I’m going to call B.S. on an idea that has made few people rich and many people miserable: “The conceive it, believe it, it will be yours.”
Let’s begin with what is true and useful. Imagination is one of your most powerful tools as a leader. Many animals use tools and solve problems. Humans uniquely imagine a rich future state which does not exist, and then create it.
Regularly investing time to reflect and visualize the future is a practice of all successful leaders. It’s difficult to lead people until you can articulate a compelling future that is worth the effort.
Your imagination is a strong ally for self-leadership. There is no leadership of others until you lead yourself.
The “conceive it, believe it, it will be yours” fails because the focus is on results, rather than actions. Thinking “I will be rich because I will attract money” and “Everyone will admire me” and “I am super confident” is just fantasizing. And frankly, it’s selfish.
Instead, focus your imagination on actions that will lead to positive results:
• Imagine yourself doing the work necessary to complete that project.
• See yourself engaging in that tough conversation.
• Visualize yourself persisting through repeated tries to accomplish a goal.
• Imagine yourself rehearsing the presentation and making adjustments to strengthen it.
• Visualize a positive morning getting through the toughest task of the day before 10am.
• See yourself exercising and walking past the candy machine without a glance.
• Imagine yourself intently listening to that difficult customer and engaging with them to find out how to improve your service or product.
• Mentally walk through how you could serve people better, or a larger number of people.
The key is to visualize the actions, and trust that these actions take you to the results you want. Unselfish people who take action and focus on serving others will be rewarded.