Have you noticed your self talk? Is it predominantly positive or negative? For most people it’s negative. Over 80% of our thoughts are negative, according to one study.
We beat ourselves up constantly over little things that don’t matter. What’s more, we do it over and over. So one possibly bad event, turns into multiple bad events simply because we repeat it. According to this article, your subconscious can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined event.
So we can literally make shit up and the mind and body will react as if it is real. Seriously, the truth is, you can make this shit up!
I often have conversations in my head about real and imagined scenarios. We all do this, don’t blink at me as if I’ve lost my mind. Off we go on our little, pointless tangents, often over inflating the situation and you can feel your heart rate increase.
We feel ourselves getting angry, anxious or even depressed. It’s like we are in a hole and the world is closing in on us. Hope is futile and we look for a doughnut shop, a couch and a soppy movie! Or a beer!
It doesn’t have to be this way.
What to do
When I was listening to Sam Harris’s meditation app Waking Up, Sam would lead me through a meditation and the challenge, or suggestion at the end, was to notice the “moments” between commitments. Say between meetings, or conversations, or when moving from one room to another, or heading out to lunch or coming back from lunch. Simple, everyday moments we all have.
Sam would instruct me to take a moment and determine to respond, rather than react. To take a breath and notice the breath. To be mindful rather than be on autopilot and rush to the next thing!
To be honest, it took me a while. I’d get through my day and and realise I had missed all the opportunities to “notice the moment”. You can imagine what that self talk was like!
But then, one day, I did notice. I literally caught myself saying, “I am leaving this meeting and I’m heading out to get something to eat.” Bingo! I had slowed down enough, or become aware enough, to notice a moment.
Noticing moments allows you space to take conscious action.
In terms of working on your self talk, take notice of your internal conversations. Determine the difference between a real conversation you are working through versus a rant that will never see the light of day.
When the rant is in full swing, notice it, and shut it down.
I do this all the time now and it really helps my mood and reduces my stress or anxiety.
I will literally notice the conversation in my head and call out the exaggerations. I’ll say to myself, “That didn’t happen, drop it!” and I stop the conversation in my head. I then put on the “half smile” I talked about here to move away from the dark clouds in my head to the sunshine.
We can’t always control what happens to us and we can all get caught out by impulsive self talk. But if we start to notice these moments, we can begin to respond and not react.
Sometimes just reading something like this is enough to trigger the ability to stop and notice.
Other times we need to be more conscious about this.
I suggest writing something down to read each morning. Or, as I have also done, I write what I want to be conscious of at the top of the page in my notebooks where I write my notes of meetings during the day. This way it’s always in front of me.
On days I forget, I simply remind myself I get another chance tomorrow!
“Start Happy” is a way to take stock every day, every moment and turn our attention to the positive things that are happening, if we are prepared to notice them.
This doesn’t mean everything will be perky 100% of the time but the good thing is we can reflect on challenges and difficult times and learn from them, even if that learning is simply: I survived.
When I first wake up, I decide to be happy. Just decide. Nothing more. No writing out a mantra or reading a passage of an inspirational book. I can do those things of course, and often do but, even after doing those activities, I still need to decide.
Being happy is a decision I make. And I can make that decision multiple times a day. Even in the midst of a storm. In fact, even better in the midst of a storm.
As I go through my day today, I’m conscious of my mood and feelings. Then, at those times when I feel myself getting frustrated, angry, tired, worn out, flat, I …smile.
Just a small one so people don’t think I’ve checked out.
There is a practice which the Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh calls a gentle half smile, which can indeed brighten our day, without needing to pretend that life is all wonderful.
MIYANDA THERAPY AND TRAINING
Try this. I’ve been doing it for months now and, each time I think to do it and wonder if the “magic” of the half smile will wear off – it doesn’t.
I used to hug my dog every day*. Multiple times. My family think I may have doted on him a little too much! I hugged him because I loved him ❤️ I hugged him when I was happy 😀 I hugged him whenever I saw him 🐕🦺 and … I hugged him when I was feeling down! 😞
The last part is what might help: doing something for someone else when I’m feeling down boosts my mood!
Often I think I need something, or someone, to help me when I’m feeling flat. But my dog scientifically** proved if I do something for someone when I’m flat, I feel better! Weird! 🤷♂️
Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
When we give a “hug”, or whatever it might be, we’re doing something for others and ourselves. If we pay a genuine compliment, learn something new, overcome an obstacle, offer to pay for someone’s groceries … you get the idea. When we put in the effort, we get a positive emotional return.
Whereas, sometimes we think it is when we get something that we feel better. And sure, getting stuff is cool, but if we wait to get stuff, we may be waiting … and waiting … 😳
Putting in the effort makes us feel better even though we are doing something for someone else. Even if they don’t care too much. We become a better person. We knowwe do. And no-one else needs to know that.
Don’t overthink this.
Who will you encounter today?
Family, friends, colleagues Mr and Mrs/Ms General Public?
What might you give today? You’ll feel better.
Try this for 7 days. Let me know how you go! #dontstress
*Unfortunately, we recently had to put Django to sleep due to his failing health health! We are still coming to grips with this. It broke our hearts.💔
**Possibly scientific, I need to do more research! 😉
We had the family over for a Spanish style meal (paella, which my Spanish friend, Gonzalo, will only allow me to call “Rice with Stuff” because it’s not true paella. Tastes good but! 😉)
Today’s post about a really cool idea I discovered while doing research about beliefs and how they impact our lives as well as a deep dive into stress, particularly the good stress, Eu-stress. More articles to come on those topics soon.
Oh, and if you’ve eaten too much over the weekend, #dontstress, just start again! (That’s what I’m doing! 😬)
On with the show!
Today’s newsletter is a link to an article by David Hoang. David writes the newsletter “Proof of Concept”. The article, Your Career Hype Doc, is from December 2020 but it is too good not to share.
David talks about having a Hype Document, kind of like a brag book of all your accomplishments. David got the idea from a 2019 post by Jessica Ivins where she writes about a Career Management Document.
My contribution is to encourage you to take the time to investigate this and write down your accomplishments. I hear so many times from so many people who look at their work and shrug it off as if it was nothing.
Write Stuff Down
I have noticed that I encourage people to write things down … a lot. This means taking time to think through the thoughts that pop into your head while you’re reading these posts or others you come across. Sometimes that can feel like a waste of time when we have so many other things to do. And if the information is important “I’m sure I’ll remember it!”
“The palest ink is better than the best memory.” – Chinese proverb
This isn’t to give you homework! 😉 It is to provide you with a structure to make the most of your readings. So, for your benefit, take the time to note down your accomplishments. Pick a time frame, whether that be weekly or monthly, like David. And review how well you have done.
You may not be where you want to be … but you won’t be where you were!
Most importantly, you’ll realise all of the things you do well. Which for some people, who tend to beat themselves up, will be a nice change. This really is an important activity.
Below is my progress for April. I’ve added a second page to my process.
The left had side is bullet points as I think of them throughout the month. I don’t edit them. I write as I think.
The right hand side is for looking for themes and summarising. I’ll do that at month’s end. That will help me encapsulate what I have done/achieved and I expect it will suggest next actions and directions to take.
Additional benefit: This would be a really good coaching tool for someone you’re working with. Ask them to take note of their daily or weekly wins. The have them review them with you when you catch up and, using there right hand side, ask them to articulate what this means for them! Could be quite powerful.
One last thing.
I’ve joined a gym, Flow Performance, here in Perth. If you’re in Perth, and can get to Balcatta, highly recommended! The community they have built over the past few years is amazing. And to that end I bought some Nike Metcon shoes, which seem to be quite popular in gyms. I also took the time to customise them a little. 😉
This was going to be a short one but it got away from me. I hope you find it useful. Feedback is such a powerful tool … when used for good and not for evil!
Join the conversation in the comments and pass on to someone you feel may get some benefit from it. The more the merrier! 🥳
The Steel Shavings Incident!
Growing up in Albany, Western Australia, we often existed shoeless. In the house, backyard, beach. Shoes were not the norm. Church? Yes, we wore shoes in church! And we’d visit my dad at the engineering business he owned for over 40 years. I would have been 6 or 7 at the time of the “incident”. I’d be so keen to see all the big machines (lathes, drill presses, metal saws and other stuff). I didn’t see the steel shavings on the floor around the lathes. These were curled up pieces of metal that flew off the lathes. Sharp as razor wire to the bare foot of a 6 year old, or any-year-old for that matter.
Imagine stepping on something that cuts into you and you jump from the pain of the cut and then have to land, and, in that instant (less than a second), have to decide where to land so you don’t get cut again!
I can remember still, the cotton wool … and the blood! So. Much. Blood. 🩸
So, without any fear or favour, my dad would yell, “Next time put some bloody shoes on!” Not one for showing sympathy, the old man! Feedback was great though! 👍
Feedback is one of those topics that gets a bad rap! Mainly because when we think of feedback, we think “negative”, or the more politically correct “constructive” feedback.
Perhaps it’s also because it is uncomfortable to give negative feedback. What if they disagree? What if they don’t accept it? What if they challenge me? All awkward situations for sure.
But, like a good joke, it’s all in the delivery!
Little and Often
The key to giving better feedback is to make it like it’s almost nothing. (Almost!)
If you leave feedback for a “later time”, it loses all effect. If we delay feedback, it’s certainly easier to be challenged with “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” For which we need to have a really good answer! Which we won’t, but we’ll try. At this point I’d suggest putting the shovel down and stop digging the hole you’re in!
But if it’s little (meaning small) and often, this doesn’t happen.
Think of a situation where you need to give feedback, think of something small and not inflammatory for now. Maybe late to a meeting, late to work, forgot something.
Keep it small and follow these guidelines*:
Ask permission: hey can I give you some feedback? [Sure]
Describe the facts: when you’re late to the meeting
Describe a consequence: we need to stop and catch you up. That’s not great!
Ask for a change: can you fix that next time? [Okay]
Say thanks: Thanks! 😉
That’s it! Takes less than 10 seconds and, because it’s factual, it’s hard to challenge. It also leaves the person with the autonomy of how they’re going to fix it. Have you noticed adults don’t like being told what to do? Who knew?
Why so negative?
Some of you reading this will think, people do good things too. Do we not give them feedback?
Absolutely! (See the “Homework” below.)
The same steps apply.
Ask permission: hey can I give you some feedback? [Sure]
Describe the facts: when you’re prepared for the meeting like you were
Describe a consequence: it makes the process so much better and we achieve a lot more in the meeting! That’s awesome!
Ask for a continuance: You’re leading by example. Keep it up! [Okay]
Say thanks: Thanks! 🙌
Note: be specific with positive feedback as well. “Good job!” doesn’t cut it! Be observant, what did they do that was good? ← That’s what you tell them!
Here’s the problem
When we don’t provide feedback, we let it fester. Time goes by and after a time, it’s too late to give the feedback about the thing. Even if it’s good feedback.
When that happens, as a leader or manager, I make the decision that the problem is now me, not them! I need to be better! (You may decide differently.)
We need to acknowledge that people tend to doubt themselves. Without feedback, they may decide what they did was not good enough or incorrect and change their behaviour … because you didn’t give them the feedback! 🤯
The … “Homework”
Even with such a simple process, giving feedback can be difficult.
Start off by looking for what people do right and provide that feedback. No negative/constructive feedback, unless of course it’s mission critical. That’s your call.
Look for something good each day. Because it’s positive you can leave out the “ask permission” step but I’d advise you to use it. When you get to providing negative/constructive feedback, it’ll roll off the tongue.
Being positive consistently generates better behaviour in other areas. People like being liked and accepted. When positive feedback comes, it generates a perspective of acceptance, so other behaviours adjust to this. It’s like someone not wanting to let their boss down. It’s not 100% failsafe, people still screw up, but you may be surprised how well this works.
In the Human Synergistics Circumplex** tool, research suggests that by building one component, say Humanistic-Encouraging (1 on the circumplex), the opposite behaviour, Oppositional (7), a negative behaviour, will lessen. The opposite is also true! 😬
Determine to give feedback little and often. Look for ways to provide positive feedback. Be specific. What is it you liked? Become comfortable with giving feedback. So many times I heard people say, “The only time I get feedback is when I’ve done something wrong!” We can change that! Today!
And hey, if you do mess it up occasionally, remember … #dontstress! Go again!
*The team I sourced this from are Mark Horstman and Michael Auzenne from Manager Tools. Easily the best business podcast and website. Simple but effective, and great value for money if you’re wanting to dig into all the tools they offer, which are many.
**I am not a qualified consultant of Human Synergistics. I was involved with their work in a company that engaged them for their expertise. Hence my knowledge of the tool.
If you’ve read this far, you’re in for a treat! Personal feedback!
Yes, you can apply this to yourself! How good is that? 🙌
Rather than beat yourself up when you make a mistake, and we all know we are our own worst critic, here’s a practice you can use to break that habit.
“Next time …“
Using the feedback steps above, add these steps to your self talk.
Hey, I was late to a meeting.
When I’m late to meetings, it puts the team off, slows us all down and I am playing catch up! And stressed!
Next time … I’ll [and now add what you’ll do next time to prevent being late to meetings!]
Take notice of areas you want to improve. Use this method to bring your automatic behaviours to your conscious attention and make changes to readjust your automatic behaviours.
Personal example: I’m working on my health and part of that is getting a better night’s sleep. Sometimes a glass of wine can disrupt that. So, when I’m thinking of having a wine, here’s my “Next time …”:
Fact (for me, you do you): Hey, when I drink wine at night …
Consequence … It disrupts my sleep …
Next time … I think of having a wine at night, I’ll grab a glass of water instead.
Have you ever come home from work (whether you work from home or not), and wanted to just throw something? Like it was the worst day ever! And “worst day ever” was not an exaggeration. It was THE Worst. Day. Ever! (WDE)
Now, have you ever come home from the same job, 24 hours later, thinking the exact opposite? As in, Best. Day. Ever!
I have, and it’s both a pain in the ass and a revelation. They say a week is a long time in politics. Twenty four hours can be a long time in a job.
So, want happened in the twenty four hours between worst and best?
In my experience, (and this is not a peer reviewed, double blind study of thousands, this n=1), a bad day is just a bad day.But we catastrophise it.
My WDE was working in finance and I had deadlines that needed to be met and things just went awry. Then a deal was declined and I had to break the bad news to the client. I took it as a personal affront. I felt I had lost credibility with the client and my manager and they both thought less of me. And, while dealing with that, I still had to charge ahead on the deals that were falling more and more behind. And then I thought: “I should be better than this!” See? Worst. Day. Ever!
Here’s my evaluation, yours may differ with that minimal amount of information.
The problem wasn’t really in missing or delaying the deadlines. Everyone knew we were short staffed, over worked and had way more on our plate than was feasible. The executive didn’t really care as it was money in the door, profits increasing and happier shareholders. (Until later, when we literally ran out of money to lend!) It was backs to the wall stuff.
The deal that got declined wasn’t really an issue. Was I the first person in history to have a deal declined. The first person ever to miss an element in financial management? No. Hardly. Shit happens. (But I do tend to be down on myself for mistakes I make. Again, I’m probably not the only one who does this).
The real problem here was my … perspective!
I had taken it way too personally! I know, people getting a deal declined can be demoralising and hard on the client when they can’t achieve their goal. But I can’t help them in that moment. Sometimes I feel I should.
So what happened in the 24 hours after that WDE (Worst Day Ever!)?
Because of the WDE, I took stock to get control back, or at least a little more control. I looked at what was within my sphere of influence and took steps to manage my workload.
I literally piled up the files on my desk (it was a very high pile!). I ordered them by deadline and worked though them one by one. No deal got looked at until the deal I was working on was finished with for the day. If a client rang up asking for an update I gave them the briefest (but nicest) update and then back to the pile.
The productivity and progress made that day went through the roof!
Best Day Ever!
Two things I (re)learned:
Perspective – how am I thinking about my circumstances and how am I responding? Am I improving my circumstances or adding to the chaos? What steps can I take to regain order and control? Is it really as bad as it seems or am I catastrophising again?
Processes/Procedures – I love these. Develop a process or a procedure to follow to ensure the steps I am taking cover the end to end process. And then iterate as I go. Is there a step I can add or remove? Keep it simple. This is from experience but the Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is an also must read!
in addition to this, particularly if you work in an organisation where people can override you, it is invaluable to be able to articulate your thinking and demonstrate your process. Sometimes a manager will not care about your discipline to work effectively and pronounce “just get it done!” This can be a challenge when trying to become better and stressing less by doing what you need to keep to the plan. I had this challenge last week. Here is the outcome …
In order to reduce stress, look at how you are looking at things. What perspective are you taking? Are you making it worse than what it is? This can be hard in the moment. But that thought (it can be hard in the moment) is also a realisation to help us move forward. You may need to think, “This is hard…”, but then follow it up with “… but not pointless.”
Processes. What can you put in place to help you stay on course? Is it a checklist or simply write out for today what you’d like to achieve? Perhaps add what will you do if you get off track. What about people who can, due to their role, overrule what you are trying to achieve? Is that a personal development opportunity → “How to deal with people who try to overrule you (unnecessarily)”. Sometimes being overruled is necessary. A wise person will know or learn the difference.
And then, be kind to yourself. It may not happen at the first try. It may take a few goes to get it right.
One of the issues surrounding workplaces and the community is the increase in ambiguity.
I can recall my first role where “Able to manage ambiguity within the business” was in the position description. It was around the Y2K debacle. So … fairly appropriate. Few really knew what was going on or what was going to happen.
It the seemed that ambiguity was the word of the year and something to be proud of. Perhaps in some cases, for leaders in particular, it may be so. But if you want to to get the best from your team, I’d be counselling leaders to provide what certainty they can to those who do the actual work.
Here are some suggestions – there is no rocket science here. It is more a matter of doing the work rather than just acknowledging that this work could be done (but isn’t):
create a weekly newsletter outlining the achievements of the past week and the plans for the coming week
bring team members into the planning process. Allow them to communicate with their teams (no hush-hush meetings)
provide clear and specific feedback regularly, both positive and constructive.
maintain consistency – don’t be one person or type of leader one day and another the next. I had a leader who was like this and we’d message each other in the morning as to her mood! (I also have to admit that have been that leader! 😞)
Create Your Own Certainty
While this applies to us as leaders, it also applies to us within our functional role. What can we do to improve our own level of confidence as to what is happening?
Read the weekly newsletter (!)- and in this case, ask questions, don’t read it passively. It won’t stick. If someone is called out for doing a good job, find out what they did and maybe send them a note of congrats.
Reflect on your perforce of a task – what could you dod different/better next time? This is like feedback but within yourself.
Research information that can bring clarity to your immediate role. Expanding your knowledge allows you to develop a broader context.
Nothing is as bad or as good as it seems – maintain consistency within yourself. Learn not to panic or over react to adverse situations.
The more people are certain of their surroundings and immediate future, the more they can bring their full self to work. This means you are working together on the goal and less on trying to motivate or cajole people into improved performance.
If people are working in ambiguity unnecessarily, they can take actions (or inaction) that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Not only does it affect them but also affects the team and the business.
Think of one or two things you can do today that might increase the certainty of those you work and interact with. This can be colleagues, peers, your leader and those you lead as well as friends and family.
Let me know in the comments how you do this. I’d be keen to know. Plus I get to steal all your good ideas! 😉
Imagine you come home from work tomorrow night and, as you pull into the driveway, you notice a window has been broken. Not cracked, there is a hole in the window. The weather can get in, as can nosy neighbours and some ne’er do wells!
What do you do? You (hopefully) take action to fix the window.
Why? Because a broken window is classified as “wrong”. A fixed window is “normal”. A broken window is not.
When it comes to goal setting, you want to either:
get back to normal (i.e. fix the broken window) or;
create a new normal – do something new with the window
As humans, we gravitate to normal, our comfort zone. Normal is deemed as safe. But what I view as normal and what you view as normal is likely very different. Therefore, normal is not arbitrary. This is great news because we can pick the new, better normal and work towards that. Maybe I’d like to have more of what you’re thinking.
And to create a new normal, we need a new problem.
As with the broken window, if we see a problem, we look to fix it. It’s automatic. See broken window, fix broken window.
We work to fix the things that are without or control.
And problems, like the broken window, create energy, an impetus to fix the problem.
What is my point?
With regards to goals and making plans for things to change, we need energy. Ergo, we need a problem!
“Tell me what you want, what you really really want!”
If we want to travel overseas for a holiday, most of us have to change our spending and put funds aside for the trip. This, in itself, becomes the new normal. It’s hard at times but we need to decide if we really want the trip and to make the necessary changes. If funds are short week to week, it can cause conflict. It’s called sacrificing and we all have different levels of sacrifice!
But we make the sacrifice if we want the holiday! And then, one day, we step on to that plane … 😀
And so, with goal setting, we need to change what is normal in order to achieve the goal.
Different isn’t always better but better is always different!
The “Holiday” Imagine the change you want is the holiday. How do you plan for the holiday?You probably:
select a destination
check flights or journey options
review your budget
look up places to visit
create a spreadsheet to track things like packing, destinations, costs (no-one does that do they? *cough*)
you talk to people about it (endlessly!)
All of these actions to a greater or lesser degree, create energy. This energy provides the fuel to make your goal a reality. Hey, even planning for a well deserved holiday can be stressful and sometimes we think it’s just not worth the hassle – but it is and we endure!
What is your goal? Can you adapt the above points to your goal? More than likely.
How much do you want your goal? If the energy is there, you’ll achieve your goal or get very close to it. Even a holiday might need to be changed if something doesn’t work out and you can’t influence it. (I’d be on the next plane to Germany if Covid cases weren’t on the rise!)
Conversely, if there is no energy to change, the goal is likely to remain a goal. But, in the same way, if your goal is something you are prepared to sacrifice for, talk about, track progress and make it part of your “normal”, it’ll happen almost magically.
How do you achieve your goals? Let me know in the comments.
A new SCARF based staff development/coaching template is now available on the Resources page here.
The template uses the SCARF Model to help leaders determine where their staff are in relation to the five factors in the model. The template uses a rating scale of 1 through 10. This allows a leader to determine granular levels of each factor. You can also use an either/or approach. This means you can assess whether a team member is in threat mode or reward mode.
Look for Trends
It is important to have data to support your views or you may be off on a wild goose chase. Also note, people can have bad days and weeks, so also look for trends over time. A quieter day in the team may simply mean they’ve had an argument with their spouse.
Another aspect is to go a little deeper than outward appearances only. This takes a little more care but you don’t need to be a psychologist. This might be what is referred to as “Will vs Skill”. If a person has the skills to complete a task but doesn’t, then it may be a “will” issue. There may be something internally preventing them.
Will vs Skill
A simple example I have come across many times is sales. People join organisations for a purpose and then sales comes into the role. (Or perhaps it was there all long and they have avoided it). Regardless, they now need to jump on the sales train.
Some people are averse to this approach with customers and avoid it. Leaders will consider all sorts of strategies to win them over.
The point about going deeper is to understand the aversion to sales itself. This may comes down to beliefs, attitudes and habits around the concept of selling. There could be many reasons for this:
family background is adverse to sales people
have been scammed before vowed to never do that to others
don’t want to be seen as a salesperson in the worst sense (many people use the “used car salesperson” metaphor)
Won’t people see me as pushy?
What if people say no? We all hates rejection.
In relation to the SCARF model, this might be seen as a threat and so they may use common behaviours to deal with the threat:
Fight – push back (e.g. why do I have to sell?)
Flight – avoid “selling” and describe is as better customer service (without the required results)
Freeze – reduction in contact with customers (in a contact centre this may look like shortened call times, hanging up on customers)
Flinch – using most of the process with out closing the sale (aka asking for the order)
The point is to assess where your individual team members are on the scale and work towards supporting them to the more beneficial side of the equation.
When we think of personal development, we think in terms of taking new things on: taking on new skills, taking on new behaviours, as well as new attitudes and beliefs. This can be scary and take us well out of our comfort zone.
This is because, when we start to take on these new attributes, we’re rarely competent … at first. We get to (re)learn about the competency ladder.
Unconsciously incompetent – we did know that we didn’t know!
Conscious incompetent – we now know what we don’t know!
Consciously competent – we focus and become better at our new skills
Unconsciously competent – we do it without even thinking about it!
Acting as if …
In his commencement speech at the University of the Arts 2012, Neil Gaiman finishes off a great speech by suggesting people be wise. “But”, he says, “If you don’t know how to be wise, think of someone who is wise and just pretend to be like them.”
“Acting as if” leads to acting, or behaving and thinking, like the character trait you want to be competent in.
According to the site, Ranker, Daniel Day Lewis is known for staying in character off camera. Reportedly, he would send text messages as “Commander in Chief” and talk on the phone as Abraham Lincoln when he was filming Lincoln.
He was acting as if he was Lincoln!
What skill or behaviour are you looking to develop?
An actor will take the time to research their character. Particularly if it is based on true events, they will go to great lengths to find out about their character, as stated by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Tom Hanks.
And yet, here is how Hanks describes the situation:
When we are looking to lead people, or influence others, what traits do we need to take on in order to be successful in the role or the situation? Think about someone you know who has the attributes you are seeking. Have a conversation with them, taking note of how they approach a situation. Then reflect on how you might adopt that skill.
Imagine for a moment, you get triggered very easily by certain situations or certain people. Perhaps a leader in your organisation is unethical but keeps getting accolades and acknowledgments. Each time you interact with them you find yourself thinking about their flaws and it can distract you from the task at hand.
Speak to someone you know and trust. Ask them how they deal with difficult personalities. (I suggest NOT mentioning your trigger person). Hear your colleague out and imagine yourself managing the situation the same way. What skills and attributes would you need to take on? Write them down.
Now “act as if” you had those skills. Can you do this for a few seconds? A few minutes? A whole meeting?
This is different from “faking it till you make it”. Faking it calls out the fact you are faking it. Therefore, it could mean you’re being duplicitous with yourself. And there is no need to be.
An analogy in two parts
When we learn to drive a car on the road, we’re learning at the same time as doing. You’re not faking it.
Sitting in a lounge chair, making car noises with hands on an imaginary steering wheel is faking it!
It’s the same when dealing with new and challenging situations. You’re actually “driving the car” no matter how nervously or how you feel inwardly or how many mistakes you make … you’re driving! 🙌
Truth be told, the person you went to for guidance, at one time, “acted as if” as well. Maybe they still are! 😧
We do this every day! We act as if every day of our lives. We do it subconsciously to fit in, deal with a difficult client, even drive to a brand new location because just getting there can be stressful.
Now the skill is to do it consciously, on purpose, with an expected result. If you don’t get it exactly right first time, you go again. You can’t be version 2.0 of yourself within being a Version 1.0! Not even Apple, Microsoft and Google can do that.
Develop your character they you want it to be! To benefit you and those you work with.