Visualising success in Executive Coaching does not seem to be mentioned by much of the coaching literature or coaching practitioners. Yet visualisation, sometimes referred to as guided imagery or mental rehearsal, is a technique that is widely used in sport especially by many top athletes to improve performance.
If it works in the world of sport why wouldn’t it work in other spheres such as business? It is an approach that we have used to support a number of Executive Coaching clients and it has been of significant value to them.
So what does it mean exactly? In effect it is a mental rehearsal for the brain. If it is done properly the brain treats it as if it were the real thing. So when the event arrives it’s almost like you have already done it successfully. So for example if you have an important presentation coming up you can work with your coach to visualise it, or mentally rehearse it. You’ll be amazed what a difference it makes to how you perform on the day.
Recently some Russian scientists took four groups of sports people and gave each different proportions of physical practice and mental practice. Group one only did physical practice. Groups two and three had increasing proportions of mental practice. Group four had 75% mental practice and 25% physical practice. Guess which group did best in the event – group 4, the ones with the highest level of mental practice.
The key to making visualisation effective is to mentally rehearse the event you have coming up in as vivid detail as possible. You then need to do this for at least 5 days prior to the event. Let’s use the example of making an important presentation to explain the approach. The key steps are:
- Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed
- Get into a relaxed state of mind
- Start to put together the mental rehearsal or visualisation in your mind
- See yourself walking up on to the stage – see yourself as looking and feeling confident and looking forward to the presentation
- Look around the room what can you see – what things can you see? What coulour are they?
- How warm is the room?
- What can you hear?
- How do you feel?
- What are you thinking?
- You start making the presentation – how do you sound? What do you say?
I am sure you get the idea. Each day build a richer and richer texture to the visualisation. Concentrate on the details of what you can see, hear, feel. Consider what you are thinking and how you feel. You will find on the day that you do perform well as a result of this mental rehearsal – after all you have already done it successfully in your head, this is just a re-run.
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