In this series of High Performance Hacks, I’ll be delivering the practical actions, tactics and strategies used by the world’s best high performers across all fields to help them out-perform, out-work and out-shine their peers.

In this article, we take a deep dive into why the “inner-game” of high performance has become more important than the “outer-game” and how you can take full advantage of the benefits brought about by visualisation…

Practice makes perfect.

It’s a phrase that people from all walks of life are familiar with.

Whether you’re about to make a sales pitch to a group of high-profile investors or you’re stood on the edge of the six yard box, waiting in anticipation for the ref to blow his whistle so you can take a game-winning penalty kick, a strong indicator of how successful you’ll be is the amount of practice you’ve put in.

We’re all familiar with the “physical” side to practice.

Running through your speech in the bathroom mirror or spending hours on the driving-range perfecting your long-distance drive.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is an elite high performance hacker by anyone’s standards, talks about the importance of “reps” – practicing the same movement, exercise or movie script over and over again until it becomes as natural as breathing.

What we don’t hear about as much is the “mental” side of practicing – our “inner game.”

And given that the mental side to any activity tends to be by far the most important – does it not make sense that this should be given equal, if not more, attention if we expect to perform at our best?

First of all, let’s clear up what “visualisation” actually is.

In fact, I’ll start off with what it’s not because this is where I see so many people get the wrong end of the stick.

Visualisation is not making a “wish”.

It’s not seeing something in your mind as if you’re giving an order to the Universe or some divine power who is then magically going to manifest it into your life – although I have to admit, it can sometimes feel like that.

Visualisation is seeing a particular event play out, feeling the emotions, anticipating what can go wrong and most importantly, getting the outcome you want.

It’s practice for your mind and it’s giving your subconscious brain a desired result that it can start to work on.

In fact, a lot of us visualise without really thinking about it – but it’s usually because we’re worried about the wrong result instead of focusing on getting the right one.

Harnessing your mental game, preparing it for what’s to come and taking control of the outcome you’re expecting will bring about significant, and I really am talking significant here, positive changes to the direction of your life and the results you achieve.

It’s not just for the elite athletes (of which there is copious amounts of evidence that it has profound effect on their performance and plays a huge part in their daily routines and training) and performers at the upper echelons.

It’s something we can all take advantage of to help bring about our very best selves.

Let me give you two examples that are perhaps relatable to most of us.

I’m very familiar with the world of real estate and estate agency.

Let’s say you’d like to move and you need to get your home on the market.

The first part of that process involves calling up your local estate agency and arranging a “Valuation”.

The agency will arrange an appointment with a “Valuer” who will pay you a visit and run through a presentation which includes giving you an approximate value for your property.

However, a large part of that presentation is also a sales pitch.

See, for many homeowners they won’t just invite one estate agent round, they’ll invite three, four sometimes five or more agents to work out who is going to give them the best deal – so there’s a lot of competition for most of the properties that are brought to the market.

Now, let’s take a look at two estate agents, Vicki and Bob, who both have the same goal (win the listing) but approach it in a very different manner.

Bob pulls up to the property 30 seconds before he’s expected to knock on the door.

The engine’s off and there’s no time for Bob to compose himself.

He leaps out the car, paces towards the front door still cursing under his breath about the last appointment he’s just come from which was a total disaster.

Feeling stressed, disorganised and totally unprepared, Bob gives a quick wrap on the door.

The door opens and Bob is greeted by the homeowner.

Later on that afternoon, Vicki pulls up.

She’s arrived five minutes earlier so she’s got some time to get herself mentally prepared.

Vicki closes her eyes and walks through in her mind’s eye how she’d like the presentation to go.

She sees herself getting on really well with the homeowners, she anticipates any objections she may have to handle and she see’s her clients eager to get their property on the market with her, delighted with the presentation and signing on the dotted line.

She allows herself to experience that amazing feeling of knowing that you smashed the presentation out the ballpark and won the business too.

Like Bob, Vicki’s last presentation was one she’d rather forget but that’s in the past now.

Those negative feelings have melted away and she’s back in the zone – positive, enthusiastic and confident.

She knows what she wants from this meeting and she’s working in harmony with her subconscious mind (which will be giving off all kinds of signals to the subconscious mind of her prospective customer) to get the desired outcome.

Vicki steps out of the car cool, calm and collected and strolls towards the front door.

She takes a deep breath, smiles and knocks.

The door opens and Vicki is greeted by the homeowner…

In this situation, who do you think will be receive the warmest reception?

Who do you think will build the stronger rapport with the customer?

Who will the customer know, like and trust more?

Who will be giving off positive subconscious signals that are picked up on by the other party almost like telepathy?

And who is more likely to win the business, even if they’re more expensive?

I think we can all agree on the answer to that.

This transformational practice isn’t just reserved for sales meetings and high-pressure situations, you can apply visualisation to everyday life too.

Here’s a very real experience that I experienced myself not too long before writing this article.

Now normally, I’m not a very “emotional” person.

I tend to be able to keep my emotions in check and choose how I react to certain situations, rather than being led by them.

However, there are some occasions that will always get me.

Anything to do with my kids, anything to do with seeing my team in the family business grow and become better at what they do – these get me choked up every time.

And, as glum as it sounds, so do funerals.

Luckily, I’ve not had to attend many in my lifetime.

But recently I was a part of a funeral for someone in the family who was loved by all and played a large part in my growing up, especially in my younger days.

I was asked alongside my brother to read a poem that had been unknowingly left in the will, so we could only presume it had been purposefully put there to be read at the funeral.

There is no way I could have said “no.”

I felt privileged to be given the opportunity to be a part of a special ceremony.

However, not even knowing what the poem was, I already knew that I would struggle to keep it together.

Sat with my mum and my brother, I read the poem for the first time.

I didn’t even make it past the first line.

It started;

“I could not stay another day”

Given the circumstances of how this person had passed away, it was deeply emotional – far more than I had anticipated.

I tried again.

Same outcome.

At that point, I knew that if I was going to deliver this poem and do the audience and my family proud, it was going to take some mental preparation.

So, I began practicing the poem a few times a day.

There were two parts to my practicing – the learning of the actual words and speaking them out loud, and then preparing myself for the situation and practicing keeping control of my emotions so I could deliver the poem with confidence and without breaking down.

I would close my eyes and visualise standing up at the pulpit and seeing many familiar faces in the audience.

I imagined the sombre atmosphere, seeing the facial expressions and feeling the emotions of loved ones in the room on such a terribly sad day.

I “felt” all the emotions welling up inside of me that I knew I would be experiencing.

But then instead of breaking down and not being able to recite the words, I saw myself taking control and reading out the poem with confidence.

Because of this mental rehearsal, I had already experienced the event and all the emotions and feelings that would come with it.

Doing it in real life would no longer be the first time.

Given that thoughts, like the real-life we all experience is a series of electrical signals, I felt prepared and confident.

I’m pleased to say that the reading went well.

It was a small part of the service and was only a few lines, but I was proud that I’d managed to keep it together for myself and my family that were there in the audience.

I have no doubt that had I not gone through that mental preparation, I would have succumbed to my emotions and the experience would have been very similar to when I read that first line for the first time.

And had that been the outcome, I would have been disappointed for perhaps the rest of my life – regardless of the amount of words of comfort and encouragement I would have received from those around me.

With your affirmations a solid and consistent part of your daily routine, you’re already starting to perform visualisation to some degree as you begin to see yourself in your minds-eye as the person you want to become, the things you want to attract in to your life and then start taking the necessary steps to make it happen.

But use this powerful mind-priming technique as often as you can to ensure you’re always performing at your best, especially when it matters most.

Training the body without training the mind in any walk of life, is only getting the job half done.

Regular and conscious visualisation is a powerful high performance hack that will contribute greatly towards you achieving your most ambitious goals.

Ben

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