In 1996, Israeli author and politician Natan Sharansky beat the chess world champion Garry Kasparov. He’d gained his chess expertise during nine years in a Soviet prison, and he did so without the benefit of a chessboard or a partner. Rather, he’d spent those years visualizing himself practicing to oust the standing champion.
Likewise, research has shown that golfers who practice visualization practice more, set higher goals, and have more realistic expectations. Musicians use mental rehearsal to hone skills and prepare for performances, including anticipating challenges.
If visualization can provide so many benefits in so many creative fields, imagine the advantage that entrepreneurs who use imagery techniques can gain. We’ve identified five times when visualization can be used to empower entrepreneurs.
Whether you’re preparing to launch a new business, a new product or service, or a new partnership, visualization helps lay the groundwork for success. By imagining what that launch will entail and how it will look and feel, you’re mentally preparing yourself for the hard work of any new endeavor while also anticipating potential obstacles to your launch’s success.
For new entrepreneurs in general and many women entrepreneurs in particular, events such as setting rates and initial meetings with new prospects can be nerve-shattering. Try to imagine these scenarios as though you were on the other side of the table listening to your own proposals. Would you quibble over an expert charging expert rates? Or attempt to undermine a budding business owner? Absolutely not. If your prospect reacts in any of the unreasonable ways that you might be imagining, they’re not ideal clients anyway. Visualizing these situations will help to give you the confidence that comes with practice as well as insight into how they may play out.
Growing your business
Growing a business involves many moving parts. It’s not simply a matter of getting more clients. You’ve also got to figure out how to scale processes, how to fund growth, and how to measure success. Visualization provides entrepreneurs with a picture of what these processes will look like as well as a vision of what successful growth will look like, offering a benchmark (or several) for entrepreneurs to measure their growth. It also provides a means of anticipating potential obstacles and opportunities.
Adjusting to unanticipated changes
If we’ve learned nothing else from the past decade, it’s that the business world changes rapidly and without warning. Being forewarned is being prepared. Being prepared is being successful. Visualization allows entrepreneurs to predict changes and problems that may present themselves and to rehearse solutions and adjustments before they’re needed.
Without imagination, there can be no invention. We cannot see innovation before we bring it into the world, which means that visualization is not only suggested but demanded of entrepreneurs who want to stay on the cutting edge of their industries. By visualizing the problems that your business or your target market encounter, you can begin to visualize new solutions to those problems. You’re getting your brain into that fluid, high-performing state known as flow.