The greatest gift you can give anyone is the opportunity and encouragement to imagine great things.


Child holding a medal for winning
Imagination gives you a destination. (Click to Tweet)

When I was a kid, in my imagination it was always the bottom of the ninth inning. The bases were always loaded. There were always two outs. We were always down by three runs.

And we always won! I always hit that home run!

I was always the player and commentator. In basketball, I could always here the voice saying to the millions of fans watching:

Down by one…six seconds left…McWilliams drives right…drives left…3…2…1…the shot is off…and it’s GOOD! It’s GOOD! The crowd goes wild.

We always won! I always made the shot.

If I was really shooting and I missed, I was always fouled. I always had a chance to win.

As a high school student, I no longer played baseball or basketball except for fun. I played golf.

I must have won the U.S. Open and Masters a thousand times every year. Often on the practice green, often on carpet of my college dorm room, but most often just in my head.

Imagination on paper

In study hall, I would spend time writing out record-breaking scores, just to get used to seeing myself shoot ridiculously low scores. Sometimes doubt would creep in and say, “That’s absurd, no one has ever shot that low before…and you’ve never even come close.” But I kept imagining. I kept stretching the limits of my belief to new levels, to new heights.

Throughout each of these imaginations, I felt all of the emotions. I felt the nerves as I prepared to hit the shot. I could feel the exhilaration as the putt fell and my arms triumphantly reached to the heavens.

The mind is so incredibly powerful. If you devote time and energy to using your imagination to visualize positive outcomes, you will eventually come to believe those things.

I believed I would one day face those putts for major championships. I believed I would do so in front of crowds of 35,000 people. And I had succeeded in my mind.

So, when I faced a 10-foot putt to win a local tournament, I did not feel any pressure. I had faced far more intense pressure in my mind and on the practice green.

A destination…

Imagination gives you a destination.

Until you know the destination and have seen yourself arriving there, you never will.

I never actually faced a putt to win a major championship. As I got older, my imagination died. I lost my dream. I write about that in-depth here and highly suggest you read it.

Today I encourage you to remember when you always won. Remember the dreams of your youth and apply them to the realities of today.

Then spend some time helping someone else imagine big things. It’s the greatest gift you can give them.

What do you need to spend some time imagining today? Who can you help to imagine great things.

13 thoughts on “When You Always Won

  1. Jon Stolpe says:

    I need to imagine time with my wife and kids. With Mother’s Day coming up, I need to quickly imagine a special day/gift for my wife.

    Seriously, great thoughts, Matt. I think it’s easy to let our imaginations atrophy as we get older. We forget to dream big. We forget to get past the impossible. We don’t allow so many boundaries to contain us.

    1. Steve Pate says:

      ahh you had to throw in the wife and kiddos…great call on that Jon. That is one area I need to be more imaginative with!

  2. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    imagination can be so powerful. I think so many folks talk themselves out of the possible because it feels to extraordinary.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is the sad thing about ordinary…it feels so comfortable.

      No one spends their childhood imagining a life sitting in front of the TV, scraping by financially, or being distant from our family.

      No…we imagine ourselves as active, as wealthy, as being great fathers and mothers. We are heroes, successful, and achievers.

      But you are right…those things seem too extraordinary to be real.

  3. Carol Dublin says:

    Perfectly timed, Matt. Been feeling too much of the day to day and needing to spend some time in my mind imagining what could be – thanks for the reminder.

  4. I too have found my images of winning pounded down by life. Aggh. Need to start visualizing success more.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      So you’ve had them before…that is good news Jim. You are ahead of most people who’ve never allowed themselves to go there.

      Find them again, my friend. Find old ones. Find new ones. Those dreams will take you to some amazing places.

  5. Kathy Leicester says:

    Reading Seth Godin’s “Lynchpin” just now, listen to this: “Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.” David Mamet
    I’m struggling now in a job, well, it’s toxic, and destructive, so a post on imagination is very timely and helpful.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Sorry about the job Kathy. I have a post coming up in ~3 weeks on that actually!

  6. Steve Pate says:

    As a kid, I had many imagination wins! And still today I fall on those thoughts before I do something, for example, when I’m bow hunting or fishing, I visualize how the shot will take place or how my fly is bouncing through the hole and the stealhead turns, snaps at my bait and the fight is on.

    More importantly, when I’m building something, I imagine how the kids, or my guest will use it. Then I get great satisfaction seeing those imaginations come to life

  7. Tom Dixon says:

    I imagine a time in the future when I can spend more time focused on coaching – and by thinking about what that would look like it gives me a picture of that destination. Great stuff today, Matt.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I like that Tom.

      Keep it on your mind…keep playing out what you want to happen and it will.

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