Visualising Success Most Likely to Result in Failure

Most people my age will be familiar with the “truism” that to succeed you have to continually visualise success—or “keep your eye on the Princess”, as one of these courses keeps telling you (us). At least three times in my working life I have been required to attend compulsory programmes run by my employers that were based on this premise.

The longest programme or course along these lines that I had to attend was the Lou Tice “Investment in Excellence” package. This was run over about five weeks and from memory we had to attend two days full-time a week. The basis of the Lou Tice method is about focussing on what you want to achieve and NOT thinking about things that you don’t want to achieve.

Somewhere in my junk room are the dozen or so VHS tapes that every attendee was given who attended the “Investment in Excellence” course. From memory it cost my employer at the time about $1,000 per attendee to send us all along and this was back around 1985.

Needless to say I have never watched the programme tapes again since attending the facilitated training.

There are many other similar programmes and most of them are just as expensive to undertake.

Well, based on the latest research, it seems you should save your money—visualising success doesn’t work. In fact, worse than not working, the latest evidence indicates that visualising success is more likely to end in failure in achieving those goals than if you just let things happen at a natural pace.


Kappes and Oettingen ran a number of experiments over a lengthy period of time and the outcome was that in almost every experiment the groups ‘visualising success’ performed worse than those not thinking too much at all about succeeding.


So. That explains it then! This is quite obviously the reason why most things I have tried to achieve over the last 20 years (or so) have failed. I should not have been working so hard on visualising success.


Got it wrong again and didn’t find out until I was 58.

Have to stop visualising success now and see how that works out—although it could be too late. Smile