The old saying goes: "If you can dream it, you can do it."

I think that's more than just an axiom. I believe that visualization is one of the most powerful means of achieving personal goals. To have an idea or dream, and then to see how you can make it happen, helps shape your plans and defines your goals more clearly.

Many people, especially athletes and celebrities, have discovered the amazing power of visualization and have used it to enhance their careers and achieve their goals and dreams.

Actor Jim Carrey wrote a check to himself in 1987 in the sum of $10 million. He dated it Thanksgiving 1995 and added the notation, "for acting services rendered." He visualized it for years, and in 1994, he received $10 million for his role in "Dumb and Dumber."

Oprah Winfrey openly used visualization techniques on her talk show. She often talked about the power of the subconscious mind and goal-focusing techniques. Oprah said, "The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams."

Nobel laureate Jonas Salk was asked how he went about inventing the polio vaccine. His reply: "I pictured myself as a virus or a cancer cell and tried to sense what it would be like."

When I was 13 years old, I dreamed about owning a factory. Then when I actually owned the factory, I visualized selling the largest and most prestigious account in town -- General Mills. And I finally did it.

One of the most well-known studies on creative visualization in sports occurred when Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their physical and mental training ratios:

• Group 1 received 100 percent physical training.

• Group 2 received 75 percent physical training and 25 percent mental training.

• Group 3 received 50 percent mental training and 50 percent physical training.

• Group 4 received 75 percent mental training with 25 percent physical training.

Group 4 had the best performance results, indicating that mental training or visualization can have significant measurable effects on biological performance.

Similarly, for many years Russian gymnasts dominated the Olympic Games. The Americans trained hard, but they couldn't compete with the nearly flawless Russians. It wasn't until many years later that the Americans and others discovered the Russians used sports psychologists to help with mental training techniques. They spent a few hours each day visualizing their routines with perfect landings, twists and jumps. Today, most top athletes use the power of visualization to perform at their peak.

People who soar refuse to sit back and wait for things to change. They visualize that they are not quitters. They will not allow circumstances to keep them down.

Mackay's Moral: If seeing is believing, visualizing is achieving.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail