Scientists tell us that over one third of our sensory cortex is visual. This makes vision our dominant sense. Therefore, as humans, our attention is powerfully attracted to what we see, both through our eyes in real time, and also in our mind’s eye – which we can call imagery.
In practical terms, we are constantly switching between what we see through our eyes (right now I see my computer screen), and what we see in our mind’s eye. These mental images change all the time, and if we don’t manage them they can negatively affect our behaviour.
If you have read our new eBook “The Elite Business Athlete” you will know that our brains are predisposed to detect threat and danger, so our mind’s eye will often display images relating to things that are worrying or threatening. For example, when you are in bed you might have images racing through your mind about an argument you had with a colleague earlier in the day. Mental images which appear often and are not controlled can be very disruptive for health, happiness and ultimately your business performance. They are likely to make you stressed, unfocused and distracted.
“I’m just going to the movies – in my head!”
Jack Nicklaus – arguably the greatest golfer of all time – understood the importance of managing mental imagery for optimal performance. He was able to consistently hack his A.P.E. Brain by controlling his mental images to boost his performances. He once explained his approach in an interview.
“Before every shot I go to the movies inside my head. Here is what I see. First, I see the ball white and sitting up high on the bright green grass.”, said Nicklaus.
“Then, I see the ball going there; its path and trajectory and even its behaviour on landing. The next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous image into reality. These home movies are a key to my concentration and my positive approach to every shot.”
Nicklaus – who won a record 18 Major championships – knew that by controlling what he saw in his mind’s eye, he could control and improve how he performed in his workplace, the golf course.
You can also hack your A.P.E. brain by taking control of your mental imagery. Recognise that you do not have to accept the images that pop into your head, you can take active control over them. Imagine that all the movies in your head are played on a mini cinema screen. When a movie comes on that you do not like or is unhelpful to you, you can use your self-control to change the channel.
To begin taking control of the pictures and movies in your mind’s eye write down one situation, relating to your health, happiness or performance, where your current mental imagery is not helpful. For example, when you are trying to concentrate, and be productive in the afternoon, you might have worries racing through your mind. These distract you from paying attention to the task at hand. To help you manage these unhelpful thoughts, you might design a suitable image, like a torch, to remind you to re-focus your concentration on the task at hand.
Managing mental imagery for better business performance
Learning how to manage your mental imagery is another important component of the Tougher Minds Personal Change Management™ and Leadership programmes. We show how to develop skills including mental imagery management for optimal performance in business and life.
You can learn more about this and more about our highly successful Personal Change Management™ and Leadership programmes, by downloading our our new eBook “The Elite Business Athlete”. To download it, click here.
If you feel Tougher Minds can help you or your organisation, or if you would like your organisation to benefit from our training programmes for business, please click here to contact us.