In my last article, I wrote about how to effectively use visualization to improve. In this article, I'd like to show you how I've used this visualization process myself.

A quick recap of the visualization process:

  1. List the activities you need to get better at to achieve your goals.
  2. Focus your attention on activities you already perform somewhat frequently.
  3. Find real-life examples of people performing these activities successfully.
  4. Take notes what you notice about these successful performances.
  5. Visualize yourself performing these same activities successfully.

My Visualization

  1. List the activities you need to improve at to achieve your goals:

    I have a pretty good position within the company I'm at right now. I'm fairly well-paid, am in a positive of leadership, and manage people below me.

    That being said, the company I'm working at's success is largely project-based so there's inherent risk. I know that if I'm to succeed here and elsewhere I need to do a better job building trust and communicating the work I've already done to earn it.

    In the past, I've been bad at this, essentially not communicating what work I've already performed and also not communicating observations I've already made that indicate that I understand the scope of the specific problems we're currently trying to solve and why they're important.

    When I have communicated my pre-work and observations, it's helped built trust with my colleagues and made my job managing people a lot easier.

    So this leads me to two conclusions, 1. that it'd be good for me to improve my skills at selling myself and 2. that it'd be good for me to improve my communication with colleagues to better build their trust.

  2. Focus your attention on activities you already perform somewhat frequently.

    Is performing sales and communicating within organizations something I touch upon frequently?

    As for sales, yes and no. I work on sales strategy and have some evidence that I'm fairly good at it helping to close some large deals in the past, but I'm not typically the person who pitches. I have closed some large deals myself including very good salaries, but I don't do this frequently.

    Is intra-team-communication something I do a lot of? You betcha. I've managed employees remotely through email, phone calls, and WhatsApp for more than 6 months. But even if I wasn't working with and managing a remote team, I see intra-team communication as one of the most important career skills.

  3. Find real-life examples of people performing these activities successfully.

    To find real-life examples of successful sales practices, I've put myself in the position of being sold to. I'm currently working on a few side projects so I've hired some help in software development and UX. This has enabled me to be on the receiving end of many sales pitches.

    To find real-life examples of corporate leadership, I've recently been watching the work of Nathan Barry who impressed me at LTV Conf in NY 2 years ago with his presentation on how he broke through his Convert Kit's growth barriers by focusing on direct-sales to identify key sales objections. While his presentation topic was on the value of sales, I've found the focus of his writing is teaching people how to manage and build trust within organizations as he is the unexpected leader of a 40-person company.

  4. Take notes on what you notice about these successful performances.

    The process of being sold to has been very enlightening. Because I have skin in the game, AKA need these services, I can feel my heartstrings being pulled by good salespeople and my emotional trust broken by others. Each time these instances happened I wrote down my experience and reminded myself this is a response I might have produced in the person I was trying to sell to. I wrote down what salespeople said to me and then described the effect and paraphrased what they said to avoid memorizing lines that couldn't be used outside very specific settings.

    On leadership, watching Nathan talk about leadership, AKA building trust among colleagues, has reinforced some beliefs I already had about how I can and should communicate with colleagues: minimize office politics by never rewarding talking behind other people's backs, communicate the context you use to make decisions, and acknowledge how people you're working with feel when they're faced with difficult situations. This is great because it makes me more confident and act more decisively. I've also taken notes on when my trust was broken by people who've managed me before. Since I know maintaining the trust of your subordinates is an essential part of leadership, I don't want to make these mistakes myself and have written down what I would do differently in each of these scenarios. On the positive side, I've noticed how effectively speaking with a positive tone and calm affirming body language inspires confidence, soothe employee worries, and enables effective collaboration.

  5. Visualize yourself performing these same activities successfully.

    So how did I transform these learnings into my own visualizations?

    For sales, I visualize myself walking through how the sales process seems to work in real-life and then perform various quick mental role-plays of selling my services.  My role-playing focuses mostly on lead qualification and getting a read on my prospective clients. I see myself saying paraphrased versions of what good salespeople have said to me. I also visualize scenarios from Chris Voss's book Never Split the Difference which has taught me a great deal about how to filter out false-positives in the sales process.

    For leadership, I visualize myself in some of the more exhausting moments I've encountered at work, but have avoided rehearsing big conflicts I've experienced at work at this job or others in the past. It's easy to go there, but I know that drama is best kept on TV. So instead, I visualize myself talking with teammates about difficult situations and explaining important context for big decisions we're making to the team at large. When I visualize myself talking, I'm mindful of my tone of voice and body language. I focus on communicating calm, understanding that as a leader I want to be the person people trust to work with in challenging situations and help them collaborate with others.

Have a real-life example of how you've used visualization to help you succeed? I'd love to hear it. Email me your experience at christian@cvonu.com