Can you visualize success as a way to improve your performance in life?
Research now says yes. And, the success runs deeper than you might think.
Interestingly, the more I review the literature, the more I find examples of decades old NLP techniques being validated by scientific research. Interestingly, NLP rarely, if ever, gets the mention!
The latest is a play on the NLP New Behavior Generator, a very effective visualization method that dates back to the early 1980’s. A recent study just validated core elements of this simple process.
First, a quick mention of the research findings, then I’ll give a couple of quick tips that you can try out on your own.
Psychological researcher and scientist Geoffrey Woodman at Vanderbuilt University had this to say about imagining high performance:
The idea that we can train our brains to work better is all the rage across society, but our research suggests that the human brain may benefit as much, or even more, from imagining performing a task, than the brain does from practicing a task over and over.
Did you get that?
The brain is trained through visualization as much as or more than actual practice in the real world. So, you should be able to improve your free throw shot as much by imagining successful execution as you can by actually standing there shooting the ball into the hoop. Of course, visualization is not a substitute for physical practice. Let’s not be ridiculous.
The operative word is performance. This isn’t some technique where you imagine a pot of gold and then it magically appears on your doorstep. Sorry.
Imagination is as powerful as physical practice? This may be why top athletes and professional sports teams swear by it.
Until now, people have thought that imagining performing a task improved how efficiently people could decide how to respond to objects, or how well those motor responses were executed. To our knowledge, this study is the first demonstration that imagery actually changes how information is processed early on in the visual system.
This may be the heart of the matter. Imagining doing something well can have a positive effect on how you perceive the real world, leading to improved performance.
…if you follow them. Which areas of performance do you want to improve? Here are some suggestions.
• Performing well during a presentation.
• Speaking calmly to your teenager.
• Expressing your feelings maturely to your romantic partner.
• Improving your golf swing, basketball shot, swim stroke, tennis serve, baseball pitch, martial arts game or any other sports performance.
• Making an improved sales pitch.
• As the research above suggests, you can even improve performance on mental or perceptive tasks, like noticing specific errors while editing an article or catching discolored apples on a conveyor belt.
• On and on! You can up your game by following the three simple steps below.
This is a short-cut version of our NLP New Behavior Generator. Try it!
1. Identify a task that you’d like to perform better. It could be anything that involves doing or perceiving something in the real world.
2. Now, imagine yourself from a comfortable distance doing the task perfectly. See it in every detail. Play your performance like a movie in your mind’s eye. Review it several times, editing the movie until it’s just right.
3. Finally, step into the movie and play it again. This time, you aren’t seeing yourself in the movie. You are inside the movie seeing your immediate (imagined) environment.
If you can, do the task soon after your New Behavior Generator. Did you notice an improvement in your performance? If so, join the tens of thousands successful NLP’ers who’ve been using cool visualization techniques like these for a long, long time.
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