A group of students are asked to think about a problem they’re dealing with and want to resolve. They’re divided in three groups.
The first group are sent home to think about it and come back a week later. The second group are invited to take time to carefully visualise in detail how the problem arose going over the incidents step-by-step.
The third group are invited to do a careful visualisation finding a positive outcome and how great they’ll feel.
After only one night, the second group were feeling better and having more ideas about solutions than either of the others. Even more so after a week.
Interesting huh? Cos popular wisdom suggests we shouldn’t spend too much time “dwelling on the past” and should be focussed on visualising success. This fits my own experience, especially after a tough gig: talking it through in some detail with a friend almost always lifts my spirits and improves my understanding. I go from thinking I’ve failed to realising some new learning. I think in part the patient re-examination creates more choices for how I’m interpreting what happened.
The Heath Brothers make another interesting connection, suggesting that this kind of mental stimulation is what happens when we hear a well-told, detailed story… and that’s why stories are so important in organisations.