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Home » The Power of Visualization: Ashanti Johnson at TEDxWillowCreek (Transcript)

The Power of Visualization: Ashanti Johnson at TEDxWillowCreek (Transcript)

Ashanti Johnson at TEDxWillowCreek

In this TEDx Talk, fitness instructor Ashanti Johnson shares her story of what happens when you allow your vision to reveal itself fully, unabridged.


So every morning as I was getting ready for work, I would have my favorite cup of coffee and I would enjoy it on my balcony. It was my ritual.

I would sit down and instead of looking out at the amazing view I had, I would look down at the parking lot and imagine that one day it would be my fitness gym’s parking lot.

It was 2009 and the height of the recession. And while everybody is seeking stability, on the level of their family and their job, I was having these intense visions of my potential and fitness.

And so… I mean they were crowding everything that I was doing. I could not stop thinking about fitness. And so, one day without approval from my family, my bank account, my landlord, I went ahead and I resigned.

And then next Monday I was out teaching boot camp; that was the parking lot. I was out teaching boot camps with 16 ladies at the beach.

You know, every single morning for a full year before I decided to make that decision to leave my job, I was out there visualizing. It didn’t stop after I made that decision. And in fact, it intensified.

I think because I was taking the steps towards the vision, it was being unfolded even more. Every vision would unfold just a little bit more and it was becoming real.

You know, I remember having this — this lucid dream where you’re asleep but you’re like awake also within the dream. And I was teaching a bootcamp class and after it was over I asked everybody to sit down and do what we do now — these mental Fitness seminars where we were talking about the things that makes us want to eat when we’re not even hungry.

You know, what are the feelings and the beliefs that go into the behaviors of driving past the on the way home even though we said today’s a day and we got the gym bag in the back. You know, the relationships that are disjointed possibly with family members, the failed marriages, the lost loved ones, you know those moments that you just don’t know what to do with. That’s what we would sit down and talk about that leads to numbing, that leads to the self-sabotage.

And so I taught that boot camp every single day for five months that summer. But then the winter was coming, and you know, had to figure that out.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO AS A NEW ENTREPRENEUR WITH NO RESOURCES? You turn to Facebook. Does anybody know a place that I could sub-lease? Sub-lease in Chicago and nothing came back for a full like couple of days. Matter of fact, a couple of weeks.

You know, it was in that third week that one address came back and this was not in the part of town that you just jump at. This was no part — this is the neighborhood affectionately called a terror town.

So you know, I don’t have any money. I am like, well I might be able to work this out. Let me go see, let me check it out. I was following the vision. I felt an alignment. And I drive up and the first thing that I noticed are these windows, huge windows on the outside that had been painted white and then somebody etched these amazing like swirls, this design. It looked like magical wind was blowing through. That was what the design looked like on the outside and that’s it, mm-hmm. This is interesting.

So I walk in and I’m approached by this little small woman like she’s small in stature about five feet, and there’s little tiny voice and she says, “Hi Ashanti, it’s so good to meet you. We’ve been waiting for you.”

I am like, “Okay.”

I walk in and oh my gosh you guys, it’s just amazing lot, it’s an old art gallery, 18 foot ceilings exposed brick, open floor plan. I don’t know if you guys can see this but there’s doors on the ceiling. It had a rock garden.

I am like “What is this place?”

I’m walking around and she couldn’t even show me the last room before I’m like how much you want for this place. And I’ll never forget she turns around and she says, “Well, Ashanti, how much can you afford?”

Who says that?  

But I’m panicking inside because I’m like I don’t – I don’t want to insult this woman. This is my space. I can feel it in my soul, like this is it. So I just blurted out, “I got $400.”

And she says, “Deal.”

So after I tackled this woman with a big hug, I just got on my grind you guys. That full year I was a one-woman force. I mean I taught every single class on this on a schedule, over 30 classes a week. I mopped the floors. I answered the phones. I did all the marketing, created posters, went to trade shows, went to people’s houses to personal train them. They come to my house, I would personal train them there.

I created mental fitness seminars, weight loss challenges. And by that second year I was smart enough to create a team. Lord… that’s when things really exploded.

You know, our Fitness classrooms were just packed, it was insane. You know, our boot camps went from 16 people to over 150 people. Thank you.

Our weight loss challenges went from four people to over 200 people. These are people that hit goal. We were starting a fitness movement on the south side and you know, to date we’ve helped Chicagoland lose over 20,000 pounds.

So one day I’m driving to the gym and I pull into the parking lot and I’m faced with an undeniable sight. That parking lot was just like the one that I envisioned all those years on my balcony. That vision came to reality.

And so my talk today is about the power of visualization. My ask of you is to start to put some intention on your visions. So let me ask you as a question. How many of you know exactly what you want out of this lifetime? Okay, there’s a few hands out there. So you guys are probably visualizing even if you don’t really know what that is, or even if you do.

But for the rest of us, how would you like to answer that question today? Let’s do it.


The first is you’re able to clarify what you want. It’s not the act of creation because you already know what you want. You just may not have created the space to allow it to come up. That’s what I was doing on that balcony. It came up. You create that vision or you allow the vision to come up.

But then you can also clarify — once you’ve clarified the vision — the energy that you’ve placed around that vision. There’s the vision but there’s an energy that you place around it. And if in fact it becomes or you notice it’s an energy that is negative, that’s tainting the vision, visualization provides the opportunity to root that out.

Okay so let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. I work in Fitness, right? People come to see me when they want to lose weight.

“Ashanti, I’m ready to lose this weight. I’m getting rid of this stomach. I’m going to do some things.” You know that’s what happens, right?

So I say “Cool. Let’s do it. How much weight do you want to lose?”

And all of a sudden the conversation shifts.

“Well, I mean I don’t want to be a slave to the scale. I just want to get healthy. I just want to feel better.” Right? You guys know what happens.

And so I just asked one question: Have you been the weight that you’re trying to go towards before? And nine times out of ten the answer is yes.

“Okay .Well what is that number?”

They do the math so they’ve clarified the vision. They know where they want to be .They’ve done the math to get that number and then all of a sudden again the conversation shifts.

“Well, I don’t know that I want to be that small again. I was younger. I didn’t have kids. You know I’ve got… I’m busy now. I’ve practice. I gotta go back to school. I got all these things to do. I can’t be in the gym like that.”

So they’ve created the vision. They know the number but then the energy around is “I can’t do it. I’m older now. My time is not available.”

So it becomes an opportunity for you to practice the mental fitness to root out that negativity so that you can fully go towards that vision that you want to create for yourself.

So how would you guys like to do it? It’s one thing to talk about it; it’s a whole other thing to experience it.

So I want you guys to close your eyes. In your mind’s eye, go to the place that you feel most comfortable, a quiet place, some place that you’re uninterrupted. You know my place was the balcony, some place, that you go when you just need to check out from the rest of the world. You can be totally yourself, it’s safe.

Go there in your mind’s eye and bring in as much detail to that space as possible. And I want you to have a seat. So if you’re sitting on the floor I want you to feel the hardwood below your feet. If you’re sitting on a cushion, feel that. If you’re sitting in a chair, feel the armrests. You’re sitting there.

How does the air feel in the room? Bring in as much detail as possible. Studies show that if you can quiet your mind, you’re more likely to visualize, so be there. Stay there. Breathe into that space.

And now I want to pick one area of your life that you would like to visualize the manifestation of it actually happening right in this moment. Pick one area of your life you would like to visualize.

Now if you’re not sure what that is, I’m going to give you three options. Just pick one.

The first area is on the level of physicality. I’d like to change my body, whether it be losing weight, whether it be gaining weight, gaining muscles. Maybe you have an injury that you would like to be healed completely. Maybe you have some dis-ease going on within your body that you’d like to be free from. Imagine yourself walking without the pain. Imagine yourself with the flat stomach. Imagine yourself there, fully go there.

The second area is choosing to resolve a conflict in your life. Maybe you have some strife with a family member, friends, or at work. Maybe you just like to be more punctual and have better time management skills and resolve that conflict. Fully feel that happening right now and bring in detail to it, giving that person a hug, whatever that might look like for you.

And the third area is going to be accomplishing a goal. Maybe you’ve started it or maybe it has not begun at all .But imagine it fully coming to pass; it is realized right now. Stay there. Continue to focus on your breathing and bring in as much detail to the manifestation of it happening right now. What does it look like as the goal has been achieved? What are you wearing?

Without the disease what do you do with your life, now that you’re free of it. It’s never coming back.

Visualize it. What are you doing now with that that you’ve now made amends with? My vision was having these people have a seat on the floor and as doing these mental Fitness.

50% of us are visual, meaning the whole other half of this room needs to feel the feeling of an emotion, joy, strength, support. My vision was everyone doing mental fitness, the room was hot because we had just worked out. It was a little wet in the room because we were sweating. The mirrors were steamed up.

As people are sharing their success stories you know they’re laughing and giving each other high-fives so people are drinking water. I saw that. And somebody was sharing something more vulnerable, the room got a little bit more quiet and more tight.

Bring in all of those experiences. Fully stay there. Bring in another person, the benefits from your vision that will make it more real for you.

Now breathe into that visualization. You are there. Breathe right now in that space.

Now is there any other energy that is tainting that vision, holding you back, what red tape might be there if any? Maybe you have none.

See if you can let that go and stick with the vision.

And now just for the sake of time, go ahead and twiddle your fingers, twiddle your toes and slowly open your eyes when you’re ready. I hope that you guys feel really accomplished because your mind was fully there and it knows no different from it actually happening.

You are a creator. Creators must create. So create. This visualization is going to help you to determine what you want and then the mental fitness will help you to root out any sort of negativity so that you can fully realize your vision.

Thank you.

For Further Reading:

Putting Visual Mantra to Work For You: Mandy Straight at TEDxMileHigh (Transcript)

Transcript: Thad Roberts on Visualizing Eleven Dimensions at TEDxBoulder

Les Brown: Set Your Mind To Win (Full Transcript)

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