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The Top Performer’s Field Guide: Perception is Reality


“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” –Warren Bemis

by Jeff Standridge

Without getting into Zen concepts like, “what is the sound of one hand clapping” a person’s worldview is their truth. Regardless if that conclusion is factually accurate or not, conclusions sometimes cannot be shaken. You’ve likely come across this concept in the form of “perception is reality” as it relates to marketing or branding. What if we applied the same techniques to ourselves? Could we believe ourselves into a new reality? Using a technique called guided mental imagery, thoughts can lead to positive change.

Mental imaging is like getting lost in a good novel. With no more than words on a page, you’re standing beside the heroine who just saved the world from a nuclear-powered zombie invasion from Neptune. By guiding yourself through that same level of imagery, you can see yourself achieving obtainable goals. Using the classic review question, Where do you see yourself in five years?, build a mental palace of achievements necessary to get there. See yourself nailing projects and shaking hands with those congratulating you for promotions. Use the mental war room to anticipate and eliminate barriers to achieving your end goal. Periodically, affirm the milestones you achieve with success-oriented language that extols how happy or fulfilled you are at the different waypoints.

Guided mental imagery also stimulates the same neural pathways as actually performing an action. If your goal is the perfect golf swing, imagining the motion stimulates the same areas of the brain that performing the action does. In other words, your body doesn’t know the difference between ACTUALLY performing an action and the guided mental imagery of that same action. When you practice your golf swing, your brain has a bit of prewiring and achieving a consistent swing will be easier. In fact, Tiger Woods was once quoted as saying that he performs every golf shot at least twice—once or more in his mind and once on the course. If you can see it and believe it, most anything is possible.

Perception is Reality: Accelerators

  • Search on the topic of guided mental imagery and take a few moments to read a little more about it.
  • Now, identify something that you want to improve in your personal or work life over the course of the next few weeks and create a crystal clear picture of how this particular situation looks in its ideal state.
  • Develop the habit of focusing on this mental picture multiple times throughout the day, using some of the techniques you read about in question number one above. Track your results.

READ MORE: The Top Performer’s Field Guide: Can I Have a Moment of Your Time?

Jeff Standridge

Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author ofThe Innovator’s Field GuideandThe Top Performer’s Field Guide.”  He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas.  Jeff spends the vast majority of his time helping organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at

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