Gerard Crowley: If you can't visualise it, you can't do it

Many of us will have started 2017 with grand resolutions of making this our best year in business yet.

Gerard Crowley said visualisation is no longer 'new age hype'. Picture: Contributed
Gerard Crowley said visualisation is no longer 'new age hype'. Picture: Contributed

However, recent research from the University of Scranton in the US claims only eight percent of us will stick to our resolutions.

Visualisation techniques, already used extensively in sports psychology, could be the key we need to ensure that this year we stick to them.

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Eastern-style techniques such as mindfulness and mediation have already been adopted by companies like Google, Sony and Ikea to boost productivity. Now visualisation, where a person uses mental imagery to rehearse a future situation, which had previously been debunked as “new age hype”, is making its way into the business world.

Sports psychologists have used the technique for years, with an impressive list who say visualisation helped them achieve their goals. Devotees include Manchester United’s prolific goal scorer Wayne Rooney, Lindsey Vonn – one of the most successful female skiers in history – and golf’s Rory McIlroy, who uses visualisation to help with difficult shots.

In a study by a major American bank, 500 small business owners surveyed about their “visualisation practices” found that people who imagine their financial and business goals are more confident that they will achieve them than people who don’t.

As a means to improve performance, research suggests that visualisation works because the brain can struggle to tell the difference between imagining doing something and actually doing it. By seeing a positive outcome, the brain becomes more used to the result, encouraging people to become more confident in their goals and therefore increasing the likelihood of success.

Sports players are said to imagine every minute detail, from the wake-up call that gives them butterflies, putting on their kit, to the sound of the crowd. For business leaders to create such a detailed image requires a crystal-clear business vision.

One of the singular most important starting points for a business that wants a degree of change towards new goals and aspirations is to have a clear vision of their business aim. In our view the only way to achieve this is to implement collective values that unite the team to live, understand and fight for this shared vision. Once this vision is clear it must become part of the business’s DNA and appear in all forms on a daily basis.

Team Challenge Company has seen a 25 per cent increase in demand for vision and values training since 2012, demonstrating that business leaders are increasingly focusing on the how and why their business will succeed and visualisation could give that extra edge to help them really take off in 2017.

• Gerard Crowley is co-director of corporate team development business Team Challenge Company