A recent Michigan State University grad was clueless about what career he wanted and was living on his parents' sofa, unemployed. So, when a relative asked, "Do you want to work in a dashboard manufacturing plant?" he said yeseven though he had no particular interest in dashboards. However, he acted as if he were passionate about dashboards: He carefully observed his coworkers, asked questions, and read articles on dashboard manufacture. He pursued dashboard expertise like an unleashed tiger pursues a cross rib roast. Soon, coworkers started coming to him with questions, and he eventually became the go-to guy on the factory floor. Not surprisingly, our dashboard dude soon got promoted. Now, also not surprisingly, he's passionate about dashboards. Lesson: Act as if.
Occasionally I give a workshop called "Smart Yet Stuck" for adults still not sure what they want to be when they grow up. One participant who wants to get involved in politics said, "I met a major Democrat operative who asked me to E-mail him a proposal, but I'm too scared to follow through." I asked him to stop thinking and act as if: "Pretend you're the most confident self you've ever been, and do what that self would do." I added, "If you feel fear building up, say, 'Stop!' aloud, and go back to acting as if you were that best self." I'm not sure he meant it, but he did say he was optimistic that this simple technique would be enough to get him to send that proposal.
When I'm relaxed, people are always complimenting me on the quality of my voice. So, especially when I'm in a pressure situation, I remind myself toyou guessed itact as if I were my relaxed self. That works ... sometimes.
Acting as if ... can often be a shortcut to improving yourself.