I have been fortunate to travel frequently. One of the ways that I get to travel is through business, which to me equals pleasure. I love everything about my business: teaching, competing, marketing, systems development. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be competition. As I have said before, I love competing – it is one of the greatest challenges a person can put themselves through. It is also one of the main vehicles of my traveling, as I will explain in a moment.
Most times that I travel for competitions, my flight and hotel are compensated by the event promoter. However, I usually choose to arrive to the fight destination months before the fight date. In fact, as soon as I get booked for a competition, that same night I will go and visit the competition site. During the course of my training, I will make regular visits. Over a 3 month period, I can make as many as 80 trips! The best part – I do not pay a dime out of my pocket!
What’s my secret to free travel? Why would I want to visit the same place 80 times? Well, the truth is…I am a vampire. At night, I am able to turn into a bat and fly across the world in search of prey. I travel a lot so that I don’t draw suspicion to myself when people end up missing. So if you want to be like me, just leave me your home address and I will bite you, free of charge. Just make sure you stay out of sunlight and churches.
Hopefully, you know that I’m joking. No, I’m not Edward from Twilight. Sorry to disappoint you Jorge Ayala 🙂 Back to the question, how do I travel for free? More importantly, why I would want to visit the same place 80 times before a competition? The answer is to develop comfort. When you go to compete (or for that matter, any type of challenge be it a meeting, test, presentation, etc.), the more familiar you are with the environment you will be competing in, the better. I talked about this yesterday in my video blog, which you can watch by clicking here! So by visiting my competition site, I can remove most of the stresses that come with being in new, unknown territory.
But how do I travel for free? The answer – with my mind. I use the power of visualization. Sorry if I disappointed you…you can stop packing your bags 🙂
Visualization is a very powerful tool. It is used by ALL great champions. Olympic athletes have coaches that teach them how to use visualization and even have guided visualization sessions. It is easily one of the most important ways of preparing yourself for a competition. People who use visualization are much more successful than those that do. Why? Because every time you visualize, it is adding a new experience.And the more experience you have, the more familiar you are with the activity, which makes you feel more comfortable and less stressed. Thus, allowing you to perform with higher levels of energy and technique.
Wait a second, aren’t visualizations imaginary? Yes. Then how can it be experience? Think about this for a moment – what did you have for breakfast this morning? Now, how did you describe that experience? What makes that description any more REAL than imagining you had an incredible breakfast at a 5 star resort? The fact of the matter is that once you have EXPERIENCED something, it becomes a MEMORY. And memory is only as good as the detail it holds. So if you do a great job creating a powerful visualization, your mind will not perceive the difference between it or a memory – it is just another experience. It is like when you experience a dream that feels so real, you are not sure if it actually happened.
So how do you create powerful visualizations? I try to take in every detail possible: the sights, sounds, smells, and temperature. I learn the layout of the building, where the bathrooms are, water fountains, competition space, cameras, audience and judges tables. I want to investigate this area like a crime scene detective. If you have the luxury of visiting the site beforehand – do it! If not, go on the internet and look for pictures and videos. Find similar events or activities and watch videos. How does the crowd sound? Where are the competitors warming up? What are the officials wearing? How do the mats look like? All of these things help create a strong visualization. There is never enough detail!
Once you have the physical layout perfectly in your mind, next is the opponent. If you know who you are competing against, great. Do your research, watch videos and try to dissect his style. Don’t focus too much on what he does – as that can be counterproductive. People’s styles can change and if you plan your fight expecting to face a certain opponent, it can backfire. Instead, just be aware of what he CAN do. Focus more on what YOU are going to do to him. If you don’t know your opponent, no big deal. Just create a random person, flesh him out like a real character. Make him appear as a person you would encounter in a match. It doesn’t matter if he does not exist – all you want is that the memory to be real, so that you may TRICK your mind into thinking it was REAL.
Know that you have your opponent pictured, you can work through your whole day. Find a comfortable, quiet place to lie down and close your eyes. Relax your body, getting into a deep trance without falling to sleep. Just focus on your breathing for a few minutes, keeping your mind blank. If thoughts pop up, observe them as an outsider, and let them float away. Once your are relaxed, you can begin your visualization. You want to try and visualize every aspect of the competition day: waking up, having breakfast, driving to the venue, registering for the event, meeting people, warming up, walking out to the mat, competing, winning the match, celebrating with your team, going home, and finally going to bed. It should be like you lived an extra day that you just created in your mind. So real that you can barely distinguish the difference. The key is in the details.
One last secret to a powerful visualization – emotion. We never forget memories with powerful emotions. Many people forget the 1000th time time they have kissed someone, but nobody forgets the first! Why? Emotions! For that first kiss, you are very nervous, excited, scared – there is a cascade of feelings rushing through your body. As humans, we are very emotionally charged, so make sure you include your feelings in your visualization. Are you nervous before your match? How happy would you be when you win? The more emotions you put in, the stronger your visualization.
So use the power of visualization to give yourself the advantage of experience without ever living your home. Becoming a champion starts inside before outside.