Rule #17: Act Your Way into Feeling (not Vice-Versa)

The Cult of Self-esteem rests on the assumption that if kids feel good about themselves, they’ll do good things. In my experience, the opposite is true: If kids do good things, they’ll feel good about themselves.

When I worked in a sales organization in the early 80s, I heard many a salesperson fight through the very real phenomenon of “call reluctance” with pledges to “I need to… Get psyched! Then I can really get on a roll!”

The president of the company would then counter these assertions with this adage: “You’re more likely to act your way into feeling, than feel your way into acting.”

At first, I didn’t understand. Eventually, this phrase became one of the central themes of my teaching and coaching.

I could not count the number of kids (or adults!) who say, “If only I could stop procrastinating, then I could tackle my: a) term paper, b) athletic workout, c) science project, 4) laundry, 5) all of the above.” That’s feeling your way into acting. It doesn’t work.

So, stop whatever you’re doing and devote 10 minutes to whatever task is at hand: laundry, homework, the lawn, sales calls, etc. Then stop after 10 minutes and see how you feel. That’s acting your way into feeling. That works.

So, don’t wait around for inspiration to come to you.  Start moving.  You’ll feel good about it.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld