As we launch into a new year you've probably made some kind of New Year’s resolution, even if that’s not what you call it. Whether you call it a New Year’s resolution or a goal, more than likely you have something big that you’re trying to achieve. And this something big may really push you outside your comfort zone.
You might be embarking on a new challenge like starting a business. Or maybe you’re taking on public speaking for the first time. Perhaps you’re striving for a big promotion or leadership role. Whatever the goals you've set they may seem huge and out of
I’m here to tell you that YOU are capable of so much more than you even realize.
How do I know this when I don’t even know you (well, might know YOU!)? I know this because I once did something that I thought was impossible and along the way I accomplished something far more important than reaching a goal. I learned that I truly can do anything I want to do and be anything I want to be. And you can, too! And it all revolved around acting as if. You know, the old “fake it till you make it” plan. Let me explain.
It all started with me being a very non-athletic child. I was a total girly girl who loved to wear dresses and fix my hair, didn’t like to get dirty, and was very shy. Along with that I was always the smallest kid in my class and very uncoordinated from the sports standpoint, which led me to being completely uninterested in taking on any athletic activity and made PE class a nightmare! (Hint: I was always the last one picked for teams!) This was my personal brand throughout my childhood and teens.
Into my 20s I did not get more interested in sports but I did become interested in exercise and took up aerobics in the 80s (yes, think shiny tights, leg warmers, and all the typical aerobics class accessories!). Unfortunately this interest in exercise and fitness did not make me more coordinated but it did plant a seed of health and fitness in my life. In my 30s I joined a gym where I went every morning before work usually taking a Spinning class or some other type of group fitness class. Then a friend introduced me to running. She started me out running on the treadmill and boy did I hate running. I couldn’t even run for 5 minutes without stopping. But, she encouraged me and helped me train for and complete my first 5K. I still hated running. But I felt the spark of achievement through accomplishing something I had never done before. My personal brand began to shift. I was acting as if.
This same friend introduced the idea of us training together to complete a short distance triathlon. Although neither of us could swim we enrolled in swimming lessons at the local YMCA where we were both members. Twelve weeks later, at the age of 37, I completed a short distance triathlon, called a sprint, a huge accomplishment for me. I would go on to complete about 5 sprint triathlons, all the while completing the swim portion doing breast stroke with my head out of the water. For the uninitiated, this is not ideal because it uses a ton of energy and is much slower than swimming the freestyle (AKA the crawl) stroke.
Through my triathlon training, I had developed an interest in doing a half-Ironman distance triathlon, which includes a 1.2 mile swim. But I knew that in order to do that I had to get over this fear of drowning every time I put my head in the water to swim freestyle. So I enrolled in a women’s triathlon training clinic and through some very focused coaching by the woman who led the training I was able to overcome my fear of the water and swim all of my next triathlons in the freestyle stroke. Mission accomplished! I was becoming a triathlete. I was acting as if.
Over the course of the next 6 years I would complete a half-Ironman triathlon every May. Although this distance was very challenging for me I was happy with the half distance and never, ever had any interest in completing the longer full Ironman distance, considered the pinnacle of the triathlon distances. Ironman distance seemed impossible. I mean, who in their right mind would sign up (and pay!) to swim 2.4 miles (in the ocean, by the way!), ride 112 miles on the bike, and then run a full marathon (26.2 miles)? Not this girl. Until.
Something in me said I could do it.
So, I registered to compete in the 2013 Florida Ironman triathlon. I trained for a full year and on November 2, 2013 in 15 hours and 55 minutes (that’s about an hour before the cutoff time) I crossed the finish line in Panama City, Florida. I had acted as if.
So, what does all this mean for you? You might be saying to yourself right now, “I could never do that”. You might think that there’s something special about me that made me be able to train for a full year or be able to cross the finish line of that race. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not special. I’m certainly not athletically gifted. And I don’t have a lot of free time for training. The reason why I was able to complete such a grueling physical challenge and go from uncoordinated girly girl to triathlete is because of the small steps I took along the way to that huge challenge, all the while acting as if.
Acting as if helped me see myself as a triathlete and helped me connect with other triathletes, which further supported my efforts to shift my perspective and see myself as what I wanted to be.
I was acting as if. Some refer to this as “fake it till you make it”, which might seem like a lot of bunk. But in fact, it turns out there’s actual science behind this idea. Here’s a really great article about some of these “fake it till you make it” strategies and the science behind why they’re effective: 8 Fake it Till You Make It Strategies Backed by Science.
One of these strategies is the “As If Principle” as explained here by psychologist, author, and speaker Richard Wiseman: The As If Principle
Based on the as if principle, by going through the motions, and “acting as if” I was a triathlete I was helping to increase my odds of success in achieving my athletic goals. And I’m here to tell you that the same is true for you no matter your goal. Think about what you want in your personal, professional, or entrepreneurial life. What do you want your personal brand to stand for? How do you want to be known and seen by your audience, your clients, your boss, the world? Is there a business you want to launch but you’re unsure if you’ll be seen as a thought leader in that space? Are you shifting careers but you don’t know how to be seen and heard in a new field? The starting point to reaching your personal brand goals is small steps into that new space to shift how you see yourself, and of course how others see you. Start acting as if you are how you want to be seen and you and others will begin to see you that way.
To quote Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So what are you waiting for? If you’ve got some audacious goals just jump in and get started. Each step you take will reinforce how you see yourself and help you take your personal brand where you want it to go.
Jump in now and let me know if you have any thoughts or questions! I'd love to chat about your audacious goals.
The Brand Teacher
Want to better understand what you can do to be seen as a thought leader in your industry so you can get that promotion or attract your ideal client? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's schedule a chat about how we can work together or schedule your Brand Boost Strategy Session today!