Last month Juan Carlos and I attended a National Technology-Marketing Conference in Nashville where we were reminded that performance can be impacted by how we think, and this is true whether you're in the military, you're a professional athlete or the leader of your company. During the 3-day event we spent a couple of hours with a consulting group called Afterburner, Inc., a team of former elite military professionals that brings the battle tested process of flawless execution to teams of all kinds; corporations, universities, and professional athletes like the New York Giants. Though we learned a lot from them (and will share more in subsequent newsletters), I wanted to focus on the power of visualization to drive superior performance.
Afterburner showed us a video of a briefing session the Blue Angels perform before every single performance they do. Think about this, they do this same briefing session over 300 times a year! They walk through the details of their performance, starting with the military walk to their airplanes. The "Boss," the Blue Angels Commanding Officer who files the Number 1 jet, leads the briefing session and talks the team through every maneuver, of every step of their performance. Most team members have their eyes closed and their hands positioned as though they are really in their cockpit flying their jets. They never perform without this briefing session.
Similarly, we've all heard about Olympic athletes who visualize their performance before they compete. This process lets them see themselves as they want to perform and research shows that this type of thinking can improve performance. Though we all can’t dream our way to an Olympic world record (sorry to burst any bubbles out there!), if used correctly visualization can be a powerful tool when it comes to learning new skills, and getting the most out of yourself.
The mental side of performance is often more crucial than the physical; think about it, if you don't mentally persevere and quit, you'll never know what you can achieve. Believing you can do better is the first step, and one way to do better is to picture yourself accomplishing those goals. Now, Go For the Gold in whatever is important to you!