Many, if not most of us, would remember the story of two basketball teams that were quite evenly matched participating in a tournament. Two days before a big match, one of the teams was at its more-intense-than-usual practice session, practicing their drills and working through game plans. The other team did something quite different. Instead of the frenetic preparation that usually preceded a big match, practicing their drills and working through game plans just like the first team, they were SITTING around the court. Maybe stretching and limbering up a little, but mostly sitting. What were they doing? You’re right – visualizing! Visualizing their moves, how they executed their game plan with flawless precision, how they intercepted the ball, how they scored with every attempt, how they controlled the tempo of the game. Guess who won the match? You got it – the team that VISUALIZED beforehand.
basketballDo YOU visualize? Remember – visualizing is different from fantasizing. Fantasizing involves wishful thinking, and while some way-out ideas MIGHT come from fantasizing, I am willing to bet that not many useful ideas that are actually translated into positive action come from fantasizing. Visualizing, however, involves thinking through what we desire in the future, whether immediate, intermediate or distant. It is like a rehearsal of a future reality with fine-tuning, contingencies and alternate plans already built into the process. In the case of the second basketball team that won the match, they had already rehearsed their victory before it was actually played out on the court.

Finally, remember that visualization isn’t the whole story, either. Dr Ivan Misner of BNI often talks about “wind sprints” that football teams, particularly the most successful football teams, go through at every practice session. They are basically short sprints that are repeated over and over in order to improve the players’ wind, speed and endurance. They are a great illustration of what it means to be living a life of excellence – it’s a daily practice, not an isolated incident. If the second basketball team that had visualized their winning game had done just only that – visualized their winning game, nothing else, do you think they would have won? No prizes for the first correct answer!

So, let’s make sure that we practice excellence at work, at home, in our social circles, with our friends and loved ones. Remember, a great way of maintaining that excellence is to both practice and visualize. Have a great week!
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