”At that speed its too fast…It’s a little bit too aggressive”
In part 5 of my “Top Gun Leadership” series, published on 02 October, we discussed how visualization need not be limited to one power point presentation or physical training event, it is a technique that can be practiced every day as positive “self talk” about how you see your day unfold or how you are going to conduct your business that day. Here are some techniques that I have actually used and seen other folks use effectively.
- Fake it ‘til you make it. If your job requires you to carry a certain confidence or “swagger” into your work, then you may just have to picture yourself as Maverick, smiling, cocky and confident while adjusting those aviator glasses on your head and saying to Goose, “I feel the need for speed.” You may think this is corny and trite, but I have actually seen this technique work. Call it mental role-playing on steroids.
- See it, hear it, smell it. Be very detailed in your visualization. With your eyes closed to block out any other sensory inputs view this upcoming event in real time. Picture the details of the room or venue you will be using to include the clock on the wall, pictures, coffee pots on the table. See yourself in your business suit, or flight suit right down to the kind of accessories are you wearing. See the scenario in your mind with as many vivid images as possible.
- As you visualize imagine the scenario evolving to include deviations, breakdowns and any matter of malfunctions. Then calmly play out those scenarios to a logical conclusion. A client may ask an important question during your power point pitch…. and depending on the position of this individual you may not be able to ask her to hold all questions to the end. You need to be able to field that question intelligently and then pick right up where you were without lapsing into saying, “Now where was I.” In the military we often say, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” So visualize everything going wrong and you successfully adapting.
- Get and new flight suit and strap into the jet. Prior to your big moment, consider buying a new suit, new necklace, power tie, Jimmy Choo shoes…. anything in your mind that gives you confidence in how you look and therefore how you will project yourself.
- Dress rehearsal! Just like an actor conducts a final rehearsal in full costume, you can do the same. Put on that power suit, uniform, and stand in front of a mirror. I know this sounds stupid and self affected but trust me this works.
- Use physical stress to mirror emotional stress. Try to go through your whole potential scenario while on the treadmill, jogging, or doing laps in the swimming pool. If your mind wanders for a lap, 2 minutes on the treadmill or whatever…. bring it back to target. There is not a cadet, midshipman or Navy Seal candidate who has not been challenged to reel off procedures or knowledge while simultaneously knocking back push-ups or jogging in place. If you can give your speech, or picture your action while exercising, you might be able to do it when adrenaline has jacked up your heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety.
- Visualize in real time. Don’t rush through your scenario in a faster pace until you’ve done it in real time, several times. If your projected briefing takes 15 minutes, spend 15 minutes visualizing it. If the race lasts 8 minutes…. your visualization should take 8 minutes.
Remember, this exercise just isn’t a rote memory practice item like knowing your pitch, or moving your hands through that next 10 foot putt you want to sink…this is imprinting it on your brain…. this is muscle memory for your brain.
I will give you one guarantee: there is not one successful elite performer of any ilk: special operations, athlete, gifted orator, or the “deal closer”, who has not visualized their performance. And as you read this, some future Maverick learning to fly close to the edge with her eyes closed and a potato masher in her right hands.
As the jukebox plays and the credits roll, Maverick gets Charlie, splashes the MiGs and lands the coveted gig as Top Gun instructor at Miramar. Win, Win, Win. I’m betting it happened just about as he had pictured it many times.