And there I was about to take the stage that would have terrified me 15 years prior, sharing the secrets to my success with a room full of professionals, and it hit me! My superpower isn’t networking or even my professional skills, it’s the Power of Visualization, and you can build it too!
I recently spoke at an organization I helped get started over 15 years ago, WIFS Portland Metro, with a handful of other women I now call friends. We wanted to provide opportunities for women in the financial industries to build their businesses, grow their skills, make new connections, and give additional support to our clients; read Once Upon a Dream for the full scoop. As I prepared for my workshop, I reflected upon all that has passed over these last 15 years. While I’m well known for my professional and networking skills, I realized I leverage the super-power available to all of us that provides the momentum under all I do, the power of reflection and visualization. That magic duo led to the start of WIFS Portland Metro all those years ago. In addition, the visualization of the organization’s future fueled our efforts over the years and inspired others to take up the cause after we moved on to other initiatives.
As your network is your key to success, finding ways to make others feel good about themselves, heard, and remembered goes a long way. More times than I can count, people have told me, “Wow, you have such a great memory!” I’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s not my memory that sets me apart. It’s the power of reflection and visualization.
The Magic Duo: Reflection & Visualization
You’re fully present when you’re in a meeting: adding ideas and opinions, feeling gut reactions, and actively participating. It’s like you’re the main character in a movie. When you’re observing, you become an audience member. You step out of the spotlight and take a third-person role. Your intuition, true feelings, and perspective come in the stillness of reflection.
According to Carol Sanford, “self-observation is a person’s ability to isolate aspects of themself from immersion in their ongoing life, standing apart to see the sources of their behavior and thinking and to note the effects they have on others. Observing themself, they are in a divided state; they are both the observer and the observed.”
Stepping into observer mode is the first part of the process, and the second part is about spending time with those observations, turning them over in your mind, and searching them for hidden value and great ideas. You can connect the dots, correct your thinking, and instill curiosity about people and situations. It allows one to see different ways of handling a relationship or situation. Visualizing the following conversation and the future of your relationships, work, and life is where the true magic happens.
Suzie Hall, Founder, and CEO of four companies, shared in a Women’s Million Dollar Conversation that she leveraged the power of reflection to 100x her business. After reflecting on how to scale her business, she realized that if she focused on landing projects 10x the size, she could successfully scale. However, the true power came when she began visualizing that future and started a daily visualization routine. Suzie pushes pause to find her center, clear her mind and allow her best thoughts to become conscious. Visualizing and focusing on what she can control, doing her best, and then surrendering the rest made her successful. She shared, “Everything starts with our thoughts. Once I learned to stay in my genius zone and that I didn’t need to control everything, it was truly freeing.”
These days Suzie focuses on building relationships and cultivating high-functioning teams to handle various aspects of her four businesses. An improbable future had she continued living her life through to-do lists on the “hamster wheel” she once called home.
Unlock the Power for Yourself
In today’s busy life, you must be intentional with your time and ensure that your efforts align with your priorities. The first step is to ensure you have the space to reflect and visualize, i.e., no back-to-back meetings. Next, you need an intentional calendar by focusing on your priorities for the year, month, week, and day, having space between your planned items to check in with yourself and gain as much from each meeting as possible.
I recommend color-coding your calendar based on how you use your time. For instance, you could create categories for team meetings, project work, client meetings, networking, professional development, personal development, and volunteering. As you color-code your activities, it will quickly become apparent how aligned or misaligned your efforts and intentions are. For example, suppose your goal is to meet more like-minded professionals who serve a similar target market. In that case, your calendar will highlight your priority on networking with more time dedicated to that effort. If you want to prioritize building new skills, your calendar should show that as a priority over other items. Often professionals will find that their plate is overflowing, and other things, such as volunteering, take up a large portion of their week. At this point, something has got to give! I’m not here to tell you what to prioritize, only that you have a set amount of time to prioritize between personal time, business time, and family time. The unfortunate truth is you can’t expand one area without minimizing another, so be aware of the trade-offs you’re making and ensure they align with how you visualize your life in addition to your workday.
The best news is you’re not stuck with the calendar you have today. Many professionals have complete or semi-autonomy over their calendars. While you may have team meetings you can’t move, you can be more thoughtful about what you prioritize in the time available and create time for reflecting and visualization. I’ve found that starting and ending my days with both and between every scheduled meeting helps me stay at my best. I plan enough time to refresh my coffee or tea or head for a biological break undistracted. Reflection and visualization don’t have to take hours, just undistracted moments to replay conversations and visualize new opportunities. Consider scheduling 25 and 50 minute meetings vs. the standard 30 and 60-minute meetings so that the reflection time is built into your schedule automatically.
After every interaction, I purposefully slow down to reflect and cement the small but essential details in my memory. This habit has been my secret weapon, bookmarking every conversation. I take good notes and a small amount of time to think about what happened: and replay the event in my mind. I check in with how I felt about the interaction, what hidden details I may have missed, what connections I can now see that I couldn’t during the meeting, and where I see the future of this relationship/conversation going.
In the past, when I noticed something felt off in my day or week or if I was second-guessing myself, it was because I was moving from one item to the next without pausing or checking in to see if I was honoring my priorities and values. The time I take for reflection sets the stage for my success. Reading through my notes and replaying conversations helps my brain register how I felt about each meeting and where I visualize each relationship going. As a result, I can remember more details and revisit the conversation, so I show up more authentically in the next meeting.
So how do you want to show up at your next meeting? If you want to 10x or 100x your results, assess your calendar to create time for reflection and visualization. Before you know it, people will tell you what a great memory you have too.