An extract from 'World Class Thinking; World Class Behaviour', by Penny Mallory
You have big ideas, plans and dreams in your mind, but how do you make them happen for real?
Your brain cannot distinguish between imagination and reality - the subconscious cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Visualising or imagining your goal activates your creative subconscious, exciting ideas start to formulate in your mind, and they start to feel as if they are a genuine reality. Your brain becomes more open to the resources and actions that will be required to make it happen. The fire in your belly starts to burn stronger and harder, as you start to believe that it’s really possible.
Of course, the polar opposite can also happen: if you invest all your energy in visualising the worst outcome, things can go horribly wrong.
The ‘self-fulling prophecy’ needs to work for you, not against you. You have probably read or heard about a book called The Secret. It explains how you can bring things to you by thinking about them and mentally focusing hard on what you want. It all sounds a bit trite and silly, but I have to say that all The Secret is doing is describing the powerful technique of visualisation. The author, Rhonda Byrne, calls it the Law of Attraction. I can’t argue with it. It has worked for me and millions of others. It’s worth a read - grab a copy and see what you think.
The vision you create in your head can bring about your goal, your ambition to life – you make it real by feeling it, seeing it, touching it, smelling it. Use every sense to make a vivid, clear, real picture in your mind. Doing this is like rehearsing a play, over and over.
If you run the scenario through your mind to the point where you know it is real for you, then you can enjoy the process of making your goal a reality.
Can you now see how dangerous it could be to keep on imagining things going wrong? And then you say to yourself, “I knew that would happen!” You knew it would happen because you mentally rehearsed it going wrong - you believed, convinced yourself - and then it played out that way.
I would urge you to be very careful about what conversations you have with yourself. Your internal dialogue is more powerful than you might think.
I remember sitting on the start line of a rally many years ago. Sue, my co-driver was sitting to my left. We were suited and booted with fireproof overalls, gloves, shoes, and both of us were wearing crash helmets with an intercom system for communicating with one another.
The Rally Marshall was standing outside the car, on Sue’s side, counting down from two minutes, signalling the start of our competitive stage. When he got to zero, I had to drive my heart out. I heard him say, ”1 minute”. Sue would repeat it me. Then, ”30 seconds”. I was transfixed by a huge oak tree just ahead of us, at the side of the road. I said to myself, “Don’t hit the oak tree.” “15 seconds”. I kept repeating the same thing over and over in my mind, “Don’t hit that oak tree. Don’t get near the oak tree”.
10 seconds. 5 seconds. 3 -2 -1.
Guess what is about to happen.
All my energy, focus and attention was fixed on the oak tree. The one thing I want to avoid and go nowhere near. And bang, I hit the oak tree.
Now, imagine driving flat out and through a forest, with a 300-foot drop to your left and saying to yourself, “Don’t get near the edge. Stay away from the drop.” It could be a really serious outcome.
It took me a while to work this stuff out. World Champions don’t compete thinking about things they don’t want to happen. They focus on the fastest way through the corner, the perfect shot, the smoothest swing. They think only about it going well. They visualise the perfect outcome. They never spend time imagining an unsuccessful outcome.
You can do the same. Think about what you want, not what you don’t want. You can do this in your head but also with the way you talk. “I don’t want to be late,” becomes, “I will be on time.” “I will mess up the presentation,” becomes, “I am going to deliver an amazing presentation.” Just try it for a day and see what happens. Focus on what you want to happen, not on what you don’t want to happen, or are afraid might happen.
Michael Jordan, one of the world’s greatest basketball players of all time said, "I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot; when you think about the consequences, you always think of a negative result.”
Please be careful what you wish for. You and your life become what you think about - your thoughts will become things. There is no space in your mind for things you don’t want to happen.
'World Class Thinking; World Class Behaviour' by Penny Mallory is available here:
Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, Author