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It’s fine to get up each day, write in your journal, look at your vision board, say your affirmations, recite some mantras, overcome your limiting beliefs and ask the universe for everything you want. It’s not fine to then sit there and scroll Facebook and wonder why it’s not happening. Why is the money tree not bearing fruits? Because fruits require labour.
If you are asking the universe but turning up late to meetings, you won’t get where you want to get. If you are dying to create passive income but can’t convert new clients for your startup, something is going wrong. If you’re chilling out in the sun but haven’t got any bookings, you’re not self-employed, you’re unemployed. Try swapping the affirmations for networking. Try swapping the visualisation for making calls. Use those mindset exercises as a supplement to your considered actions, not a replacement.
In world champion marathon runner Paula Radcliffe’s book, How to Run, she explains how she conditions her mind to win a race. One of the mental exercises Radcliffe follows is to visualise the finish line, to imagine her friends and family are there supporting her and picture the looks on their faces as they watch her win. She pictures the race time she wants to achieve on the clock displayed above her. She thinks about this before a race and throughout too, if she needs extra motivation.
Alongside the visualisation in Radcliffe’s book are detailed training and diet plans, along with guidance on how to schedule your mileage before running your first marathon. Paula Radcliffe could, perhaps, have won all those races without the visualisation. But there’s no way she could have won them without the training. The two complimented each other to make her the fastest female marathoner of all time. One of the main criticisms of the book is that to follow her marathon training programmes, you’d have to be a full-time runner. Of course, Radcliffe was a full time runner, reportedly running over 145 miles per week!
It’s undeniable that visualisation can be a powerful tool. In an experiment conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of visualisation in how basketball players converted free throws, the psychologist split 120 of them into four separate groups. The first group practised. The second group visualised themselves making free throws, but didn’t practice. The third group undertook a combination of physical and mental practice, and the fourth group didn’t do anything. The result? Groups one and three improved, group three by a greater proportion. Group two made no significant improvement.
In this example, and plenty more from the world of business, the practice itself was the foundation and the mental exercises were the edge. Visualisation on its own didn’t work. In the real world, it should never be seen as a quick shortcut for missing practice or just putting the miles in. Visualisation should help with two things: motivation and attitude. Getting good, mastering your craft and executing your plan, that’s something else.
This year I have interviewed eleven entrepreneurs, business leaders and creatives about the childhood influences that shaped their future success. The thread that ran, without fail, through each of their stories is the impact of solid, hard work. Many of them watched their parents getting up early, putting the hours in, striving to achieve success, and they emulated this to develop their own work ethic.
Among these eleven, Craig Donaldson, the CEO of Metrobank, grew up in a pub and watched his parents share kitchen and front of house duties for 15 hours a day. He learned very early on that if customers weren’t happy with the food, drink or service, they simply wouldn’t return. This kind of attitude towards work meant that Donaldson, like many other successful entrepreneurs and business people, are unashamed of just working hard.
Surround yourself with positive people, yes. Set your goals and visualise achieving them, yes. Have mantras you say to yourself when you need encouragement, of course. But no amount of affirmations will substitute working out a plan and giving it everything you’ve got.
Remember, a plane doesn’t take off because it has mentally revved itself up so it feels ready to perform. It doesn’t lie dormant until it has motivated itself to start the engine. It takes off and reaches its destination because it’s designed to do so. All the parts are present and working: the engine, the wings, the pilot and crew. Planes take off because of design, not desire.
There is no magic potion. There is no money tree. Nothing happens suddenly. The way to really succeed? Get 90% of your motivation purely from the fact that you’re doing something you believe in, even when it’s tough. Put your heart and soul into it. Keep learning, stay enthusiastic, do the right thing. Keep going.
You can’t have the highs without the lows, and you absolutely cannot have the money, the freedom, the lifestyle, the accolades, the network and the opportunities without the hours of effort, sacrifice, perseverance and faith in the years leading up to that point. If anyone tries to sell you shortcuts, be very sceptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is selling a course promising that you can be a millionaire, consider that they’ll sell more courses if they make it sound easy. It’s not easy. Don’t be fooled. Define where ‘there’ is. If you’re not there yet, keep working.
Visualisation and hard work are the perfect pairing, but the former is not a substitute for the latter.
January 7, 2019 at 03:44AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs