The Power of Visualizing Success

tedweekendsOur minds have an enormous capacity to connect the invisible dots to guide us to strive for the impossible.

by Faisal Hoque


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Successful people like Oprah, Bill Gates and Will Smith all claim to practice visualization. Actor Jim Carrey says that he wrote a check to himself in 1987 in the sum of 10 million dollars. He dated it ‘Thanksgiving 1995’ and added the notation, “for acting services rendered.” He visualized it for years and in 1994 he received $10M for his role in the movie Dumb and Dumber.

This ability to connect the dots comes from mindfully visualizing our path. This is a topic we have explored extensively in our book Everything Connects. Let’s first define “mindfulness” and “visualization” to set the context.

Mindfulness: Several decades ago, the term “mindfulness” used to imply Eastern mysticism related to the spiritual awakening of a person, originated by Gautama Buddha. Today, according to various prominent psychological definitions, mindfulness has been described as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999). See my related article here to learn more.

Visualization: In the psychology community, creative visualization refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one’s thoughts and expectations. Dr. William Fezler, in his book Creative Imagery: How to Visualize in All Five Senses suggests creating a detailed schema of what one desires and then visualizing it over and over again with all of the senses (i.e., what do you see? what do you feel? what do you hear? what does it smell like?).

Visualizing interconnected dots in our minds requires us to be deeply ‘awake’ or ‘mindful’.

Perhaps there is no greater example than Leonardo da Vinci’s ability to repeatedly visualize and then architect his innovative future. It was da Vinci’s observations and belief that “everything connects” that made him the 15th-century Italian Renaissance man that we all admire today. Beginning as a painter before he became a sculptor, an engineer, an anatomist, and a painter again, Leonardo proclaimed:

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Visualization practices are also common in many Eastern spiritual exercises. Hindu monastic theory makes similar arguments as Dr. Fezler. Robert Redford’s movie The Legend of Bagger Vance is full of Hindu mysticism of practicing mental visualization.

The movie was based on the 1995 book of the same title by Steven Pressfield and is about a golfer in Georgia (although the book is hardly about golf). Watch the clip below from the movie and you will see what I mean:

“See the place where the tides and the seasons.. the turning of the earth all come together; where everything that is becomes one. You’ve got to seek that place, with your soul, Junuh. Seek it with your hands. Don’t think about it, feel it. Your hands are wiser than your head’s ever gonna be. I can’t take you there…I just hope I can help you find a way.” – Bagger Vance, The Legend of Bagger Vance

Well, most of us are neither sage nor celebrities, so how do we practice mindful visualization?

I have taught myself three basic things to visualize in the hopes of manifesting my own future:

I imagine myself in the final stage (of my goals, my products, my companies, my books, my personal life, etc.)

I study patterns (of my surroundings, my markets, my skills, my behaviors, my reactions)

I practice rituals (to be disciplined about my devotion, to recover from my defeats, to thrive, to achieve a higher degree of confidence)

Visualization is perhaps one of many attributes that assures one’s future. But I have come to believe it is certainly a critical factor.

[Originally published on Huff Post TED WEEKENDS.]

Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.

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