I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you act a certain way, pretty soon it’ll stop being an act and that’s just how you’ll be.
- Nervous when doing public speaking but want to be a good public speaker? Act in the way you think a successful public speaker would behave, including the way they dress and hold themselves on-stage.
- A bit of a wall flower, but want to be a better business networker? Act like you’re the best networker in the world, asking the questions a good networker would ask, and responding to the answers you receive as a good networker would.
- Have a desire to be seen by your peers as an industry subject matter expert? Act as though you’re already a industry subject matter expert, read the books such an expert would read, do the research an expert would undertake, talk about the things an expert would engage others in conversation about.
Struggling to imagine a better you?
But if you’re like me, and perhaps have very little imagination (although I often act as though that isn’t the case) it can be hard work to “imagine” how you’re supposed to be acting.
One idea that might work is to put yourself in a situation where you can observe how people who are already successful behave, and then act that way.
- Want to be a great public speaker? Make sure you’re regularly watching great public speakers, and making notes on how they dress and present. Take time to meet them after their presentation and introduce yourself. Ask them how they prepare for a presentation.
- Want to be a better business networker? Get yourself to the best business networking events and watch how other attendees conduct themselves. Ask them how they got to be a good business networker.
- Want to be seen by your peers as an industry subject matter expert? Spend time with those people you respect as industry subject matter experts. Learn from them, understand how they view the world, ask them what they’re reading right now.
Once you start doing this, you’ll become comfortable at acting the way you want, because you’re around other people who are acting the same way. It suddenly doesn’t seem quite as strange.
Noticing the change
But another strange thing happens. When you start acting in this new way, the people you currently spend time with will notice it. Some will sub-consciously notice this and modify their own behaviour to match.
Others will actively point out they notice your changes and likely tell you that “this isn’t you” and that you acting this way will “never work”. They’re cynical that your “new act” will work.
You’re then left with a choice. Do you continue to spend time with the cynics, who rarely offer new ideas and tend to drag your own enthusiasm levels down, or do you politely walk away from those people around you who don’t support the changes in your life?
If you’re finding changing something in your life hard, try seeking out and surrounding yourself with people who you’ve already made that change, and start acting like them.
Once you start seeking people out who are successful, and walking away from those who are cynical, change becomes an awful lot easier.