Thursday, August 22, 2013

An Entrepreneur's Most Important Tool: Self-Delusion

Click here to read this article by A.J. Jacobs. He is an Editor at Large at Esquire magazine. The article is at "Linked in" so you may have to be a member.

The idea that an entrepreneur would have to tell themselves a story (or myth) to get things done is interesting. I wonder how much of our economic activity results from or requires us to tell ourselves stories.

Excerpts:
"As an author, I rely on self-delusion as much as I rely on my laptop, Wi-Fi access and excessive caffeine. For authors nowadays, each book is the equivalent of a startup company. You have to figure out your consumer, your unique approach, your budget, your marketing strategy.

And as with every startup founder, I spent some mornings during my last project battling pessimism and despair. Well, actually, most mornings. I was writing about my quest to be as healthy as possible. I’d wake up feeling the project was too big, too unwieldy. I had too many squats to do, too many diets to test. I’d never finish the manuscript.

My solution? Deception. I tricked my brain. I’d force myself to act in an optimistic way."

"This is not pseudo-scientific blather spouted bunkum-filled books like The Secret. The idea that your actions alter your thoughts is one of the foundations of cognitive-behavioral psychology and has been studied since the 19th century (both William James and Charles Darwin wrote about it).

Force your face into a smile, you will be happier. Sounds creepy, but it works.

A raft of studies have backed this up, including a recent one in the Journal of Psychological Science that showed fake smiles (or even holding a chopstick in your mouth to mimic the shape of a smile) lowered your heart rate in stressful situations. The book The As If Principle by psychologist Richard Wiseman cites plenty of other research, including how your posture affects confidence and risk-taking (a powerful, chest-out stance boosts esteem)."

"For instance, during the year, I had a friend in the hospital, and I really didn’t want to visit him. I hate hospitals. But I said, what would a good person do? And then I acted AS IF I were a good person. And when I was at the hospital, some part of my mind said, ‘I’m at the hospital. I must be compassionate.” And I became a little more compassionate. I tricked my own mind."

So if you tell yourself a myth (that you are a good person), then it affects your behavior.




1 comment:

  1. What amazes me most about business or someone going into business is this why is it that at times everything seems to go your way and at other times theirs always a roadblock to progress.

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