitch or an interview, it’s something with great power we can leverage in daily life.
What exactly is vision? How can it be developed? Why is it important?
Seeing the Endgame
We typically think of vision only in terms of grand 10-year business schemes or long term life goals, but the reality is that vision is a fundamental component of daily life.
By understanding the role vision plays in life, we can leverage that insight to more successfully conquer the larger, long-term benchmarks we desire to achieve with confidence and sustained enthusiasm.
I was recently speaking with a friend, Matt, who’s the CEO of a media company in Los Angeles. Outside of entrepreneurship, Matt’s passion is the martial art Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Recently, he was sparring with an adversary who was larger and more experienced than he. On paper, this opponent should have defeated him easily.
However, Matt had other ideas. As the sparring started, Matt looked intensely for weakness in his opponent’s structure and for possible areas where he was off balance. At a certain point, Matt literally had a vision of the sequence of steps he could take to maneuver the adversary into a rear-naked chokehold. That vision gave him the belief, calmness, and clarity to act decisively, and a minute later he had his opponent pinned and tapping the mat in submission.
You see, if we have a vision of success, it makes us more likely to succeed in actuality. With a foundational belief in success, we’re more likely to perceive the deliberate, intentional steps needed to reach our goal, and thus we will act with courage, ingenuity, and decisiveness.
If we practice visualization consistently, our mind begins to expect the things we visualize to come true.
And they do.
This may appear woo-woo to you, but it’s absolutely true. Why?
Esoteric Tools of Peak Performance
Top performers such as Muhammed Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Phelps, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Drake, Lady Gaga, and thousands of others all credit visualization at a major contributor to their success.
Scientific studies have even shown that people who visualize muscle training without actually exercising can yield similar gains to people who do physical training. However, the biggest gains go to those who do BOTH training and visualization.
Visualization is also a major component of the yoga practice I learned in India, and I credit visualization immensely in the profound physical transformation I have undergone.
So what are the mechanics of visualization and why does it work so well?
Your Body Only Knows the Present Tense
In our life as human beings, we clearly seem to experience the past, present, and future. We have memories of the past, experiences of the present, and ideas about the future.
But are we really able to experience the past and future?
The answer is no.
While we may remember the past, we are, in fact, replaying those memories while sitting here in this present moment. While we may imagine the future, again we’re projecting those visions while sitting here in the present moment. The only time we can ever truly experience is the present moment itself.
This is important to understand because our brain, body, and subconscious mind do not understand our ideas about the past and future, they only understand the information they receive in the present moment.
That is, if you vividly imagine a scene from your past, chemically your brain responds as if that event is actually happening in the present.
Alternatively, if you vividly imagine a scenario in the future, again the brain, body and subconscious mind react as if that event is happening now in the present.
Have you had this experience?
Let’s say you send someone a text about meeting up, or you send a client a proposal. You’re anticipating a quick response, but there’s no reply. Minutes and hours pass by, and your mind starts imagining all sorts of ghastly scenarios.
Maybe this person doesn’t like me? Maybe they’re unhappy with me about something? Maybe something terrible has happened to them?
Based on nothing more than hallucinations in our mind, our veins begin to course with fear and our body tenses up.
Finally, the person responds to us. They were at the gym, or their phone died, or they were on an airplane.
We feel relieved.
But how much unnecessary suffering did we create within ourselves?
Unfortunately, this compulsive form of visualization is the only form that most of our society knows how to do. All fear and anxiety essentially come down to a negative anticipation about future events. The truly traumatic events in life are generally few and far between, but how much suffering are we creating on a daily basis within ourselves?
In the very least, how much does this negative type of visualization debilitate our performance?
Because, if we visualize defeat, humiliation, or tragedy, then our subconscious mind and physiology respond as if that scenario is actually happening, and so our internal state becomes weak and dejected.
If we visualize success, joy, and abundant opportunity, then our mind and physiology also respond as if it’s actually happening already. We smile, we assume a confident posture, and we explore playfully as we anticipate the randomness of life to pan out in our favor.
Inception: Creating Memories
With visualization, we’re consciously and deliberately creating new memories. That is, we’re offering our subconscious mind a visceral experience of the result we seek to achieve. The subconscious is unable to distinguish that this is only imagination rather than a real event, so the memory gets stored in the mind the same way any other memory would.
By building these memories of success, we become increasingly motivated, clear, and courageous in our work as our belief becomes more deeply encoded. Why? Because the subconscious mind begins to believe the success has already happened, and then acts accordingly with a higher dimension of confidence, ingenuity, and drive. We only work hard if we truly believe what we aim for is possible.
A Powerful Process for Transformation
If you’re feeling adventurous in your visualization endeavors I invite you to continue exploring…
In India, I was introduced to a dynamic form of meditation knowns as Chit Shakti. Chit means mind and Shakti means energy. Chit Shakti meditation is a potent process of intense visualization and conscious breathing to create what you desire clearly and precisely in the mind.
In fact, many yogis and mystics of the East even claim that visualization is a key component of creating events that we would generally categorize as a “miracles” such as manifesting a gold watch from thin air or performing healings on the sick.
I can’t say whether such extraordinary claims or true or untrue, but perhaps these fantastic tales can inspire us to consider the true power of the single-pointed mind.
This meditation may feel a bit mystical to you if you’ve never tried a meditation like this before. From my own experience, I can say it is a very powerful process. Be mindful of what you visualize:)
This process takes about 20 minutes. Sit comfortably with arms and legs uncrossed, back supported, and palms facing upwards. I highly recommended doing this in your own room or in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
So have some fun in your routine and experiment with this dynamic meditation!
By Alex Blanton