I read an article yesterday (http://tinyurl.com/bn3muyf) that gave several tips on how to become a top performer, no matter what your field of expertise. I found the first tip most interesting, and that is to stare at who you want to become. They were not talking about gazing in admiration, but rather staring the kind of raw, unblinking absorbed gaze of a big game cat stalking its prey. Why you ask?
According to these “experts,” one of the keys to inflaming your motivation is to repeatedly fill your vision with vivid images of your desired self, to gaze at them every day. Studies indicate that even a brief connection with a role model can vastly increase unconscious motivation. For example, being told that you share a birthday with a mathematician can improve the amount of effort you're willing to put into difficult math tasks by 62%.
I’ve seen this phenomenon occur in professional tennis, where a country like Japan had no players at the top professional level, but once one breaks into the top fifty, it motivates many others to strive and achieve those same results or better. That is because they have a role model to focus on, a vivid picture of what success looks like (according to this article).
To me this explains why people have so many statues and pictures of the Buddha or Christ in their homes, because these are role models if you are striving to be a virtuous person.
It also explains, in my case, why I continually re-read books by authors I admire, and never get tire of them. I’m studying their technique, both consciously and unconsciously, while enjoying the products of their skill.
I’m now thinking of putting a few pictures up in my office of my favorite writers, but I have so many I’m not sure where to start. Steinbeck? Shakespeare? Truman Capote? Annie Proulx? Jim Grimsley? Colm Toibin? The list goes on and on. But I believe I will narrow it down and get a few.
Think of your role models as an energy source for your brain. Use pictures or, better, video. One idea: bookmark a few YouTube videos, and watch them before you practice whatever it is you wish to improve on, or at night before you go to bed.