Serena Williams has won over 20 Grand Slam singles, multiple Olympic gold medals, and a series of double titles with her sister Venus. Serena is one of only six women to complete a career Grand Slam: holding all four of the major tennis tournament titles simultaneously. To what does she attribute her success and longevity? You may be surprised to learn that visualization, not physical skill, strength, or endurance, is the key to her success. According to Serena Williams:
“Mental fitness is much more important to my game. To be at this level, everyone has great physical tools. What separates winners is the mental game.”
Serena Williams uses visualization to rise to the top of her industry and stay there. Tapping into the power of visualization can help you achieve extraordinary success in your life and career as well. Click & Tweet!
As the above video clip illustrates, Serena’s father taught her and her sister the technique of visualization in order to “prepare us for greatness.” Regardless of whether your chosen activity is athletic performance, public speaking, or creative production, visualization can distinguish you among the top performers in your field. While learning the basic nuts and bolts of your industry is critical to creating a successful career, learning the technique of visualization is critical to creating an extraordinary career. Here I explain how visualization can contribute to your success as well as provide you with simple guidelines to effectively use this powerful technique in your life.
How can visualization help me?
Visualization is defined as “a technique involving focusing on positive mental images in order to achieve a particular goal”. This technique can be applied to virtually any goal that involves human performance. Visualization is valuable because it improves your physiological performance, enhances your motivation, and increases your confidence. Click & Tweet! Taken together these alterations in your mind and body take your performance from great to extraordinary.
Visualization strengthens existing neurological pathways as well as creates new ones. Through visualization we “rewire” our physical bodies. In 2007, the North American Journal of Psychology published a study reporting that athletes accomplished almost comparable gains in strength through mental exercises (visualizations) as those who actually did the exercises on weight machines. If visualization is this powerful alone, imagine how it can improve your performance when combined with physical practice.
In addition to enhancing your physiology, visualization improves your psychology as well. Through visualization, you come to see yourself, literally and figuratively, as a peak performer. The psychological research on the self-fulfilling prophecy documents that people perform at levels consistent with their expectations of themselves. Visualization raises your self-perception and thus your performance as well.
How Do I Practice Visualization?
Now that you know the power of visualization, here are some practical guidelines to help you effectively use this technique in preparing yourself for greatness.
Using all five senses, repeatedly imagine yourself performing the task with the desired result.
The more senses you engage in your visualization, the more powerful the physical and psychological changes produced within you. Rather than simply “seeing” yourself performing the desired activity, ask yourself questions about what you hear, taste, smell, and feel as well. As I visualize myself giving a dynamic and wildly successful speech, I can hear the cadence and rhythm of my voice changing throughout the talk. I also hear the sounds of the audience laughing and clapping at the appropriate times in the speech. I feel the warmth of the spotlight on my skin and the stability of the podium under my arms as I lean in closer to connect with my audience. I can even smell the scent of my perfume lingering in the air as I walk to different parts of the stage.
Life is a full-sensory experience and so is a powerful visualization. The more we engage all of our senses in each visualization, the more we respond physically and psychologically as if this mental image is “real”.
Imagine yourself as the “hero” in the story, not the outside observer.
Part of the effect of engaging multiple senses in our visualization is that it moves us from watching the action to experiencing it. Effective visualization requires that we experience these events from the first person perspective as the “hero” of the show. Visualization requires that we are active creators of the outcome, not passive viewers. As I visualize myself making an awesome jump shot, I see the ball through my perspective as the shooter not the wide angle lens of the audience. Visualization is a powerful technique because it blurs the line between our imagination and reality. The more vividly we see from our perspective as the doer, the more concretely we understand ourselves as one who is capable of creating this desired outcome.
Practice visualizing often.
Everything requires practice, even visualization. The more you incorporate this activity into your daily preparation, the more easily and vividly you will be able to visualize yourself performing at your peak level. The more vivid the visualization, the better your performance. Click & Tweet!
I encourage you to develop your mental fitness through visualization. Visualization is a skill that can be used in every area of your life because it can easily be generalized from one set of behaviors to another. Visualization works as successfully in enhancing your physical fitness as it does your work productivity Click & Tweet! . Please share below ways in which you have (or intend to) use visualization to enhance your performance. Unlock your greatness!