A Navy SEAL on Visualization

I am not sure I’m one of those “Everything happens for a reason” people but what about coincidence? Coincidences happen sometimes and it leaves me scratching my head. One of those times happened just last week.

I wrote an article last week about the power of Visualization. Shortly after that I tuned in to one of my favorite podcasts, Mike Drop Podcast, and Mike and his guest started talking about Visualization! This was an older episode and I’m not sure how I ended up listening to this particular one at that this particular time, but that makes the “coincidence” even more bizarre.

Mike Ritland is a former Navy SEAL, a best selling author, and the founder of Trikos International and the Warrior Dog Foundation. He specializes in training K9’s for military and law enforcement, and he provides retirement for military dogs who have served our great country. He also has a GREAT podcast!

On this particular show Mike was talking to Clark Impastato, who is also a former SEAL, and Clark mentioned that he had used visualization in his training as a SEAL. Mike’s response was fascinating, and I’ve included the transcript below! I’ve modified it slightly because Mike was speaking about it and speaking doesn’t always translate to readable text, but I have been careful to protect the integrity of what Mike said.

Mike Ritland on Visualization

“You know it’s interesting you bring up the visualization piece. It’s something that I talk about with dogs a lot.  You know a lot of times people come to me and they say, “I just can’t get my dog to do this” or whatever. And visualization is such an important and powerful component to our lives and I don’t give a [ __ ] what you’re talking about.

I mean we did it when I was on the swim team growing up.  We would all lay in the locker room, like we’d all be scattered out like a bunch of dead bodies. The lights are off and the coaches in there walking us through, like walking up to the blocks.  You know what it sounds like, what it smells like, you what know what the rough blocks feel like on your bare feet like that.  Every intricate detail and walk you through a race where you crush your personal record. 

The impact that has, I don’t think people that haven’t done it or don’t; a lot of people don’t realize how incredibly powerful that is!  And just like you said, I don’t care if it’s going through SEAL training or mastering how to bake a [ __ ] cake. If you visualize yourself just destroying it and crushing whatever goal it is, and do it over and over and over it becomes part of you.

For anybody listening, if you’re not a believer try it!  When you when you lay in bed at night spend 10 to 15 minutes visualizing.  It’s a good way to turn your brain off or into a different mode where you get ready to sleep.  It is beneficial and again, whatever goal is that you have, [visualization] is powerful and I do the same thing with a lot of stuff.  It’s neat to hear you had kind of a similar experience you know getting ready to join.”

Interesting huh? There are a couple of things I’d like to point out about Mike’s comments.

When he’s talking about the swim team coaches leading them through the visualizations when he was in high school, notice how they made it as real as possible. He says they are “walking up to the blocks”; “what it sounds like”; “what is smells like”; “what the rough blocks feel like on your bare feet”; “every intricate detail”; “going through a whole race and crushing your personal record”.

The only thing I may specifically add there is to bathe it in emotions. How do you feel emotionally walking up to the blocks? How does it feel to crush at PR? I wrote about all the details in the previous article so be sure to read that one too if you haven’t already.

I’ve included Mike’s podcast below. To hear him talk about Visualization go to 38:19. Don’t listen if you can’t handle some language. Mike is raw and doesn’t hold back. 🙂


In the last article we talked about high performing, successful people who attribute visualization to their success. We can add Mike Ritland to that list. I’m going to write about the science behind why visualization works so stay tuned. In the meantime I’m going to quote Mike one more time, “if you’re not a believer try it!”. 🙂

Visualization is #3 in The Big 4 of Mental Toughness which I teach in a webinar and in person. If you want to go deeper check the schedule and get signed up for a webinar or live event. Of if you want to go deeper sign up for a free strategy session with me here!

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