Envisioning Success.. or Failure

There's evidence our brains mix together real imagery with mental and emotional baggage that effect performance. Slugger Mickey Mantle is reported to have once said after hitting a long home run, "I just saw the ball as big as a grapefruit." In contrast, poor hitters may see the baseball as small. It’s not just out of reach for them physically but emotionally as well.

A Purdue University study tested the kicking ability of more than 20 athletes who do not play football. They were asked to estimate the size of the goal posts before and after each of 10 attempts to kick a field goal. The more successful the athlete, the more likely they were to overestimate the size of the posts and underestimate the distance.

Success biased the kickers’ perception of the difficulty of their task. Professor Jessica Witt says, “Before you kicked, you really didn’t know what your abilities were going to be.’’ In past experiments, she found the same effect with softball players and golfers. University of Virginia psychologist Dennis Proffitt has put together tests that show the effect holds true when it comes to dangerous situations.

Which are you imagining in your life--success or failure?

Stephen Goforth