In my last post, we stopped our dialogue with a commitment to return to the subject of visualization; specifically as it relates to setting Objectives. Let me start this edition of the Warrior Nation: SITREP with a a quote from one of the greatest success gurus of our time.
In Napolean Hill’s classic self-help best seller, Think and Grow Rich, Hill tells us “What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” As a Master Life Coach with The Burris Institute, I contend that one of the many ways you can create future success is through the technique of visualization. For example, an athlete can use this technique to ‘intend’ an outcome of a race or training session. By imagining a competition, complete with images of a “how you plan to perform”, the athlete is instructed to simply repeat that same performance committed to memory. While imagining these scenarios, the athlete should try to see the detail and the way it feels to perform in this desired state.
Likewise, when we set Objectives, we should start with this same technique. As I coach my clients, I have them work on Objective Setting; specifically around the 4 major areas of their life regarding love, health, wealth, and self-image. This process must include a mental image. Simply put, without a vision, your mind has no place to go.
Some of you might be skeptical of this idea, as it might sound a bit too touchy-feely. For those of you that are frequent readers of my blog, you probably are wondering how the Warrior Life Coach can possibly relate this new age idea to a military application. Maybe you are saying to yourself, “That sounds great for civilians, but how would this technique every relate to the military?”
I’m glad you asked!
In this recent blog I would like to share with you 3 common military applications of enhancing success through visualization. After reading these, see if you have a different vision of visualization.
The Old Man Sees All
Military commanders issue operations orders for every mission that a unit undertakes. Crucial to the initial development of courses of action and the subsequent issuance of these orders to
subordinate elements is what the U.S. Army commonly refers to as theCommander’s Intent. The U.S. Army’s Field Manual entitled Operations puts it this way, “The Commander’s Intent is a clear, concise statement of what the force must do and the conditions the force must establish with respect to the enemy, terrain, and civil considerations that represent the desired end state. The commander’s intent succinctly describes what constitutes success in an operation. It includes the operation’s purpose and the conditions that define the end state. It links the mission, concept of operations, and tasks to subordinate units. A clear commander’s intent facilitates a shared understanding and focus on the overall conditions that represent mission accomplishment. During execution, the commander’s intent spurs individual initiative. The Commander’s Intentmust be easy to remember and clearly understood. The shorter the commander’s intent, the better it serves these purposes. Typically, the commander’s intent statement is three to five sentences long.”
Giving units a way to visualize the end state of a mission seems vital to our fighting forces, and providing a common way to visualize success is achieved in this manner. Commander’s Intent provides clarity of purpose when the “fog of war” is present. Put another way, Intent should be the way the battle should end, regardless of what the opposing force puts in your way.
It’s All Greek to me
Another tool for issuing orders, prior to military missions, is to brief units with a sand table. The origins of the sand table can be traced to ancient Greece. Here, the sand table, or abax, as it was called, was a table covered with sand commonly used by students to perform studies such as writing, geometry, and calculations. Sand tables have been used for military planning and wargaming for many years as a field expedient model used for small-scale maps and terrain orientation exercises.
In peacetime, the sand table exercises help you wargame actions, emergencies, or any unexpected event that can be imagined. The main purpose of the sand table, however, is the replication of what soldiers can expect in the upcoming battle. It’s a virtual replication of the battlefield. Because potential, real-life consequences can be addressed at the sand table, cognitive recognition and focusing skills can be improved. This is an added benefit to developing junior leadership.
In combat; however, the sand table is used prior to missions to brief the warriors about to go into battle. Commanders build the sand tables to provide orientation, set physical expectations to be encountered, and give to the warriors as much real time intelligence that is possible in preparation for the mission they are about to execute. Upon completion of the order, commanders can use the sandtable to check the clarity of their orders by asking specific questions of the warriors to ensure their orders are understood. What could be viewed as drawing in the dirt by some, can be the difference in life and death for others in this adaptation of visualization. Still touch feely, are we?
Lights, Camera, Action!
If you had the chance to rehearse your most critical actions prior to real-time execution, how many of you reading this post would actually do it; meaning how many of you rehearse your Actions on the Objective? Salespeople; do you practice your delivery to ensure you smoothly articulate key points, while you prepare to handle every conceivable objection? As an accountant, how many of you double check your work prior to submitting your portion of a major customer’s tax return? As a project manager, how many times would you verify the time to complete delegated tasks to ensure the toal project completes on time and under budget?
In a world where results really matter, The Center for Army Lessons Learned tells us, “Rehearsals have proven to have a dramatic effect on battlefield results. Combat commanders from the Gulf War, Panama and Grenada have all strongly praised the value of detailed rehearsals.”
U.S. Army doctrine emphasizes to commanders and staff the need for rehearsals. Good rehearsals are not easy. They require a major work effort with sound preparation, discipline, and involve significant amounts of that precious commodity – leader time. The difficulty involved heightens the need to include rehearsals in all tactical training. The quality of a rehearsal at a training exercise is simply something else for the After Action Review, but the effects of training for and conducting rehearsals during wartime, may mean the difference between victory and failure, between a welcome-home parade, and writing letters home for those soldiers who died.”
Only about 5% of the population actually takes the time to write down their Goals and Objectives. Maybe that is why so few people actually are living the life that they would like to be living. Additionally, we know that researchers have demonstrated that memory recall is enhanced with the use of both pictures and words together, as opposed to using words or pictures independently. With that said, if you are going to take the time to write your Objectives down, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to enhance your chances of accomplishing those Objectives by visualizing the actual accomplishment own your own terms, in your own words, with your own vision? If it helps our fighting forces to achieve their Objectives by: visualizing success through creating intentions, creating small scale replicas of their planned successes, and actually practicing how they will accomplish these Absolute Musts of their lives, why wouldn’t you do the same for your Objectives?