“Fake it ’til you make it…”

fake it 001Whispers from my Wallpaper

 

          Fake it ‘til you make it….

Have you ever heard this phrase? What does it mean to you? I think it takes on different meanings depending on who is applying it. For me it calls to something deep inside, confidence and attitude. It asks me to challenge myself and dare to live “as if…”.

My oldest son is leaving home next month to test his independence and his self-confidence by moving far away from home, away from his safety net, his foundation, his comfort zone. As his mom it is hard for me to come to terms with his decision, but if I step back and put myself in his shoes I can almost taste the excitement of the adventure and feel the energy of ownership of making his own decisions, his own space, and his own time. Who among us doesn’t remember the feeling of wanting to take life into their own hands? He always imagined himself a leader, a doer. He is now faced with faking it ‘til he makes it; to dare and live “as if”; putting on the mask of the person he wants to one day become.

“The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

And boy oh boy is it ever hard work to become yourself. Are you even there yet? Can you remember when you were little and dressing up for Halloween? The costume you chose, whether to be a superhero or a princess? Each costume came with a mask or make-up that allowed you to transform into the idea of who you wanted to be. Can you remember what you felt like once the mask and costume were in place? There was a sort of empowerment, ownership of this imagined you. Maybe grown-ups didn’t really believe who you were imagining yourself to be but you felt encouraged to go on and be your Batman self or your Little Mermaid self. You would never know that the grown-ups could see right through because they always greeted you as if you were the superhero or the princess. You were emotionally invested in the persona. Faking it at a young age gave you the freedom of your imagination and creativity to keep on putting on masks and trying them out as you got older. What stuck? What did you ultimately believe about yourself?

Emotions play a big role in all of our life pursuits. Emotions are our fuel. In his book, Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar writes, “Emotions cause motion; they provide a motive that drives our actions; emotion, motion, motivation are intimately linked.” It is absolutely emotion that is driving my son to seek his independence and declare his abilities to himself and the world. Whenever I try to talk to him about this big step he gets emotional just trying to talk to me. It is emotion that drives the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” It is with emotion that we chose the costumes that we did when we were little. Emotion feeds our determination to conquer whatever we choose to do in life.

I have to wonder what his personal questions were:

1)      What motivates me to consider this move?

2)      What is the opportunity?

3)      Who do I need to be in order to become who I want to be?

The philosopher and founder of American Psychology, William James believed that  ”acting a certain way could make you feel that way.” In the thought processes of “fake it ‘til you make it” that is exactly the case. Hundreds of experiments have proved this theory correct. For example, a Clark University study showed that smiling, whether on purpose or naturally induced, made people feel happier. Try this experiment when you don’t really feel like smiling, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds. Take notice of how you feel during the experiment and at the end. Keep trying it and you will start to believe in the emotional effects of smiling.

Perhaps you are not taking a leap of faith and going out to conquer the world in the way my son has decided to do. Perhaps you are or will be a new college graduate and wondering what now? We live in tough economic times and finding a job in your field of study is not easy. You may and probably will have to take a job way outside of your degree in order to start paying back those student loans. Will you fake it ‘til you make it? Will you have the self-confidence and positive attitude to push forward no matter what? What mask will you choose to wear so that people outwardly will believe in who you are trying to become inwardly, but more so that you will start to believe in who you are trying to become? In every job experience you will have you will always need to ask yourself these questions:

1)      What gives my life a sense of purpose?

2)      What do I enjoy doing?

3)      What am I good at?

Answering these questions might guide you toward a calling or help you get through each phase of your life in general. Staying true to who you are and how you answer these questions will always lead you to doing good work. You might not yet know the answers to these questions because you are about to test them all out in the real world. Fake it ‘til you make it. Try on different masks and costumes until you find what fits.

DO smile always. People are attracted to smiling people.

DO stand up straight and tall and proud whether you feel like it or not. People will believe in your inner strength if they see it outwardly.

DO contribute where and when you can. Talk to people and be part of conversations. Make an effort to believe that you have something to say because you know what, you do have something to say, you do have worth and substance; you are enough.

DO know that you are not alone. There is a world full of people faking it until they make it; practicing to become the person they want to be.

DO know your own strengths. Take time to discover all the great success characteristics about yourself. It will empower you to smile more, stand taller and contribute endlessly.

DON’T hide in corners or find distractions like using your cell phone too often in social situations. Make people see that they matter to you and you will matter to them. People like to feel validated (and so do you).

DON’T gossip. Don’t tell tall tales and don’t talk about others behind their backs.

Dr. Ben-Shahar writes, “Happiness at whatever level, does not require a constant experience of ecstasy nor does it require an unbroken chain of positive emotions. To be happy, we have to feel that, on the whole, whatever sorrow, trials, and tribulations we may encounter, we still experience the joy of being alive.” There was pure joy in wearing those costumes so long ago. There can be joy in allowing life to be the teacher now. Putting on the fake it ‘til you make it mask has a more positive impact on the overall experience.  Despite feeling frustrated or let down by not getting that all important job in your field of study right away, smiling anyway, choosing to take each experience for all it’s worth goes a long way to help you and everyone around you believe that you are right where you should be. I know that my son will have no choice but to fake it ‘til he makes it because as far as the real world is concerned he is a newbie and at the same time doesn’t want his inexperience to shine brighter than his determination.

At the University of Rochester, researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem. Those people that folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered twice as long as the people that did not display any body language. A study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers your willpower. Try some experiments to see if you can empower yourself to get through some tough moments.  Turn your have-to situations into want-to situations by readjusting your confidence and your attitude. Live “as if” this is exactly where you want to be, “as if” you are experiencing exactly what you hoped to experience. How we perceive the work we do, how we perceive the situations we are in matters more than the work or the situation. My son perceives his life’s journey to be in a different location from where he grew up, with different people surrounding him and influencing his perspective. He is approaching this with zest and humor and courage. What more could a mom ask for?

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

What thoughts will you produce? What actions will you take to make your moments uniquely you? Will you smile anyway, will you laugh anyway, and will you allow for gain in the experience? What words will you say to start living “as if…?” What about you will you allow to bear your signature? Fake it ‘til you make it and enjoy the ecstatic experience. Journey On…

 

If you would like to explore how coaching can help move your life forward powerfully and purposefully, email Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Journey On Coaching Services would like to extend condolences to the victims and their families of the tragic Boston Marathon Bombing. I encourage all my clients to give to the American Red Cross or any charity in support of a stronger, happier, healthier America.

Spring Clean Your Creativity

 

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Spring Clean Your Creativity

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt Disney Company

Does your mind runeth over with ideas and creativity? Do you ever find that your creativity is blocked and you feel lost as to what to do next? Sometimes when I’m writing I feel lost in either too much to write about or not enough topics to choose from and I freeze.

In those times I wish I could take a vacation from my mind, just leave it home and just breathe without wondering about everything there is to wonder about. It’s not really a good idea for me to do this because I’d lose a very important part of who I am. BUT…. What if I could spring clean my mind instead?

According to the gurus of positive psychology, the late Dr. Christopher Peterson and UPENN professor Martin Seligman, the act of creativity falls under the virtues heading of “wisdom and knowledge.” In their book Character Strengths and Virtues they write that “creativity is a cognitive strength of thinking that is used in novel and productive ways to understand and accomplish things. It is NOT limited to artistic expression alone.” In other words, you don’t have to be a musician or a painter to have creativity or to be creative.

Recently, I volunteered to do something creative that I’ve never done before: work with a colleague to produce a virtual-workshop to present to our coaching community. Our workshop was on the topic of home business loneliness and we specifically centered our presentation on loneliness prevention strategies that exist with regard to the mental isolation and geographical isolation of running your own home business. This was very challenging for me because I had high expectations for my presentation and also had certain content criteria I had to meet. I got clear in my mind about what I wanted to present and gave myself a pep talk. My mind, my brain, my spirit, my creativity were all challenged and as a result raised in consciousness.

The short story is that the workshop was a huge success filled to the brim with giveaways, resource lists, hope and passion. The long story is that it involved a lot of research, practice time, re-writes and a spring cleaning of my own personal doubts. I found that anxiety and perfectionism are the enemies of creativity. I stayed with my objective to meet my participants’ needs as well as maintain my passion for this subject. I needed to stay focused, creative and empathetic and curious.

The take away for me after stretching myself with this workshop is that everyone has the ability, capability and tools to be creative. We just have to clean out old notions of what creativity means and open our minds to what we can discover when the clutter clears away and we allow ourselves to explore the depth of our imaginations.

Where To Begin

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.”
Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

Where does one begin to spring clean the mind to discover creativity? I think it’s important to know that at its core creativity is valuable. This means, “The created product and its creator have brought beauty, elegance and/or function into the world”, so says Drs. Peterson and Seligman. They go on to say that “creativity is trait-like, meaning it’s an everyday creative who can use objects to create something new from something old.” For example: someone who rearranges furniture to create more pleasing aesthetics to a room and create better function, or the person that changes an ingredient in a recipe to make it their own dish. Creativity is and should be fulfilling. Creation on any level just feels good.

Just like when you get ready to spring clean your garage or attic, spring cleaning your mind to allow for expansive creativity opens emotional doors to worlds you’ve yet to discover.

Tina Turner said it best when she said, “Sometimes you’ve got to let everything else go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything….whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it, because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

In order to gain perspective, ask yourself:

1)      What is possible?

2)      Who will this affect/benefit?

3)      If this doesn’t lead to the result I want, would I still be glad I took the time to work on it?

Your answers should be personal because after all, creativity starts within your heart, mind, environment, soul depending on where the influences are allowed to flow from. If you are going to benefit, if you are going to be positively affected, if this is important to you, then everyone around you will benefit as well.

Every day “creatives” leave room for curiosity, open-mindedness and critical thinking. Are you an in the box every day creative meaning you only seek creativity within the structure of your daily routines or an out of the box everyday creative meaning that you follow where your thoughts and ideas lead you whether it is on the t0-do list for the day or a stimulus in your environment that caught your imagination? I am learning to be an out of the box every day creative by practicing it. I stay present in my daily agenda and goals but within those goals I let myself stay with a thought a lot longer than normal; I try not to only stick to my agenda, I do the creative things that I feel passionate about and allow myself to explore more deeply the things I am curious about, and I allow myself time to breathe and get clear so that I can be ready for the next idea to wash over me.

As scary as it was to create and deliver my workshop presentation, I allowed myself to enjoy the time spent on the research. I enjoyed the collaboration process with my colleague. The feedback from the participants was so much more than I could have ever imagined. The content was something I really resonated with and, therefore, it allowed for my own richness and passion to come through. Participants used words like empowering, uplifting, over-flowing. Passion and curiosity created content, content created interest, interest created exploration, exploration created creativity for out of the box research and open-mindedness.

Best- selling author, Michael Neill says,

“If we treat whatever stands in our way as an obstacle, we can bring the full creative resources of our mind to bear on the situation and find ways to get over, around, or through it.”

Being scared was my obstacle and I am so glad to have found a way to get over it and through it. I am armed for next time. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when facing your creative block or fear of being blocked creatively,

“You must to the thing you think you cannot do.”

What are some ideas we can all practice toward becoming more creative? To free our minds; to spring clean what we know and allow for the unknown to propel us toward new discoveries?  

10 Stepping Stones to Becoming more Creative:

1-      Meditation breathing: This allows for you to begin the positive open-minded flow of ideas

2-      Visualize: What do you want? Get clear, see your ideas. Make a vision board that shows in pictures, drawings and writing all that you intend and hope for.

3-      Stay present: Don’t spring too far ahead of you ideas that you start to feel overwhelmed or try not to fall too far behind that you become overwhelmed with trying to catch up.

4-      Don’t forget your funny bone: According to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher of the successful book, “The Levity Effect”, incorporate fun and humor into your agenda and project. Bring fun snacks, spin around in your chair while brainstorming, tell a joke, keep fun toys nearby like silly putty, paper airplanes, etc., play great music. Lightening up and approaching from a fun point of view allows for out of the box thinking and powerful creativity.

5-      Journal your journey: This will allow you to keep moving your thoughts and creativity forward and to remember what you want to achieve without the pressure of cluttering your agenda or goals.

6-      Get physical: Use warm up exercises to get you ready for the days’ tasks even if it’s physical tasks. This gets your mind, your heart and muscles determined and ready. It lets your happy cells and happy chemicals (endorphins) flow through you to feel energized toward your accomplishments. Physical can also mean taking a trip to a library, museum, park or perhaps a show to help you see even more of what your imagination needs to propel you toward your creativity.

7-      Recruit: If your task is too big for just you, ask for help. “The more the merrier” cliché applies here.

8-      Time Out: Music breaks, food breaks, journaling breaks, walking breaks. BUT…. be mindful of your break time. Taking too much time could cause your momentum to suffer.

9-      Step back, take notice: Allow for perspective and evaluation. Allow yourself to feel grateful for every tiny step you take toward your goal. Allow gratitude for your interpretation, your voice, your spirit.

10-   Celebrate: Acknowledge your success by celebrating your every accomplishment. Creativity is a celebration, a great and wonderful, out loud reflection of YOU. Be proud and celebrate.

Inspiration To Get You Started

I recently came across a story that I think gets to the heart of creativity:

An Old Sioux Legend

In ancient times, the Creator wanted to hide something from the humans until they were ready to see it. He gathered all the other creatures of creation to ask for their advice.

The eagle said, “Give it to me and I will take it to the highest mountain in all the land,” but the Creator said, “No, one day they will conquer the mountains and find it.”

The salmon said, “Leave it with me and I will hide it at the very bottom of the ocean,” but the Creator said, “No, for humans are explorers at heart, and one day they will go there, too.”

The Buffalo said, “I will take it and bury it in the very heart of the Great Plains,” but the Creator said, “No, for one day even the skin of the earth will be ripped open, and they will find it there.”

The creatures of creation were stumped, but then an old blind mole spoke up. “Why don’t you put it inside them—that’s the last place they’ll look.”

The Creator said, “It is done.”

In the very popular book “The Artist’s Way”, author and teacher Julia Cameron lists 10 basic principles of creativity. The one that resonates with me the most, the one that inspires me is her #4 principle: We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to create.”

The Vietnamese Zen Buddist monk, teacher, author, poet, Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Every thought you produce (create), anything you say (write, sing, etc…), any action you do, it bears your signature (creativity).”

Deepak Chopra writes, “The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”

To all of these great and wonderful inspirational thoughts and words I say, never stop creating who you are and who you want to be. No one suffers for your intuition, your courage, or your curiosity.

Spring is a great time for renewal, regeneration, release. Clean out what is holding you back and get your creativity on.

Call to Action

What did you take away from the Old Sioux Legend?

How can you use this legend to spark your creativity?

What would you like to explore this year, this spring, that you have been holding yourself back from exploring?

I challenge you to spring clean your mind and explore the endless possibilities of what you can allow yourself to see and what you allow yourself to find. All it takes is one thought, one idea, one spark and your big deep breath to say “I can do it.”