The 2 ways you can apply this ability are:
- Learn new skills and information faster and increase retention.
- Learn how to excel even in the worst of circumstances.
Creative thinking can be used in sports, business and life to help you achieve your goals. More than 90% of elite athletes use their imagination to learn sports skills.
PODCAST: How to use your imagination to achieve your goals 6:52 mins
*See below for transcription
This podcast contains information from the book, The Achievement Zone.
The Achievement Zone: An Eight-step Guide to Peak Performance by Shane Murphy, Ph.D.
“The chief sports psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee from 1987 to 1994 presents eight simple steps that readers can use to improve their lives: focus, concentrate, energize, be consistent, stay calm, think like a winner, keep emotions in check, and think creatively.”
TRANSCRIPTION OF PODCAST
Welcome! This is Coach Kiomi and this Two-for-Two Tuesday, where on Tuesdays, you learn one to two tips that you can apply to two or more areas of your life. Today’s tip is creative thinking; how to use your imagination to reach your goals. The two ways you can apply this ability is: one, learn new skills and information; and two, excel in even the worst of circumstances.
More than 90% of elite athletes use their imagination to learn their sport skills. This creative thinking can be used in sports, in business and life to learn any skill more effectively.
I’m going to read a couple examples from the book, The Achievement Zone by Shane Murphy. Shane Murphy was the Chief Sports Psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee from 1987 to 1994.
Can imagination actually increase the speed with which you learn new skills? It can, absolutely. Shane took 30 golf students and divided them into three groups. One group, they visualized a successful putt. The second group imagined the putt, but they also imagined the ball narrowly missing the cup. And, the third group was just told to putt, they did not do any kind of visualization.
After just six days of this imagining, this creative thinking, the people who visualized the perfect putt, that perfect swing, improved 30%. The group that used no imagination, increased their accuracy only 10%. And the group that actually visualized the ball missing the cup decreased their accuracy by 21%. So our minds can help us or hinder us, depending on how you apply your visualization. Always visualize a positive outcome.
Another example of creative thinking that Shane used was with a large nuclear energy company; these employees had to be ready to handle emergency situations without hesitation. Every year, they had to take a recertification exam. Before consulting with Shane, this company only had their employees learn the information by studying the protocols and procedures. They then added a video showing the procedures from the operators point of view. And the employees could watch these videos at any time; and, they were taught how to visualize these emergency techniques as if they were actually doing them. As a result of using the creative thinking study method, these operators learned the material four times faster and retained three times as much information as those who did not use this method.
The second application of this skill, being able to use creative thinking to excel in even the worst of circumstances. I’ll read another example from Shane’s book. One of America’s greatest athletes, Al Oerter, he won the discus gold medal in four consecutive Olympics. And he mentally prepared each and every time, in depth. He strongly believed in the value of visualization. The way he would use visualization to prepare was to imagine the worst situations. Rain, pouring; the area, slippery; the conditions, atrocious and he had to go out and throw anyway. He would imagine himself throwing well, strongly, with good technique, despite the rain. Or, he’d imagine that someone else right ahead of him set a new world record. So for him to win a gold medal, he would have to set a new world record on top of that. He’d visualize all the circumstances that would go wrong and imagine responding to the challenge well.
With many of my clients I do the exact same thing. Whether it’s an interview or a public speaking engagement, I will have them imagine, the worst case scenario, some equipment breaking down, someone in the audience asking a question they don’t know the answer to, someone being hostile, someone throwing them some kind of curve ball, so they’re mentally, emotionally prepared. And I will have people identify, How do you want to be feeling emotionally? Strong, confident, calm, internally. How do you want to be talking? Clear, projecting your voice throughout the space in the room. How do you want your posture to be? How do you want your mind to be? etc.
Then, we will go through a mental rehearsal process; having them visualize, experience all of these aspects like it’s real. We encode all of these traits, all of these feelings, all of these thoughts so when they go to present, they’re mentally and emotionally prepared for the worst case scenarios and the best possible outcomes. So they’re already walking in feeling confident, equipped and ready to handle whatever comes their way.
This skill, this ability of creative thinking does take practice like any ability. I recommend you take some time this week; five to fifteen minutes, either every day, five times this week, or three times this week, to think of a situation where it may be challenging, and then identify all of the different ways where you will be handling it skillfully. Your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings, your posture; think it, feel it fully in your body on a scale of zero to ten, on an intensity, if you can get those feelings, those thoughts up to a ten, that’s fantastic — the stronger, the higher, the better.
Practice, practice, practice. Enjoy cultivating this skill of creative thinking. Know it’s something that you can learn; that you have the ability to master this skill.