Like a million other people, Major James Nesmeth dreamed of improving his golf game from his usual score in the 90s. Circumstances forced him to quit the game completely for seven years–never teed it up, never swung a club. And yet, the next time he played he shot an incredible 74!
Nesmeth did think about the game during those seven years…In fact, that’s probably what saved his life. You see, Nesmeth spent those years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. confined in a cage that measured approximately four and a half feet high by five feet long.
For most of his imprisonment, he saw no one, spoke to no one and could barely move. At first, he spent most of his time praying for his release. But as the weeks dragged on, he realized he would lose his sanity or even his life if he didn’t keep his mind active. He learned to visualize.
Nesmeth decided to play golf. He pictured his favorite golf course and played 18 holes every day. He dreamed every detail, from his clothes to his golf clubs to all the sights and smells of the course. He imagined different weather conditions, different cup placements, different seasons. He held the club and experimented with different grips. He saw his swing improve. He watched the ball sail down the fairway, and he rejoiced as he sank every putt.
Nesmeth took his time, every day, to “play” a full round. Four hours a day, seven days a week, for seven years. All this time, his physical condition was deteriorating, as you could see in the horrifying pictures taken of the POWs as they were freed. But this guy kept his mind in tip-top shape. And the first time he played after his release, he shaved 20 strokes off his game–all because of the power of visualization.
Visualization allows you to see your ideal tomorrow. It doesn’t do the planning and it doesn’t anticipate the obstacles. It gives you a real idea of what is possible, if only you want it badly enough. The journey may not be simple, but it’s worth every mile if you remember where you started and have a clear destination in mind.
Mackay’s Moral: Vision is not so much what you think as how you think. If you can visualize it, you can make it happen.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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