Teeth Biting Down, Action, Mind Over Matter, Joe GirardStop saying, “I just need to get motivated.” Science proves that action trumps motivation.

We hear it all the time. People want to get more done, they want to be successful, and they want to create change. But as humans, we don’t make these changes.

Instead, we make excuses. I do it. You do it. We all do it. Today I want to explain a concept that will get you moving on your next idea, whether you are “into it” or not. 

(click here or on the play button below to listen to this post)

We have all hear the saying “mind over matter” but what does it mean? It means that in order to accomplish something, you have to will yourself into doing it, or motivate yourself, or even manipulate yourself, right? And what happens? Well, often we fail.

You see, here’s the secret. We are NOT in control of our minds. As much as we would like to think we can predict our behavior and think rationally, we just can’t.  Well, not completely. Lately I have found myself diving headfirst into psychology, human behavior, neuroscience, and anything that helps me understand just what’s going on up in this crazy contraption we call our brain. And the stuff I’m learning is fascinating. Today is about the one aspect I truly believe in…

Getting things done.

Smile First, Feel Second

How many of us have heard of the customer service training of smiling before you answer the phone? I learned that years ago, and it always worked. Before you make a call or answer a call, take a moment and smile. Set that intention.

There is a classic experiment where they had participants hold a pencil between their teeth and read comic strips. One group had to place the pencil in their mouth sideways between their teeth with the ends sticking out the sides, while the other group put one end in their mouth and gripped it between their teeth like they would a straw. Then they were asked to rate how funny they found the comics. Guess what? the groups that had the sideways pencil had a dramatically higher funny rating than the other group. The reason? They forced their mouth into a smile with the sideways pencil versus a down turned frown with the end to end pencil. Try it!

Iron Jaw, Circus
Imagine walking in a room like Conchita, who was known as the “Iron Jaw Marvel.” This photo was found in the Capell collection.

Another idea came from a book I read years ago by Leil Lowndes called How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships. In it, she gives the advice about how to enter a room with a powerful presence – you know those people that just command attention when they walk in?. I love this advice so much that I share it with everyone and often demonstrate it because it is funny too. She says to imagine yourself as a trapeze artist before you walk in a room. Then imagine that there is that stick they put in their mouth (the one they bite on and spin around like in the picture) right at the height of your mouth in the doorway. Before you walk in the room, imagine biting down on that. It immediately creates the right posture, you force a smile, and you enter with a flourish! Try it!!

So don’t care if you’re happy. Smile and make it happen. That’s cray cray! (I can say that right?)

“Fake it Till You Make it” is Only Kinda Right

When I first started public speaking, training, and teaching, I was told that I had to “Fake it till I make it.”

I thought that was great advice and it kind of is when you just get started doing anything. The key to it is that you never want to tell your audience that you are new, or you’ve never done it, or that your nervous (the true sign of an amateur). Your audience wants to feel like you are in control and you are supposed to be there.

And the more your project that confidence, the more you feel confident.

But don’t stop there. What you should work on during the “fake it” stage is observing your own behaviors and emotions. As I’ve mentioned before about Thinking, Fast and Slow, we have two systems in our brains:

  1. System 1 – Unconscious, intuitive thought. Operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effect and no sense of voluntary control
  2. System 2 – Deliberate thought.  Allocates attention to the effort for mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. Operations of systems two are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.

Whether you are in a sales situation, speaking in front of an audience, or having a conversation, both systems are at work.

If you ever feel in a state of FLOW, you are primarily using system 1. Your goal is to tap into that system 2 and start to see where you can bring in deliberate thought.

Basically, work towards stepping out of yourself and watching the way you behave, think and act. I know that sounds a bit weird, but trust me.

So take action. TODAY. On something.

I am throwing a challenge at you.

Take something you have been wanting to do that you have been putting off. Maybe a phone call, a project, or whatever. Stop trying to motivate yourself to do it and GO DO IT.

How many time do you tell yourself, “I just don’t feel like it…?”

I don’t care if you don’t feel like it. Set a plan and DO. And do it completely. Check your emotions at the end. Do you feel better, worse, or the same? Next time you try and use willpower, remember action over mind over matter.

And if you like these topics, I will be sharing a bunch more stuff on psychology, neuroscience, priming, anchoring, behavior, and influence in the coming weeks. Make sure you have subscribed below.

Also, if you haven’t seen it, check out my interview with Dr Issac Jones here.  He is launching something very cool soon that I will be a part of. Exciting stuff…

Leave your comments below and perhaps even use it to hold yourself accountable! PS, how do you like the look of the new site? Go to the homepage and let me know in these comments. More to come very soon…

Joe Girard
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    3 replies to "Action Over Mind Over Matter"

    • Aline Stylecoach

      I can only agree with you, Joe, as I am (unfortunately) a “chronic procrastinator” and as such, lack of motivation is my number 1 excuse not to act. On the other hand, nothing gives me more sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and even motivation than getting things done, especially if it is something I’ve been postponing for long or something I thought I wasn’t able to do/accomplish. Guess I need to do more of that, don’t you think? 🙂 Thanks for sharing this awesome article.

      • Joe Girard

        I always try to resist the urge to say to myself that I am a (insert negative trait here) because it immediately categorizes me as such. It often stops us from making the necessary changes. Instead of a “chronic procrastinator,” try saying “I constantly struggle with procrastination” because then you can do something about it. Read articles and books like “Getting Things Done” by David Allen or “Traction” or “Get a Grip” by Wickman. Then, as part of your procrastination plan, find ways you can improve. And REWARD yourself just for the learning first. I’m guilty, just like everyone, of not telling myself I’ve done good work unless it is a major project. We should all celebrate the small victories. And most importantly, appreciate the fact that we even have choices in the first place. I have had to keep reminding myself that the long process is the right one. What’s the rush? Do the right things slowly.

    • […] that happens, I have to remind myself that I KNOW what to do. I take my own advice about “action over mind over matter” and I sit down and write out a plan. Or perhaps, like I did the other week, I organize my […]

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