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visualize your success

Visualize Your Success

lovers leap

Lover’s Leap is one of the most popular spots at Blue Sky Basin. The size of the drop-off will vary depending upon snow and wind conditions. The section on the skier’s right of Lovers Leap has some large boulders that you can drop off of when there is enough snow.

Lovers Leap is by far my favorite run at the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado. We’re lucky to live only a few miles from the lifts. This proximity gives me endless opportunities to hurl myself into space from the top of that rugged ridge each winter. A place you better visualize your success before you take it on.

But not the winter of 2010. On January 3 at 7 A.M., I had both knees surgically replaced at a hospital in Denver. “Bilateral Knee Arthroplasty,” the surgeons called the procedure. I called it “bilateral end of ski season.” The replacement operation became necessary due to years of wear and tear from excessive use rather than from any specific incident. I spent most of January on our sofa with ice bags secured by Ace bandages on both elevated knees.

All I could do was jump from Lovers Leap in my mind.

Use Visualization as a Planning Tool

Visualization is one of our most powerful life tools. I don’t just believe this; I know it with certainty. As humans, we have the seemingly unbelievable ability to create any image, story, or experience in our minds. I’m talking about conscious visualization—not just the dreams of deep sleep. Wide awake in the middle of the day, we can create in our minds a movie or still picture of anything we choose.

A black and white dog. Do you now have an image of a black and white dog in your mind? An orange and gold sunset over the ocean. Are you now with me on the beach at dusk? How about a green unicorn? Can you visualize your success?

Anyone can use visualization to recall past experiences. And that’s exactly what I did every day as I lay in my living room in the weeks following my knee surgery. I took dozens of runs down Lovers Leap, each time choosing a slightly different course. I even modified my competence level to make it appear as if I were a better snowboarder than I was. What an outstanding athlete I was—at least in my mind!

You can just as easily recall past events, modify and edit those experiences, combine multiple related and unrelated events, and play them back in any way you choose. Chances are you do this every day without conscious effort.

Now, pivot that ability 180-degrees—from looking back on your past to looking into your future. Can you use visualization to predict your future? Perhaps not—because planning must take into account a degree of uncertainty. But you can use visualization to influence the probability of your results.

I have zero doubt that this works; I’ve used it successfully for years.

A Clear and Detailed Vision

I’ve described myself as a fact-based businessperson. An auditor. Analytical and logical. A professional observer of what works and what holds people back. From my years of business experience and many more of life experience, I know that having a clear, detailed vision of what you want, where you want to be, and who you want to be dramatically increases the probability these things will manifest.

Remember what Emerson said: “You become what you think about all day long.” Implicit in this statement is that the more you think about what you want, the more you bring what you want into reality. The more clarity and feeling you bring to that vision, the better.

Interpersonal skills: the lesson from Rufus

airline gate signIt’s another day at an airport. Passengers are lined up for United flight 422 from Denver to the east coast. I’m third in line to board the plane on a busy Monday morning in late March. Several passengers are returning home from Colorado mountain ski vacations. Just as many are business travelers starting another week on the road with this four-hour flight. It’s a beautiful morning with sunny skies and a hint of spring in the cool mile-high air. Normal. Routine. Dull. Except for Rufus.

Rufus is our United Airlines gate agent. His job is to take each passenger’s boarding pass, scan it, and send us down the people chute. Last year, I took more than 130 flights and don’t remember even one of the gate agents. But I remember Rufus.

Rufus is African American. His shaved scalp reflects the overhead fluorescent lighting, and his smile lights up the room. As each of us gives our boarding pass to Rufus, he responds with a hearty welcome and look in the eye. He smiles, shakes each hand, and says, “Have a great week.”

Rufus acts as if he actually enjoys knowing that you’re flying on his company’s airplane. As if he really wants you to have a great week—just like he says. Perhaps some people do care after all. This can change a passenger’s view of an entire company.

That day, I’m fortunate to be upgraded to first class. (Take 125 flights a year on the same airline and you might be upgraded, too . . . maybe.) I had seat 1D by the window on the left entering the plane. From that position, I can overhear people talking about the wonderful gate agent, Rufus, whom they’d just met.

In this busy world, the one area in which conscious attention greatly affects the quality of life is that of interpersonal skills. People have become increasingly distracted, busy, and self-involved with an absence of civility becoming the norm. They seem afraid of connecting with each other, even making eye contact and offering a smile, and I don’t even know why. It’s a shame. This problem could be fixed for free—but who’s willing to tackle it?