Visualising your own virtual board of advisors

I’ve always struggled with the concept of “visualisation”.

Sports psychologists talk about how athletes visualise, in detail, the thing they want to transpire when they get to the track or the pitch or the pool deck.

Visualisation owes something to Napoleon Hill, whose 1936 book Think and Grow Rich has been a staple for many who have dedicated themselves to self-development.

Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

To fully conceive and believe something, it’s necessary to visualise it in the mind’s eye as if it’s already happening, or better still, has already happened.

Another of the many techniques Hill put forward is the virtual board of advisors, or invisible counsellors: a group of role models who can advise us on a specific problem we’re having, all from within our own imagination.

For years, as I struggled with visualisation, my approach to problem-solving was to avoid it and hope it went away (if it was a real problem, it never did).

In recent times, as I’ve overcome a few drumlins and small hills and set my sights on some bigger and more mountainous of challenges in my life, my preferred approach has been to walk or to write: both are highly effective, in their own way.

(To write through a problem, I just start writing, freestyle, and see what comes up. To walk through it, just start walking. Both writing and walking are most effective after more than one hour of commitment — it’s in the second or even third hour, typically, that some solutions to the problem present themselves. In this way for a time Charles Dickens walked for three hours every evening in the London of the mid-19th century.)

The virtual board of advisors, or invisible counsellors, is different, and sometimes even more powerful.

It requires us to sit, with our eyes closed, and imagine the advice we might receive from several role models who we believe would give us sound advice. They can be alive or dead, or even fictional. All that matters is that you believe they have sound advice to impart.

You can try it for yourself.

  • Write down a challenge you’re facing
  • Write down a list of people who you see as role models
  • Commit to even five minutes closed eyes meditation
  • Visualise those people with you in a room
  • And just see what they have to say