Stephen Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” stated that the main difference between animals and humans is self-awareness and the ability to choose how we respond to any stimulus. You have probably, as well as I, have heard already about visualizing, and picturing yourself achieving success. Now, the only way to picture yourself achieving success is through self-awareness. You would have to picture yourself as a 3rd person. For instance, picturing yourself being a successful business owner, winning a gold medal in the Olympics, or whatever it is that you would like to accomplish. Animals can not do this. I often hear people saying “visualize it” but to be honest, I am not sure that all of these people are making the most about self awareness. What’s behind that? Why is it that people suggest this? How do I know it works? I’d like to address this issue with 4 questions, but before I answer this I recommend you put into practice, like Confucius used to say: “What I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I understand“.
So, in order to understand, i expect you to do this. Even if you don’t believe it, you have nothing to lose, and a lot to win.
Ask your self the following questions:
1. What life do I want to live?
The bigger your dream, the bigger the challenge. Whatever it is, just picture yourself doing this. Not knowing where you want to be can lead you to lose control over your own life. Having a dream and thinking about it can create that need for achievement and spark creativity and imagination on how to get there. However, dreaming of one’s self doing things can often lead to frustration because dreaming does not mean that it will happen.
2. I have a dream… what’s next?
Having hope. Hope is very powerful, because it opens a window for opportunities. Hope will give a feeling that your dream is achievable. At this point, you know what you want, and you know that you can do it. so,
3. I have hope, what do I have to do to accomplish my dream?
Work hard every day. The more you work towards your goal, the higher your hope goes. Every barrier that you move out of the way tells you that your dream is more and more achievable, and that you are getting closer. At this point, your dream becomes a vision, because it is not a flare in the air what you are shooting, it is an aimed target that you must achieve. When you are working hard, you must also think of how would you respond when you finally have accomplished your vision, what kind of life would you like to live. Which leads me to the last and most important part of this process, playing the part.
4. How do I play the part?
The power of playing the part is unbelievable. Playing the part means living the life that you want to live right now, picturing yourself as if you had already achieved it.. Let me give you a quick example and then i would let the image do all the talking for me.
In the 60s, 70s and 80s, the Russian gymnastics teams took most of the gold medals in the Olympics. Laryssa Latynina won 9 gold medals, along with her teammates who also won many gold medals. But the question asked was why did they always win? Were they genetically better? Their execution was always perfect. Their answer was visualization. They would train every day, but also visualize themselves winning. When you visualize you take care of the details, such as how to make a jump, the amount of force, timing, etc. When you actually do it, you had gone through it a thousand times, so muscle memory takes care of the rest. They play the part at the gym, because in every move that they do, their mind is already in the competition, which makes them perform better in practice, with no room for mistake and when they go perform in the actual competition, it feels like another day in the gym. Takes me to the days when Michael Jordan made free throws with his eyes closed, he did it so many times and work so hard for it, through visualization and playing the part, that when he actually did it, it was “just another shot”. Easy for him to say? not, he used to practice everyday in the dark because the gym was already closed, he knew perfectly what he was doing.Same goes to businesspeople and successful entrepreneurs, they visualize themselves accomplishing their goals, and work everyday to get there, and they start playing the part. They start talking the language that they would use when they become successful, they start reading the things that they would when they become successful, they started getting ready for things that would come with their success. Covey describes how Viktor Frankl, survived the death camps of World War II through visualization, where he would picture himself teaching students. When he started doing this, he started playing the part by creating attention and becoming an inspiration for other prisoners.
I hope this image can help you remember:
As you can see in the “Playing the Part” diagram, you will start to accomplish things that go well beyond your wildest dreams, and this will only happen with your mind, and your hard work by playing the part aligned towards your dream. Get there closer everyday, move that mountain out of the way, and believe that you are already are where you want to be. How would you respond to others when you are successful? Start responding that way today.
(Thank you Manuel for the tip on the diagrams)