As Stephen Covey observed, “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.” Using Covey’s classic management tenet as a base, I’ve always associated his statement with a core technique: VISUALIZATION. This method, a paradigm in sports psychology, is also a fantastic resource that I often use in my executive coaching p.

On more than one occasion, my clients have expressed sentiments along these lines:

“Uff! Tomorrow I’ll have to battle with the marketing director! I already know how the meeting is going to end! Horrible!”

When I hear this, I tend to ask the same question: How are you going to enter this meeting?

Tense, nervous, on the defensive and somewhat aggressive… this is just a short list of their responses. If we take our tense, anxious and aggressive discourse into meetings or interactions, it’s very likely that we’ll generate a similar reaction from our counterparts. And it will happen again and again, in this meeting and the next.

When high-performance athletes visualize, they always imagine and anticipate their perfect play. It’s never about visualizing what you don’t want to happen. Carving out space for prep time, they’ll do a mental simulation that calls on all five senses. Any and all visual, auditory and even olfactory inputs and sensations are welcome. They’ll mentally repeat the enactment, experiencing it on an increasingly deeper level as they train. When the time comes to execute the play, their bodies will already be familiar with it, allowing them to perform as envisaged during their mental workout.

How does this technique benefit executives?

When executives allow themselves prep time before any type of communication-interaction-meeting, being able to anticipate, recreate and imagine – VISUALIZE – every detail of what they hope and want to happen, it will ensure that everything flows more toward their desired outcome. Not only the substance of their speech, but their body, mind and emotions will stop improvising. They will have practiced it beforehand!

When do executives visualize?

  • For one-on-one interactions-meetings
  • Team interactions-meetings
  • Difficult/high-stress interactions-meetings
  • Exciting interactions-meeting
  • Public speaking…

Be careful with your internal dialogue. If you’re preparing for your next “battle” with a colleague or department, you’ll get what exactly you’ve anticipated. Before your next interaction-meeting, I encourage you to take a different tack by envisioning your desired outcome. Based on the situation and context, use all the information and resources available to you to create your own visualization:

Athletes:

  • Visit the venue before the event
  • Identify your best moves/shots/plays that will guide your visualization
  • Recognize your emotions and best sensations (breathing, body image, attire)
  • Develop a visualization training routine

Executives:

  • Visit the meeting room or office in advance
  • Identify your strengths that will guide your visualization
  • Recognize your emotions and best sensations (tone of voice, breathing, body image, attire)
  • Schedule prep time for visualization

If we build awareness on what our day-to-day entails, we’ll be able to internally recreate scenarios, mentally construct our desired outcomes and ultimately develop a powerful tool for whatever lies ahead.

Do you visualize?