In 1967, Australian psychologist Alan Richardson visited a team of college basketball players. Richardson watched the players taking free shoots at the hoop and recorded each player’s accuracy. He then randomly divided the players into three different training groups.
Group A were instructed to come to the court and spend twenty minutes a day practising free shoots. Group B were told to refrain from basketball completely for thirty days. Group C were instructed to spend 20 minutes a day visualising successful free shoots, but were told not to touch a basketball over the course of the study.
After 30 days, Group A improved their accuracy by 24%. Group B, unsurprisingly, made no progress. Group C, however, demonstrated a 23% improvement, just one percent short of the group that practiced every day.
The results of Richardson’s study were far from coincidental. The visualisation of a goal has a profound effect on the human body. A ‘goal’ here can also mean any important event, including an upcoming speech, investor presentation, or the hiring or letting go of an employee.
But it’s not just visualization – when emotions are figured into the equation the thought process becomes even more effective. When we visually emotionalize something, our brain sends out an impulse that instructs our neurons to perform that act, even if our body remains still. This, in turn, creates a new neural pathway which trains our body to perform the visualised action. The process of emotional visualisation actually primes the mind, allowing for your body and mind to operate at its peak both physically and mentally. For example, rehearsing a speech in your mind over and over again, actually forms new clusters of neurons that will allow you to go into autopilot when the real event takes place.
Anyone with a goal – whether that goal is personal or professional – can benefit from its power. Visualisation doesn’t just help a rebel entrepreneur organise their thoughts – the process literally primes the body and mind in preparation for success.