Provision #256: Visualize the Flow

Laser Provision

With this Provision we get specific about how to make our transitions good, valuable, and welcome. The advice is simple: better pictures make better transitions. We all have the ability to think in mental images. We don’t all use that ability constructively. This Provision tells you how.

LifeTrek Provision

One of our readers replied this week with the following request: “I have been familiar with the 80-20 rule for some years now, but I haven’t yet read much literature on the practical side of it • like how to notice when it will likely occur, how to hasten the period of “Kairos,” and how to live one’s life during this period. Can you provide some more readings or recommend articles or books?”

In other words, “OK, for two weeks you’ve been telling us how transition can be a good, valuable, and welcome part of life. I’m persuaded! Now tell me how to make it so.” My reply to this reader and my commitment to you are to provide additional readings, articles, and books right here in Provisions. Before we’re done, and if you stay with the entire series, you’ll have a good grasp of how to make it so, with specific strategies and techniques. That is, after all, what LifeTrek coaching is all about.

My review of the literature suggests that it speaks more to the what and the why of transitions and that it’s a bit weak on the how. The what and the why can shift our attitude and understanding, but they may not provide enough assistance to actually change our behavior. How do we make transitions work for us rather than us work for transitions? One technique is to visualize the flow.

Visualization is the process of seeing images instead of saying words. There’s no real mystery to how it’s done. Say something to yourself, right now, that you have to get done in the next 24 hours. That’s saying the words. Now close your eyes and visualize your getting it done. Where are you? What are you doing? Who’s with you? How are you feeling? Move beyond the words to the images themselves. Once you see the picture, as though the back of your forehead was a movie screen, you’ve done visualization.

Still having trouble? Then think of a red rose. Now think of an infant taking his or her first steps. Or try a steaming cup of tea on a cold morning. If you can see those pictures, then once again you’ve done visualization. It’s no more mysterious than that.

What is mysterious is how visualization can impact our performance as we move through transitions and other stressful times. One exercise that I like to do with my coaching clients is to have them lay down on the floor (yes, we do this right while we’re on the phone together), take a few deep breaths, bring their feet together, and close their eyes.

Then I have them visualize that their feet are encased in solid concrete. It weighs a couple hundred pounds or kilograms, at the very least. Then they try to lift their legs up from the ground. Once they set them back down (if they even got them up), I have them visualize that someone cracks open the concrete, releases their legs, and ties an enormous bundle of helium balloons to their ankles. It’s so enormous that they wonder if the balloons might just carry them away. But they don’t. So they again try to lift their legs off the ground. Guess what? Invariably, their legs rise effortlessly to a 90 degree angle. Then I have them set their legs down and release the biodegradable balloons in celebration and wonder.

That simple exercise, which I encourage you to try on your own, communicates the powerful lesson of this Provision. Our mental pictures make a difference. Perhaps even more profoundly than words, pictures have the ability to lift us up or bring us down. And never is that more important than when it comes to transitions. The better our pictures of before, during, and after, the better our transitions will go.

One of the beauties of this technique is that it doesn’t matter whether we are the proactive drivers of transition or the reactive passengers. Visualizing the flow works equally well in both instances. It assists us to not only accept and survive transition, but to enjoy and triumph over them as well.

What makes a good picture? Not necessarily a happy ending. When our company goes out of business after we’ve been there for 27 years, we may not visualize a happy ending. But we can visualize the flow of life before, during, and after. And the more clear and vivid the pictures, contemplated often and long, the better. Fuzzy pictures pondered only briefly do not have the power to make our transitions good, valuable, and welcome. Lucid pictures brought to mind recurrently can make all the difference in the world.

First, the process of bringing these pictures to mind relaxes us. If we sit still, take our time, and slow down our breathing while we call the pictures to mind, they can evoke a relaxation response that is often absent during transitions. Second, the process prepares and guides us. Clear pictures are compelling. They generate positive and productive action. Even when things turn out differently than we imagine, visualizing the flow enables us to roll with the punches. We end up being more on top of things instead of things being more on top of us.

Better pictures make for better transitions. Set aside at least a short time each day to see at least one picture of the before, during, or after. Then set aside a longer time, at least once a week, to explore your mental pictures in some detail and to make them come alive. Before long your life transitions will be fond milestones and memories.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.

Really enjoyed the free group coaching call today • finally to assign a voice to the person whose weekly words of wisdom I so look forward to! I’m looking forward to next week’s call and doing my “homework” too!

Although there doesn’t seem to be a word in English that derives from “Kairos”, I think it is well-captured by the English expression “high time” as in “It’s high time we did something about that garbage.”

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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