“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” –Albert Einstein
Your teenage daughter, let’s call her Sheri, is late coming back home from a party. You are unable to reach her on her mobile phone. You call Sheri’s best friend whom you know was also going to the party. She informs you that they left the party together and went different ways soon after. That was three hours ago. In that case, Sheri should have been home over two hours ago!
This is quite unusual for Sheri. What could have happened? You start imagining different scenarios. Your heart rate, your breathing and the tension in your body all start to change with every negative scenario. That’s the power of imagery. What we imagine has a direct bearing on our physical body and therefore on our response to the situations around us.
I often speak to people about their life’s purpose, goals, plans and the pursuit of destiny. I have found one consistent factor: lack of a link between the many brilliant ideas I hear about and planned action to give these ideas wings to fly. While words that describe ideas are useful, they however require translation into symbols, feelings and metaphors for them to light the spark that would rocket us to action. People simply don’t do things that they’re unable to imagine.
Lately therefore, I emphasize on the importance of imagery for it is what moves ideas (theory) into action. Here are three things you could do to boost your imagery:
- Paint a clear picture of what you want to achieve – We clarify things in our minds all the time: when we think of our next trip, or plan to decorate a room, or organize tasks for the day. The clarity required for high performance however is not something that happens accidentally, nor does it come by luck. It is a decision we consciously make, something we create for ourselves.
- Create a line of sight from action to end goal – Commitment to a goal rises with a person’s ability to see a direct relationship between where they are now and how they will reach the end goal. Take time to think through the steps necessary to effectively reach your goal. Which path will you follow to accomplish the goal? What are the milestones along the way?
- Translate words into images – To act, the body comprehends and responds to only one language: imagery. Once you have created a clear picture of your end goal, and your path of action towards the goal, rehearse them repeatedly in your mind. That’s what elite athletes do all the time: visualizing successful performance – how it looks like, sounds like and feels like – beforehand.
Stephen Covey, the American author, educator, businessman and keynote speaker says in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.”
Flex the imagination muscle and shape your future. Think visually about the kind of life you want, then take action to secure it.
©2014 David Waweru. This post is inspired by the chapter on “Build Your Vision” in the book Champion: Achieving with Excellence.