1.1 The Power of Positive Visioning
Our life is what our thoughts make it. ― Marcus Aurelius
Could being strategically purposeful in managing what we think about provide more opportunities for our visions to become reality? What natural assets do we possess to enable us to be more effective in realizing our positive vision?
The Power of Positivity and Personal Clarity
You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. – Michael Jordan
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shares the prerequisites of world-class greatness, and he uses Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan as one of his examples. Jordan was cut from his high school’s varsity basketball team in the tenth grade. Clearly, natural talent was not the key to his success. How did Jordan become a world-class basketball player? What did he possess that permitted him to play at a high level for so many games over so many years? Jordan never had what most would consider a bad game because of his positive attitude and mental preparation. Before each game, Jordan spent twenty minutes visualizing performing flawlessly. He had a positive vision of what the crowd, the coach, his fellow players, and his opponents were going to look like, act like, sound like, and feel like. His performance on court was the realization of a vision that was supported by consistent visions of positive actions taking place in his mind before he ever hit the court.
We demonstrate this as we teach our children to ride a bike, instructing them to focus their sights on the space between the rocks as they ride. Personal experience has taught us when we focus on the rock, we hit the rock. We go where our focus goes.
University of Michigan Women’s Swim Team
The same held true for the University of Michigan women’s swim team. While I was working with Coach Jim Richardson, he asked a psychologist to work with his team to visualize success. Each swimmer was asked to visualize their perfect swim with stopwatch in hand. They envisioned every stroke and motion perfectly executed, feeling the water, the power of their rhythmic kick, the flow of each turn, and then the finishing touch. Following these vividly imagined perfect swims, many of the swimmers recorded their career-best times in subsequent meets, showing that the picture, once in the mind, more easily becomes reality.
Individuals in Your Organization
What if we all visualized our role in creating positive results before each workday? What if we visualized a difficult conversation we needed to have, and we imagined what a successful outcome would look like and feel like? What if we were to prepare ourselves for potentially tough news? As leaders, might we act and react in a more strategically and purposefully manner? Michael Jordan took the time to visualize his success, and he entertained the nation with his exceptional results. What can each of us learn from his experience to become our best self, whether it’s to visualize the day before us at the office, or the weekend at home with our family?
Research shows organizations with practices of positivity are more effective on a number of dimensions – including profitability. Organizations are collections of individuals, and positivity impacts our ability to capitalize upon our abilities and capabilities.
Positive Actions, Positive Outcomes
Karma: The fruits of our thoughts and actions, whether good or bad.
There is an energy that comes to us when we envision a desired future that has significance to us. If we can train our minds to see the possible, good energy comes to us to enable that picture to come about. Barbara Fredrickson’s shares that organizations where positive comments exceed negative comments 3:1 or more (but less than 13:1), outperform the competition. What if we focus on achieving a 5:1 ratio for our personal and professional lives? How might our lives flow in a more energized, powerful, and meaningful manner?
Think about it in your organization. How many uplifting positive team members does it take to compensate for one negative team member? Physiologically, our brains and our muscles are able to perform near their capacity when positive emotions are present; unfortunately we do not perform or think as well when fearful.
Those with a positive and abundant outlook have greater:
- mental alertness, longer lasting memory, and faster learning
- energy efficiency
- curiosity and creativity
- productivity and quality of performance
- recovery from disease
We can learn to be more positive, energized, and mindful. A gratitude journal is a powerful tool to open our lives to a mindset of appreciation, gratitude, and positivity. What brought joy into your life today, and what was the source? Write three things down. If you are like me, you will be surprised to uncover the source of your life’s energy. Little things you may take for granted surface as keys to our life’s energy.
Research at Stanford University has showed an even more powerful journaling exercise: As you write about your greatest challenges or accomplishment each day, consider their relationship to your personal values. I use this journaling approach and find it a deeper, more resonating exercise, and I look forward to journaling more. It is an energizing and aligning challenge to connect the dots of not just why I did what I did, but how my values guided me in doing the right thing in honoring who I am meant to be.
This blog is part of a series based on the contents of our upcoming book on the Foundation of Greatness. Positive Visioning is its first principle.