Dear Chris, Jenn, and Vanessa,

There’s an exponentially expanding abundance of electronic/print resources and advice to living a happy and successful life. But as a lifelong personal growth and leadership student, I can easily point to visioning or imagery as the core principle from which all others emanate, like ripples of water growing out from the center. 

Visioning is where my personal effectiveness quest began. In 1974, when I was just starting my commission Culligan sales job, someone recommended I read Claude Bristol’s book, TNT: The Power Within You. This book sparked such an intensity of energy, excitement, and profound new awareness that I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep for almost a week. Even now, as I thumb through the book, and recall that turning point in my life, a shiver runs up my spine.

Published in 1954, this was Claude Bristol’s second book. His first, which I read later,  was The Magic of Believing. Both books were based on his decades of searching for a deeper understanding of, and applying, what he called “mind stuff”. This work came from his experience as a journalist, studying and reporting on the full spectrum of spiritual and religious movements (especially fringe groups), building his own wealth and career as an investment banker, and his study of thousands of books on “the science of thought”.

Here are just a few of the many key passages and ideas from TNT that started my self-leadership juices flowing (the emphasis shown is his):

“Picture the force! It is the explosive force of a mental picture of what you want in life, given by you to your subconscious, touched off by faith in yourself and faith in God. Whatever you picture, within reason, can come true in your life if you have sufficient faith in the power within! That’s your TNT — a mental picture of what you want and the faith that you can and will get it . . . we do not think in words. We think in pictures!

The universal language is feeling . . . this creative power operates like a magnet. Give it a strong, clear picture of what you want and this creative power starts to work magnetizing conditions about you — attracting to you the things, resources, opportunities, circumstances and even the people you need, to help bring to pass in your outer-life what you have pictured . . . what you picture in your mind, if you picture it clearly and confidently and persistently enough, will eventually come to pass in your life . . . there is a universal law in the mental realm, ‘like attracts like’.”

TNT awakened me to the enormous power between my ears that I wasn’t using. I began reading many books and magazine articles on these topics and I attended presentations and workshops given by many of the leading authors, trainers, and speakers. I bought dozens of audio tapes on this and related “mental attitude” topics.

A strong early influence was personal development speaker and author, Zig Ziglar’s, audio tapes and book, See You at the Top. In his book, he wrote about the importance of “seeing the reaching”. He went on to state, “The world has a way, not only of stepping aside for men or women who know where they are going, but it often joins and helps them reach their objective.”

Over the next few decades, I used these approaches to build a successful sales and management career, quit smoking and biting my fingernails, lose weight, get into better physical shape, develop my writing/speaking skills, build two successful training and consulting firms, and help hundreds of thousands of people around the world with “mere words.”

Through visioning, I even changed from being a “sickly kid” (I would miss weeks of school each year) to not missing a single work day because of sickness for a period of nearly 20 years. I blew my record with a number of ailments, unprecedented depression, and “sick days” in 1993 when the picture of my career future was the foggiest it had ever been. Once the picture of my preferred future cleared up, so did my attitude and health. Our thoughts become things and really do manifest themselves in our lives.

Whether you think your world is full of richness and opportunity, or bleakness and despair — you’re right. It’s exactly like that — because that’s your point of focus. By focusing there, you turn your expectations into reality. What you see for yourself is intertwined with the context of your life. That context attracts the people you associate with, your discipline and habits, and determines your perceptions of “reality.” 

Visioning creates passion. The more clear and compelling the vision, the stronger the passion. And the more likely you are to hang in there during the inevitable downs and defeats as you reach for your dreams. Visioning or picturing my preferred future has been my greatest source of energy and focus.

I fervently want to see you have a happy, satisfying, and very successful life. My vision for you has hopefully helped you get a good start. Your vision for you will determine the quality of your journey and where you finish.