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Fake it until you Make it! Your Self Image and its Effects on Your Performance

Believe it or not, your performance is limited.

However, that limitation to what you can do with your life, in your job or in your sport, is primarily defined by you and not by outside factors.

Take for example Roger Bannister who broke the record for the 4-minute mile in 1954, probably long before you were born. Roger had been told, as had all athletes for the decade before that it wasn’t physically possible, and was even dangerous, to run a mile or 1.6 KM in under 4 minutes. In fact, the record remained at 4.01 minutes for over 9 years and gifted athletes and their coaches had taken the 4-minute mile as a challenge since 1886. So after almost 70 years of global effort to break the record, how did Roger Bannister break it and why is it that now even gifted high school athletes, regularly break the 4-minute mile

Roger Bannister was a gifted runner. He competed in the Olympics in 1952 and came 4th in the 1500m after which he decided that he would concentrate on breaking the 4-minute mile. He trained specifically to break the record and recruited others around him who also believed it could be done. On a cold windy day in 1954 Bannister did what many people thought would never be possible. He broke the 4-minute mile with a time of 3:59.4.

Once Bannister broke the record, the 4-minute mile no longer stood as a mental barrier for other runners. In fact just 46 days later an Australian runner John Landry broke Bannister's record with a time of 3:58 for the mile. Within a year numerous other runners had achieved the perceivably impossible feat of breaking the 4 minute mile

So, what does this have to do with your performance? The truth of the matter is that our bodies will master what our brains believe is possible. Most of us never perform beyond the limits of the way that we see ourselves and those limits are what we focus on each and every day. We are setting limits for ourselves and we don’t even notice. How many times have you set a limit based on your age, your income, your family of origin, your sex or your culture, someone’s commentary on you, or even a mark you got for some of your work in elementary school?

It is unfortunate that we let our minds get in the way of our possible achievements. Yet it happens for each of us daily. If we want to live an extraordinary life, we need to start believing that we are extraordinary. We need to figure out a way to trick our brains into believing that we are great, that we can overcome obstacles, and achieve our goals and dreams no matter how large they are.

In order to achieve greatness, we need to pretend that we are successful. Fake it until you Make It. Think back to your greatest accomplishments. My guess is if you are like anyone else, you probably started on the road to that accomplishment with nothing more than just an idea. A thought that perhaps one day something might change. You didn’t understand the effort that would be involved and the energy you would have to put into the tasks to ensure that you would be successful. Yet you stuck with it, and the concept of what success looked like grew until one day you achieved something that was only a dream. Perhaps the results amazed you and those around you.

Now think about what you want to accomplish. You have dreams and goals for yourself that you have written down, or simply clearly imagined. You know what it is going to take to achieve those goals. Why not start by seeing yourself as that person who can achieve that greatness.

Whether you want to be a superstar leader, salesperson, athlete, spouse, parent, engineer, or rocket scientists, the key to being successful is believing in yourself. A self image statement is one of the best ways to do this. By creating an image of what you want to become you are on the road to success. Here are a couple examples of what a self image statement might look like.

“I have talent and drive and I am the best shooter on the team.”

“My employees think I am the best boss they ever had because I care and spend time each day making sure they have the tools to do their job correctly”

“I am the top salesman in the company and my customers keep coming back to me because I give them special attention. They know that I want them to get great results”

You may not be the best boss, best shooter, or top salesman now, yet this is exactly what we need to be telling ourselves if we are going to fake it until we make it. How we see ourselves is what we will become. If we continue to focus on our failures instead of what we want to become, our lives will never achieve the greatness that we are destined to accomplish. Having a positive self image can be the difference between high performance and mediocre performance in all aspects of our life.

Robert White, the author is quoted as inviting his readers to greatness and he says:

“My invitation to you is to begin living every moment as though you are miraculous and deserve to live an extraordinary life. Fake it if you must and keep faking it until it's real to you. The gift you will be giving yourself is a lifelong journey of discovery, one that is infinite and infinitely rewarding. Begin the journey. Today. This moment. Now.”

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an Award Winning Certified Professional Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Feel like you are faking it? Email


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