When you were a kid, I bet you used to pretend a lot.
You pretended you were a doctor and played the game “Operation.”
You pretended to be a millionaire as you gobbled up all the properties playing “Monopoly.”
You pretended to be a wizard, like Harry Potter, or a gymnast or baseball player.
You pretended you were a superhero and played with your friends to save the world.
Or maybe you pretended to be a dinosaur, a cat, dog, or cheetah racing down the street or running around in your back yard.
In today’s world, you probably have an Avatar or other digital character that you pretend to be, that you assume while playing video games on your phone.
Pretending allows us to tap into our imaginations. It allows us to assume another persona we desire to be.
We conjure up an image of who that person is, and in a flash, we become that person. Then, like magic, we take on the characteristics of that person.
We talk and act like them. We engage in behavior they would engage and that we would never otherwise engage in. We dress like them and find a pretend sword or other prop your pretend character needs to win.
We raise our arms in victory because inevitably whoever that persona is, they’re a winner!
We do things our “normal person” would never dare to do.
We “act as if and go as though” we ARE that person. We BELIEVE we ARE that person, and because of that, we BECOME that person.
What fascinates me about this is how fast we go from a shy 7 year-old little girl in a light blue dress to WONDER WOMAN, fiercely fighting the evil doers of the world.
Kids do this in a nano second. More than once a day on average. Their creativity and imagination are endless.
And then those kids, we, grow up.
Some people keep that imagination stage of their lives alive. They know without doubt who they are, who they aspire to be, what they want to do, and live their lives with an obsessive passion toward becoming and eventually being that person that every day. Some do.
But many people don’t. Many people lose their ability to imagine themselves as anything other than who they see in the mirror any given morning. Statistics prove that typically more than 90% of people never accomplish the goals they once set for themselves. What a tragedy…
Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the minority. You’re in with the people who are doing something to learn from the people who do achieve what they set out to do.
People like you, then, with a prosperity mindset, see a different image.
They see the person they ASPIRE to be, not the person they are today.
They not only see that person, but they “pretend” to BE that person as they pursue the person they aspire to be.
They take on the characteristics of that person. They dress like them. They talk like them. They read the books that person would read. They join communities that person would be part of.
They do the things that person would do LONG before the person they aspire to be actually IS the person staring back in the mirror at them.
This concept, this principle of prosperity of acting as if and going as though, might be foreign to you in your adulthood. But I’m willing to bet you’ll remember those examples of what it was like when you were a child pretending to be someone or something else.
Let me share an example of a time in my career where I pretended to be in the job I aspired to have before I retired.
First, some context. About 11 years ago, my role was Director, Internal Communications for the U.S. Pharmaceutical business at Bayer.
In a conversation with my boss, she asked me what my aspiration was – where I wanted to be in 5 years. I told her I wanted to lead the internal communications function at a large company. Note, that job did not exist at the company I worked at then.
Like an admired leader, my boss made sure I got opportunities to grow and develop by giving me assignments with responsibility outside my regular work so that I could gain the skills needed to be able to do the job I aspired to have – even if it wasn’t going to be at my company.
So, on top of my day job, my boss asked me to lead communications for a huge change program the company embarked on. This involved consolidating in one new location our 4 health care businesses in 5 different locations in NJ and NY, impacting 2500 employees.
The project was not only a site consolidation and move disrupting 2500 employees’ lives, but the new site would also be 100% open space. 65% of our employees had private offices. The change was enormous. And no other site at my company had a set up like this.
We were breaking new ground, literally and figuratively, with this move and new way of working, that a lot of people didn’t like or believed was the right move for our business.
My boss also had me attend a leadership assessment program in Germany where I got to participate with 20 other leaders in a week-long set of scenarios, presentations, group exercises, and the like. We had to stretch our skills, lead through ambiguity, work with people we never met, and figure stuff out quickly, under pressure.
These were both tests as to whether I had what it takes to advance to a Vice President role and lead an internal communications function in a large company. These were tests to see if I could actually perform the role I aspired to have.
I had to PRETEND I was functioning at a higher level. I had to ACT AS IF AND GO AS THOUGH I was doing the do – being the VP – before the role even existed.
What did that look like?
- I took on work I never did before.
- I dealt with and successfully handled problems and challenges I never dealt with before.
- I worked with people I never worked with before.
- I made decisions, asked for support, got money for programs, and advocated for things I knew had to get done to be successful.
- I led my team in new ways to help them grow, stretch, and develop with me in uncharted territory.
How did I handle all this?
- I maintained clarity on the goal while not losing sight of my regular work.
- I connected with my team, key players, involved and engaged others (including adversaries – there is much to learn from people who disagree with the decisions you are committed to supporting), and maintained and built relationships that I needed to help me get things done.
- I made caring about the people a priority. Whether it was my team, the team leading the site project, or the people I met at the assessment program, I cared about the impact my work would have on them and the outcome.
- I mustered up a lot of courage. I took risks, made decisions without having all the facts, gave presentations to people I didn’t know, and led my team through new challenges we hadn’t faced before.
My mantra – and soon my team’s mantra became – we’ll figure it out! We didn’t have all the answers but trusted in ourselves and the process enough to keep going. All this helped me and my team build credibility.
People watched what we did and frankly, were amazed at what we got done and the positive impact we had. We functioned at a higher level. We successfully supported significant transformational change programs that actually worked – that achieved what they set out to achieve. We produced award-winning work. We kept our sense of humor, laughed and had fun!
Remember the job I wanted? To lead the internal communications function at a large company? My aspiration? Guess what?
The Vice President level role, which did not exist at my company when I was performing the work at that level, materialized.
At the end of the day that we held the official opening ceremonies for our new site, I was offered a new job at my company, VP of Internal Communications.
I acted as if and went as though I already had that job before long that job existed. I proved I could do the job before it was even a role, and when I did, it was clear I was the perfect candidate for it.
At the conclusion of the leadership assessment program, my rating was this: Ready for the next level position now. That was 2 years before the job I got promoted into even existed.
I share this story because the very act of doing the do, of pretending you already ARE the person you want to be, or have the role you want to have, brings opportunities to you.
Go on faith. Do the do. Prove you can do it.
Demonstrate you can be the person you want to be, and the Universe, which is watching you and listening to you all the time, presents you with what you want when you are ready to receive it.
When you “act as if and go as though” you’re signaling that you’re getting ready, or perhaps proving you already are.
To your prosperity!