Today, I want to talk about, again, maybe something slightly different and yet, something that absolutely will help your success this year, and that is visualisation. It comes on the back of thinking time.
Before I get into that, if you’re new here, fabulous to have you; if you aren’t familiar with the Superfast Recruitment website, we’ve got lots of resources for your recruitment marketing in 2021. Go and watch some of the videos, listen to the podcasts, read all the content.
If you want to move forward with your marketing, you need to check where you are first, so download our marketing audit checklist.
It’s been updated for a post-Covid market; it asks you to go through a set of questions and assess where you are. Now, be honest with yourself because you’re not fooling anybody. Just think about, “Where am I on it? Am I really doing this? How do I compare to other people?”. It’ll give you a sense of where some of your gaps are and where would be a good starting point.
What is Visualisation?
Let’s start talking about visualisation. It’s a topic which is a great passion of mine. My degree is in human physiology and biology. Visualisation was something I came across as a result of my degree quite a few years ago.
This particular topic around the brain has just exploded in the last 20, 25 years because we’ve been able to analyse and assess and look at different data on how the brain works. Let me talk first of all about visualisation and how visualisation could work for you when it comes to your marketing because, as we know, a lot of what happens for us as individuals is down to how we process and how we work with our mind.
Yes, of course, we need all the right strategies, but we need to have a mind that we can control, which helps to move us forward rather than stopping us from trying to help us.
I think one of the magical things about being alive today is that we have so much more knowledge around spiritual practices, the way our brains work, quantum physics. On top of that, we also have some very pragmatic, practical tools that we can use in combination with all these other things, and that is where the magic happens.
Not to go off too much off tangent, but in many ways, I manifested, visualised, a fantastic house in the Lake District in the UK, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and a business that ironically is fundamentally an online business that we started a few years ago which is now coming into its own.
Much of that happened by rolling our sleeves up and working hard, and acting on everything we were visualising, planning, and dreaming. I’m a great protagonist of visualisation.
Let me give you a little more evidence if you’re a little more cynical about it. I’m sure you aren’t because there’s so much evidence out there about how athletes use visualisation.
The Science Behind Why Visualisation Works
But let me talk a little bit about the brain, about neuroplasticity, how it all works together in creating amazing things in our lives. Then, how you might visualise what you want within your recruitment organisation in a practical way.
There is strong scientific evidence which explains the how and the why of visualisation and why it works. I’m not going to do a massive deep dive into it in this podcast, but it’s well known that we stimulate the same regions of the brain when we visualise an action and when we perform that same action.
One of the particular pieces of research was around people lifting their right hand, and as they were visualising lifting their right hand, then the same part of the brain that helps to perform that action lit up at the same time. Now, the hand wasn’t moving, but the individual in question was visualising that specific action.
You can see that there’s a shared area of brain activation that works in this way. That’s an astounding piece of evidence. If you’re interested in this, I suggest it might be something to think about this year, as you’re planning out the new things you want to learn.
There’s a lot of data around stroke victims; when someone has a stroke, part of the brain dies off. One of the strategies used in medical practice is to get stroke victims to visualise events to improve blood flow in some regions of their body.
If you’ve ever heard of a guy called Dr Joe Dispenza, he’s a neuroscientist, and he’s done a lot of work on this. He’s committed his life to it now because he had a terrible biking accident many, many years ago and was told he’d never walk again. He credits visualisation, and a few other things, to how he improved.
I’ve talked a bit about healing practices, and what about athletes?
Visualisation in High-Performance Sports
Now we all know, I’m sure, about what athletes do to visualise their performance. There are many stories online about Linford Christie and how he used to imagine going through the finish line at a particular time. He used to visualise his times time and time again.
One study showed how Stanford gymnasts worked on improving their techniques on complicated tricks. They used hypnosis and visualisation to practice these. Of course, the result was things went better than expected. Because of the visualisation that they implemented, they had a massive shift in their performance too.
Visualisations work best when you have a goal. You set that visual imagery in your mind. Also, you write it down; I’ll come onto that in a second, it’s then in your mind, and you start to act on it.
Discovering Your Goals
Because if you have a goal that you’re going to be working on three days a week, your business will skyrocket, you’re going to have happy employees, and then, obviously, you need to visualise that. Still, you also need to start acting on that too, because you are programming your brain, so your brain’s got it. It’s bringing circumstances, events, and people into your life, but you need to step forward and work with that too. Otherwise, nothing’s going to happen.
Now, part of what you may want to achieve is learning new skills. Often, we’ll get people that come on to our Superfast Circle program; they’ve never done certain things before, it might be a business owner and a marketer, and they’re learning new things.
Then, what’s fascinating for us to watch is those who are committed, as they’re learning new things, getting all these new skills, and suddenly, they’re throwing up landing pages, creating email campaigns that are working. They’re getting out there in a huge way, and things are working for them.
Creating New Neural Pathways
One of the reasons this works is a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Now, it’s a great jargon word, isn’t it? What is neuroplasticity?
Well, the brain is capable of changing its structure. Fascinating, I know. It can generate new neurons; it can create connections between those neurons. Until probably 10, 15 years ago, it was thought that the brain structure was fixed. Over the last 30 years, there’s been so much research around this that shows that it isn’t fixed. It’s one of the premises of coaching, of course, because people can remove bad habits that, if you like, have been programmed, they can create new habits too.
This is a premise that’s been working for so many years. Therefore, the brain is very capable of modifying itself. Every thought, sound, feeling, and action is changing the brain at every single moment. We have the capabilities to learn and unlearn things if we want to. That’s how we get rid of bad habits and create new ones.
It’s been established, without doubt, that neuroplasticity is a fantastic property of the brain. Now, hold that thought as we talk about visualisation and how it links to visualising what you want.
You may be aware that the brain finds it very hard to differentiate between fact and fiction. This is the process that many athletes use that I’ve just talked about, in how they improve their performance.
What governs this is one particular part of the brain. I’m not going to go too much into deep science here, but it’s called the thalamus. The thalamus is in the centre of the brain, and it plays a crucial role in identifying what is and isn’t real. Every sensation, every thought, our moods, they pass through it as, if you imagine, it’s codified as information, and then it’s passed on to other parts of the brain.
As I just said, it’s pivotal in identifying what’s real and what isn’t real. It gives us a sense of emotional meaning to our thoughts that appear in the frontal lobes or the neocortex. This is the front of the brain, the decision-making area of the brain.
Making Your Dreams a Reality Through Visualisation
When you exercise an idea repeatedly, your brain will begin to respond as though the concept was real. The thalamus makes no distinction between inner and outer realities.
If you think about something long enough, your belief becomes neurologically positive and becomes real in your brain. It will then respond accordingly to the inputs that it’s having.
Last week, we talked about thinking and a little bit around meditation as well. When you think about a specific goal, and do this consistently over an extended period, your brain begins to relate to the inputs it’s been having. Your brain starts to act as though it is real, as though it was an object in the world.
By increasing activity within the thalamus, part of the brain’s reality-making process, it’s as though it feels more obtainable and real. This is the first step to motivating other parts of the brain to take action in the real world.
So, how does this work when it comes to visualisation?
We already know that the brain finds it hard to distinguish between imagination and reality, and the brain thinks in pictures and images. Let’s take this a few studies further; I hope you’re still with me!
When you visualise, you create an image in your mind; you bring into play what we talked about before. We talked about the fact that the brain loves imagery, it loves visuals, and it also can’t distinguish between real and imagined. When you bring these two things together, the brain goes about creating new neural pathways.
We talked about neuroplasticity before – new pathways emerge in your brain, and connections work together as you think about and visualise what you want.
Neuroscientists have discovered that when you visualise, you create new neuropathways in the brain. This acts as a blueprint that you can then follow as you move through the actions and performance of what you want to achieve.
If you’re visualising you’ve got an amazing office, social distancing, of course, and you’ve got a great team of people that are happy and motivated, you may not have that at the moment, but that’s your visualisation. The brain and the neural pathways are being developed that go to work on that, and it’s creating the same neural pathways, whether you are visualising it or whether you are actually doing it.
The key thing is that these pathways get strengthened as you take action. What’s fascinating is that because I’ve been visualising something and, of course, that blueprint is there now, it feels surprisingly familiar when I start to move into action. This is because I’ve set these neural pathways up through a visualisation that I’m doing consistently.
How Visualisation Has Worked for Me
Let me share a story of how this worked in my own life. If any of you have ever seen Sharon and I live, you’ll know that Sharon does most presenting and I do the majority of the podcasts. We divide things up that way. I do present, but I have to work on it because it’s not natural to me; I’m a little bit more introverted.
This was particularly so when I was in my corporate role; I was a sales manager and sales and marketing director. What I would do is, if I had to present – often I would have to present at a national conference, sometimes in front of like 400 or 500 representatives – I would get through it with visualisation. I would consistently, in my mind, visualise. Obviously, I would rehearse my presentation as well, but I would constantly visualise standing on the stage using a microphone with the light shining at me.
We’d always be flown out a couple of days before, and I would go and look at the stage, first of all, and I would spend a lot of time visualising so that I was on point. Often, people would come up to me afterwards and say, “Oh, God, that was an amazing presentation.”
For me, it was amazing; just because I’d visualised it, I’d gone over it, and I’d taken action. I got the desired result that I wanted by working with my brain in this way. Knowing all this, how can you use this information to visualise what you want in your company, your bigger goal, and your plan?
Now, you may want to start small. I gave you an example of a committed, motivated team in an amazing office. It may be that that’s your starting point, and that’s what you want to do.
Then you start to move into action because the visualisation you have of a happy, motivated team could turn into the realisation you need to recruit some new people. Or you need to have more training in place, look at motivation, and look at performance management.
There could be all these things that you’re visualising as you move forward.
Now, how do I do my visualisation? I do it in two ways, to be honest. You can do it three ways, but let me just use these two ways first of all. The first thing is, I sit down in a nice quiet space, and I decide what it is that I want. No matter what, I write it down, and then I sit, and I dream and think about it. I see it in my mind, and I see myself interacting. I see myself in the picture because that always makes it more powerful for me.
I see my perfect day. I might write out my perfect day, my perfect week, my perfect month. I might do some little pictures around it, or just little stick men and women.
Also, what I do is, create my vision board. Vision boards were very popular a few years ago, and they went out of popularity. Look at images, colours, events, create a board that has the vision for your life, whatever that might be.
I remember creating a vision board many years ago that had a picture of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It had a picture of Sharon and me in the Lake District. That happened – you could say, “Oh, well, yes, that was an easy one”.
Trust me; it was not easy to give up a very highly paid corporate job, move to somewhere where nobody knew us, and start a business from scratch.
That’s what we did, and that came through visualisation. We still have our vision boards to this day. We now have a different vision board about the next story in our lives.
We are so lucky now, aren’t we? We’ve got Google; we’ve got Snipping Tool, we’ve got everything we need to actually print some things off, put them on a board, laminate it, and look at it and imagine yourself living that life.
Maybe it’s that you visualise that you’ve got 20,000 people on your database. You visualise yourself talking to lots of candidates; you visualise these people being in place. You visualise them out there in their ideal role. You visualise clients coming to you and having conversations with them. You visualise being on Zoom with them currently.
Media is so rich in today’s world, and you can use it to create difference and help you get a real focus and a handle on what you’re going to achieve.
It works for athletes. It works for Oprah. It works for successful business owners everywhere. They will tell you about their visualisations. You go to the medical profession; they will tell you how they use visualisations to help people get better.
Many things are out there for you. Visualisation is one of them, along with thinking that you can literally, completely switch your business trajectory this year.
If you would like more information on how to grow your recruitment business this year through tried and tested marketing strategies – head to our blog where you will find our extensive blog catalogue on how to grow your recruitment business.
This is Denise saying bye for now, and I’ll see you next week.