Perhaps the most striking example of the power of visualization is Olympic decathlon gold medalist, Bruce Jenner. While a guest on my radio talk show in Chicago, I asked Bruce to tell me about his gold medal and record-setting victory in Montreal in 1976.
Bruce interrupted me and said, “Jeff, I didn’t win the gold in ‘76, I won it in ‘72!” I said, “Excuse me?!” And he said, “Let me explain. Jeff you’re right, technically I won the gold in 1976 in Montreal, but I really won it in 1972, when I lost in Munich.”
He said the victory in Montreal was for the world to witness, but what he called the victory in ‘72 was even harder to secure, because it was a victory only within his mind. He told me that from the moment he lost in Munich in 1972, he began to rededicate and recommit himself to his goal, the gold medal in the decathlon.
He saw himself victorious every day for the next four years. He saw himself standing on the victor’s platform with the gold medal draped around his neck. He saw himself circling Olympic Stadium, waving the American flag. Bruce Jenner visualized victory, and it became reality.
Visualize your victory!
Bruce Jenner’s success is a dramatic testament to the impact of visualization. And visualization is also linked to the next step in programming your belief system, and that’s graphic reinforcement, or using pictures to help you focus on your dreams or goals.
Bruce Jenner also used this winning strategy. Jenner took a picture of the gold, silver and bronze medalists from the 1972 Olympic games, and then altered the picture in a rather unique way. He cut out the head of the gold medalist and in its place, pasted his own face. For the next four years, he stared at a picture that showed him, Bruce Jenner, to be the gold medalist. Wow! What a powerful example.
What might your pictures or words of graphic reinforcement be? That’s a personal decision, but if you’d like, here’s a fun project. When I’m conducting goal setting workshops, I have participants create goal setting or achievement posters. They’re surrounded by personal photos and lots of magazines. The magazines are a source of inspiration, with articles, words and pictures about successful people or advertisements promoting products people might like to own. These pictures and words can be pasted onto the goals posters.
Graphic reinforcement can be a single picture, or with the goals posters, it can be several pictures. The posters tell a story of accomplishment and success at both the personal and professional level. Clients’ posters have included pictures of their dream home, a vacation getaway, a new car, the corporate logo of a prospect they’re pursuing or words that reinforce their lifestyle or approach to business, such as teamwork, persistence or innovation.
Finally, as part of “programming your belief system” you need to set up a support system. This support can come from a spouse, a significant other, a friend or even business associates; but it must be a person or people who share in your commitment.
Remember, you’re pursuing your goal with a passion within your gut, a fire in your belly and a tenacity in your tummy, so stay away from the predictors of doom and gloom, the naysayers and the critics. Surround yourself with other positive people who believe in you and what you’ll accomplish.
Quickly “identify” problems and solve them!
Now, let’s explore the sixth step in the GRASP IT goal achievement system, Identify obstacles and solutions. Whenever possible, try to anticipate the obstacles or problems that might deter you from reaching your goal, and then create a solution. If the problem requires you to implement plan B, then do it. Quickly. Efficiently. Successfully.
Don’t be afraid to prepare for a change of course that might be required. You should always plan for success, but it’s smart to anticipate what might hinder that success. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then you’re ready to act, quickly and decisively.
Stay on track!
And finally, you should always see how you’re doing. You must Track your progress. That’s our seventh and final strategy for the GRASP IT goal achievement system. Remember, airplane pilots adjust their flight patterns. Coaches call time outs, and business people review sales figures and expense reports. How come? To see if a change or a new path is needed. If you too, require a new path to successfully reach your goal, then take it! If not, still see if improvements can be made.
The old adage was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The new adage should be, “If it ain’t broke, test alternatives, see if you can make it better.” On a regular basis, perhaps daily, weekly or monthly, you should track or assess your progress.
Begin by deciding if you want to keep this goal. If you do, then determine if you want to move forward “as is,” without altering your game plan. Or, do you need to change, or in some way alter, this goal? Do you simply want to toss out or no longer pursue this goal? For whatever reason, maybe it’s no longer important to you. Remember, change and goal achievement happen over time, not overnight. Reprogram yourself toward positive action. Try to understand your sources of resistance, and then neutralize them. Let’s quickly review the seven steps of the GRASP IT goal achievement system: 1. Specify your Goal. 2. Target a date for the goal’s Realization and identify how you’ll Reward yourself, when the goal is realized. 3. Develop your Action plan. 4. Maximize your Strengths. 5. Program your belief system. 6. Identify obstacles and solutions. 7. Track your progress. The time for change is now!
To make these GRASP IT strategies work for you, we need to focus on one more skill or behavior, and that’s your ability to change. Change is truly the only thing of which you and I can be certain. David Thomas, dean of the Cornell Business School, once said, “The number one characteristic of students who later became leaders is the willingness to withstand uncertainty.”
One of the keys to successful goal achievement is to turn uncertainty into certainty. That’s because in the future, change will be the only constant. That means you have to adapt your goals and plans to the changes in your life. If you want, need or demand more from your life, business or career, you may have to change. The old way may no longer work or be appropriate. Therefore, to grow, you must be willing to change.
That involves six key elements: 1. You must accept life with the understanding that nothing comes to stay, but only to pass. 2. The most effective way to deal with change is to change. 3. The best way to minimize the impact of change is to make the commitment to planning, ongoing knowledge and goal setting. 4. You’ll always have to play the game differently, not because you want to, but because you have to – because the marketplace, your life and circumstances are always changing. 5. Addiction to the past sets a trap for your future. 6. Be willing to bust out of your zone of comfort, security and complacency.
You’ll achieve your goals when you make the commitment to change, improvement and enhancement. To help you capitalize, not capsize, from change, to attain new levels of success, to GRASP IT, remember the words of Lester Thurow, who once said, “A competitive world has two possibilities for you. You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.”
The GRASP IT goal achievement system was created to help you win! Success and goal setting are simply the progressive movement toward, and eventual realization, of a worthwhile idea. As a worthwhile being, you deserve success. Demand it. Require it. Insist upon it. Choose your goals carefully, and then set your mind, body and world into motion.
There are no limits to your success unless who puts them there? That’s right, you! The only limit to your goals is likely to be your own personal parameters, mental mindset or belief boundaries. But remember that when you’re busting through your own boundaries, it’s not trespassing!
Here’s to your success, as you no longer need to simply hope and wish for achievement, because now, you have the attitude and aptitude to GRASP IT!
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” In 2008, he was one of five inductees into the National Speakers Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame. If you hire speakers, please contact Blackman at (847) 998-0688 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit jeffblackman.com to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s free e-letter, “The Results Report.”