Never underestimate the power of visualisation. It may sound like a self-help mantra, but there’s a body of evidence that shows how mental imagery can accelerate learning and improve performance, and so much more.
For most of us, visual imagery is essential for memory, daydreaming and imagination. But visualisation is vital; it helps yourself and others conceptualise ideas.
They say a picture paints a thousand words. That’s why I use images that relate to my blog posts, why I share photos and motivational quotes on social media, and why my keynote presentations are visually- rather than bullet point-led. It’s also because I like to wing it a bit!
The process of visualisation is literally imagining or seeing things in your mind. Words alone have the power to create conflict, lead us down different paths and take us on journeys that segregate.
Using different senses has an enormous impact. It allows us to think outside the norm, play a little with imagination. Sound, sight, smell, taste and touch can stir memories and emotions and take us on a journey.
Visualisation and your senses
For many, the most crucial driver of innovation is visualisation and self-talk. Yet it almost sounds too strange or mystical, but today we hear more and more leaders talking about it.
As you are leading your team, anytime you get them thinking about the future you are tapping into the power of visualisation. So why not up the ante, and make it compelling?
For optimum results, put all five senses to work by combining sight, smell, sound, taste and touch to visualise your desired end-result, it becomes more real. Your brain does not differentiate between vividly imagined events and actual events. Visualise often enough and with plenty of emotion attached, and your mind considers it real.
In research conducted by Development Dimensions International with thousands of leaders, one skill stands out as the most common improvement area: the ability to sell a vision to employees. Over 50 per cent of leaders assessed a struggle to demonstrate this form of visionary leadership, a more significant deficiency percentage than for any other leadership skill.
And that’s scary, as it requires them to synthesise and clarify ambiguous, complex business concepts into a clear path forward. Perhaps if you are battling to get results, go back to the vision: is it clearly crafted, articulated and planned out on one single ‘hymn sheet’? Or is it open to massive interpretation and ending in confusion?
Visualisation and communication
In today’s world, communication is driven by visual online feeds. If as a leader, you want people to buy into your future narrative for your business, take them on a journey. Martin Luther King is well-remembered for his incredible “I have a dream” speech. He took the world on a journey with a vision so strong; he built a community of followers. Of course, he had a plan, but he did not bore them in that speech with an excel spreadsheet!
Today more than ever, we need collaboration and teams to impact results. We need everyone to buy into the bigger picture to understand their role; we need to step into leadership and take others on a journey. In the words of the Little Prince: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
By Jane Stevenson, director of Magnetic Storm
Jane is a strategist, business coach, mentor and keynote speaker