I was reading an article on Dwight D. Eisenhower this morning. The article said that Eisenhower’s remarkable optimism was not by birth or destiny, but rather by self-determined intent. It reminded me of an essential piece of core training for the brain.
It’s a crucial piece that was handed down by Aristotle. And many leaders, men and women who have taken up the project of self-growth by decision rather than destiny, have used it down through time.
Aristotle said, (and I paraphrase) ‘If you want a virtue, act as if you already have it. And then it will be yours.’ This ‘ACT AS IF’ principle has gone through many iterations over the years. But it’s essential teaching remains the same. Act first and then you will become what you pretend to be!
During the war, Eisenhower used this principle to maintain confidence and optimism in front of his troops. He felt it a requisite precondition for maintaining the morale of his men.
You too can use this principle in your life. First act, then be! Act as if you are what you want to be and you shall become it!
- Clarify your intention. Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?”
- Make a list of how you feel this kind of person would behave. What would they do? How would they act? What words would they speak?”
- Just do it! Start doing the things that you have listed.
- Move from theory to practice (we call this praxis). Get up every day and recommit again and again to the praxis of acting as if you are who or what you want to be!