In 1979, a group of 75-year old men gathered at a retreat center. The retreat center was a little dated… by 20 years to be exact.
Everything was set up as if it was the year 1959; newspapers, magazines, movies, and books were all from ’59.
The men were told to act as if it was twenty years ago too. Many spoke as if they were still working at their old jobs. They spoke about president Eisenhower, sports stars like Johnny Unitas, and other “current events.” They wore ID badges with pictures of their younger selves.
Their stay only lasted a week, but by the time they left, the men had a literal pep in their step. They were more flexible and held a better posture.
The men saw improvements in everything from their eyesight to their memory to their physical strength. There was even improvements in their intelligence.
Random strangers looked at their before and after photos, and said the after pictures looked an average of three years younger #Nofilter
These men changed their health by acting as if they were younger men.
This same approach can be used to add a little swagger and confidence to our lives.
When I was 16-years old, I got certified with Metabolic Effect (a 30-minute group exercise class), and the day after I was certified, my sister Jill volunteered me to teach three classes in the upcoming week.
I was petrified. My classes would consist of people 2-3x my age, and despite my lack of facial hair, I had to step to the front of the class and act like I owned the place. I had to motivate and lead the class with high energy and challenging hybrids.
I remember stepping up to the first class and simply talking exactly like the founder of the company, Jade Teta. I copied his tone, his words, even the way he paced back and forth. I remember literally pretending I was him.
After the class I remember people walking up to me asking how long I’ve been teaching. They thought I had done it many times before.
I didn’t think positive thoughts. I didn’t pump myself up in the mirror. I didn’t receive affirmations. I simply copied someone I knew to be confident.
Did it stop my armpits from sweating or my voice from cracking? No. I was still nervous.
But I did the same thing the next class, and the class after that. And by acting confidently for a mere two weeks, I started becoming more confident. Not just in the class, but in other areas of my life too. The confidence I gained was spreading to my ability to talk with women and strangers too.
Author Timothy Wilson coined called phrase the Do Good, Be Good Principle. It says, “we are all observers of our own behavior and form opinions of ourselves by watching what we do.”
When we act as if we are confident, our brains begin to adapt. Our mind thinks, “He wouldn’t be acting like this if he wasn’t confident, so he must be.” And my thoughts followed suit.
My man Shawn Achor, who I reference every blog post I write has shared an idea called success franchising. He teaches companies how they can replicate successful behaviors.
For example, the Ritz Carlton has something called the 10/5 Rule. It’s a customer service method that can be stated and replicated. Anytime employees see a customer, they are suppose to smile if they are 10 feet away, and say hello at 5 feet away.
It’s a small tactic that can be taught and replicated to every employee in the company.
Confidence works the same way. If we can identify behaviors of confident people, we can practice them ourselves. And just like the older men in the story above, our brains will adapt and we will become more confident.
Check it out — write down the answers to the following questions:
- Who is the most confident person you know?
- What are 1-3 specific behaviors that they do?
- Practice those 1-3 things for the next 10 days. What happened?
Confidence is less a feeling, and more of a way of being. And the more we practice being, the more we will truly become.
Wiseman, Richard. The As If-Principle the Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2014.