Do you have any idea how great you are? Have you shared your excellence with the rest of the world?
After 25 years as a public relations professional, I became pretty good at promoting other people to make them look good. But it took me a much longer time to figure out how to do that for myself.
Take a look at yourself and your feelings about your accomplishments. Do you undermine or devalue your abilities? Even worse, maybe you constantly question whether you have talent or could ever be successful.
Do you zero in on the things you don't do well and compare yourself to all of the brilliant people who appear far more talented and successful?
We humans have a strangely counterproductive way of focusing on what we don't have or can't do. We tumble negative thoughts around in our brains, poking and prodding them until they swell and become gigantic brain boils that leech our energy and self-esteem. Dwelling on what we lack does not make us more successful. It drags us down and stifles creativity.
“All well and good,” you might think, “but telling me to stop thinking about it doesn't change the way I feel.” I get that. And friend, I've been there too. You can have a million people telling you you're brighter than a light bulb, but if you don't feel it and believe it, success always seems elusive.
Here's the secret to embracing your own greatness: fake it.
Remember that famous scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are in the diner? Harry (Billy) doesn't believe that Sally (Meg) could realistically fake a — well, you know. Sally gives the performance of a lifetime, then nonchalantly takes a bite of her sandwich, while one of the shocked onlookers tells the waitress, “I'll have what she's having!” Sally proved that you don't have to actually feel it in order to be convincing.
You don't have to re-create Sally's performance, but you can fake feelings in a positive and ethical way to jump start energy and enthusiasm.
You can act “as if” until the ruse becomes the reality. And amazingly, with consistent practice, the ruse really will become reality.
Thoughts are the parents of feelings. And thoughts plus action dramatically reinforce those feelings. If you consistently focus your thoughts on what you can't do or don't have, you will surely feel like a loser. Now, reinforce those negative thoughts with actions, like avoiding people or resisting new challenges, and you might as well pour cement over your feet.
However, if you use that remarkable brain of yours to switch gears entirely and pretend to feel confident and successful, the real feelings will eventually follow. Back up the pretense with action, and you are strapping a Hemi engine to your potential for positive change and success.
With consistent practice, faking it actually tricks the brain into believing it.
Well, it actually starts re-routing neural pathways to the area of the brain that supports happiness and confidence. (Check out this article on the science of neuroplasticity.) The more you think about success and act successful, even if you don't feel it, the more successful you will become.
Here are some kick-start ideas to support you in faking your way to greatness:
1. Start today. Make a commitment to yourself right now that you will begin implementing these actions, and work on them regularly for the next six weeks. It takes consistency and practice to turn your thinking around. What do you have to lose?
2. Assess your strengths. Get pen and paper and write down everything you can do relatively well. Can you cook? Are you a good listener? Are you well-read? Have you coached your kid's team? Are you organized? What may seem meaningless to you could be something that others perceive as a real gift. Ask someone close to you to offer feedback on this. Just doing this writing exercise will shift your toward more positive thinking.
3. Harness and re-frame negative thinking. When you start to feel down about yourself and the negative thinking begins, drop a brick wall in your your flow of thoughts. Literally say, “stop” out loud, and use mental force to interrupt the negative thinking cycle. Then re-frame the thoughts to make them positive. Instead, focus on the can-do list you just created or other positive thoughts or memories.
4. Separate your higher self from your ego self. It's your ego that wraps you up in negative and fearful thinking. Your higher self knows better. Your higher self knows that you are capable and worthy. Mentally step outside of your ego and become your own best friend. Listen to the kind and supportive words of your friend — not your ego. Your ego may try to tell you your friend is lying, but ignore that ego. He or she is bad news.
5. Become your own publicist. A publicist presents their client in the best and most positive light possible. They draw attention to the client's abilities and successes in an interesting way. Pretend that you are your own client. If you were promoting this client, what would you say? How would you put your best foot forward? What skills and talents are you ignoring or downplaying that might be worthwhile to others?
6. Write your bio and elevator speech. While still pretending that you are your own publicist, write your bio and an elevator speech. Craft these so that your client (you) presents real abilities in an impressive style. But here's a tip: write these from the perspective of service and passion. How can you reflect the passion you feel about providing a something valuable to others? Then you infuse your self-promotion with real value and meaning. Begin memorizing and rehearsing these lines for your next gig — acting.
7. Practice method acting. Define the person you would like to be — perhaps someone confident, worthy, curious and courageous. Use your imagination to get into the mind of this character and adopt the emotions this character would have. Act “as if” until your thinking changes, and you begin to really feel these emotions. This may be draining at first, but as you practice, it will become the real you, not just an act.
8. Step on to the stage. While “in character,” take part in the play. Practice your acting in real-life situations. Go to the networking meeting. Ask for the job. Speak up in the meeting. Put yourself out there. Is it possible you might flop? Sure, but it's also possible you will get rave reviews. Learn from the flops, and apply the knowledge to your next performance. Every flop is a stepping stone to success — unless you quit.
9. Hone your skills. If there are areas in your life or career where you truly do need more knowledge or experience, then do something about it. Ask for help, take a class, read, find a mentor. Constantly work to improve your skills — a tangible action that will support your efforts at positive thinking and acting “as if.”
10. Focus energy on your passion. If you enjoy what you do, you will naturally have more energy in doing it. If you have the choice, align your acting and learning efforts with the work or activities you most enjoy. Don't fight against the flow. Go with it! If you are an accountant, but you really love teaching, then maybe it's time to reassess your career. Or perhaps to find a way to combine your passion with your existing skills.
If you want to skyrocket your success, start by faking your thoughts and actions.
- access your strengths
- re-direct and re-frame your thinking
- promote yourself with passion and a spirit of service
- step into a confident character role
- keep learning
- live your passion
With practice, faking it will transform into feeling it, and you will discover that success is never far behind!
If you want to read more about life transformation, please download my FREE e-book, How to Live a Meaningful Life.