I taught my MBA class yesterday. At one point, I was trying to sell my students on the power of visualization, and out of the blue, I came up with this old story about me and water skiing.
It was 1876. OK, it was more like 1976 (which is just as long ago). I was on David The Drug Smuggler's ski boat in Saguaro lake in Arizona. There were a bunch of people on the boat, mostly biding their time with Coors beers while waiting for their next cocaine injection. Meanwhile, they had to do something, right? Like drink and water ski.
I was too chicken to ski at first, but I watched everyone intently. I watched how they managed themselves in the water before the boat began to move. I watched how they gripped the ski rope and how their skis were positioned. Tips up, so to speak. I watched, when the boat began to accelerate and pull them forward, how they had to resist having their arms pulled too far forward. I watched how they leaned back, and I imagined how they put pressure on their legs towards the skis, to keep them steady. I not only watched, but I imagined how it felt to have my arms in the right place, to keep the skis steady, to lean back.
Towards the end of the day, when everyone had their turn on the skis, I surprised everyone by saying I wanted to give it a try. Then I surprised them all again by saying I wanted to try the slalom ski first. Usually people try two skis first and graduate to slalom. But I could only manage to imagine myself on one ski, not on two.
I got up right away. I skied for a while. I had a blast. I also had big bad splash-downs and experienced my very first "Saguaro Douche." This happens when your butt goes down and skims the water and you hold on to the rope way beyond salvation. As with most things in life, letting go is the only solution. Until then, you just get filled up with lake scum. Let that be a lesson to you all.
But, it was my detailed imagining of the act of skiing that made it so easy for me. And my acting out of this whole scene in front of my class that forever put me on their crazy American teacher list. I left out the drug smuggler, cocaine and the douche part, however. Those are too hard to reenact.
Many years later, I went boating with my boyfriend o' the month and my friend Kelsie to another Arizona lake. This time, everyone was knee boarding. It's kind of like surfing while kneeling. No prayers are required. But it is definitely not easy. You have to lie on top of the knee board with your arms forward and the ski rope positioned at the center top of the board. Then, as the boat begins to move, you have to pull on the ski rope and push with your elbows to scoot up onto your knees on top of the board. The board is really unstable and so is the rope. (I'm pretty sure I am too, but don't tell anyone.)
I did the same thing as I had done 325 years earlier. I watched everybody else. I watched what made people fail and I watched what made people succeed. And when I did it for the first time, I did it perfectly.
My boyfriend got mad. He was sure that I had really knee boarded before, but lied and told him I hadn't. Like I have time to figure shit like that out.
You'll be glad to know that I ditched him. But not until after he guilted me into flying to Napa Valley for the weekend ("But, you can't break up with me now, I have nonrefundable tickets!" Shite. Can you believe I fell for that?), where he so gracefully shit in the B&B bed because he couldn't make it down the hall to the communal bathroom in time. It was not my idea of the perfect mud spa, I want you to know. But I didn't watch how he managed to shit in the bed, because I figured it wasn't something I wanted to reenact anytime in the near future.
So, I suppose this means that if I can imagine myself into water skiing, I can imagine myself wealthy, imagine myself in perfect health, imagine myself slim and trim, imagine myself happy and mentally sound.
But first, I have to find people who are like that, and stare at them, intensely.