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A Blog by Art Dykstra


From My Pad to Yours is about leadership and other topics, and is written by Art Dykstra, Director of the Trinity Consulting Group.

Envisioning Your Future

by Art Dykstra | Nov 01, 2017

The end of winter and arrival of early spring ushers in a period known to many as “March Madness.” This refers not to Caesar’s Ides of March or Alice’s March Hare, but, of course, the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournament.

While watching one of the games, I was struck by what I saw. The game was very close, the teams evenly matched. During the final minutes of the second half with the game tied, one team’s guard drove the lane to the basket. To prevent an easy layup, the other team’s forward hacked at the shot, getting a piece of the ball and lot of the guard. The referee called the foul. As always, players from both teams lined up along each side of the lane, and the player who was fouled stepped to the free-throw line. But, before taking the ball, he went through the motions of shooting the free throw, visualizing the ball leaving his hands and going through the hoop. Teaching players to visualize their shot is rather commonplace today, and, indeed, many players and coaches claim remarkable results from the mental practice.

It’s my bet that the best leaders visualize their actions—and the outcomes—before taking them. They review what they’re going to do before they do it, consider the scope of the action, calculate its impact, consider the follow-through in terms of consequences and ramifications, and review the process from release to implementation.

Visualization is a relatively simple and common technique for preparing for the future. What’s not so common is the ability to envision numerous potential outcomes while still focusing on making your desired future a reality. A chess player can look ahead several moves to determine which move puts her in the best possible position to deal with all those options. Execution, in this case, is comparatively easy.

In the basketball analogy, however, the free-throw shooter must prepare for what to do if he misses—if the rebound goes to the other team, who do I cover? If we get the rebound, where do I go? If I get the rebound, do I pass, shoot, dribble or hold? At the same time, he’s preparing for multiple possible outcomes, he’s focusing on making the shot.

That’s the hard part for any leader, isn’t it? Having the confidence in yourself to perform and achieve success while knowing what to do if you fail.

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