We falsely believe we can just think ourselves to a new identity

If we just know what we want, we’ll get it right?

Or maybe we’ve got it all backwards.

According to Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the London Business School, life works the opposite: “Doing comes first, and knowing comes second”.

Our identities define themselves by what we do and what actions we take, not based on what we think we’d like to do.

So let’s say you want to get good at talking to women. There’s two approaches you can take: you can sit around and think to yourself how much you’d like to talk to women.

But the problem is that when a pretty girl walks by you and you don’t go and say hi, your identity has just reinforced itself as “the guy who’s too afraid to talk to pretty girls”.

Which keeps you stuck, and feeling a lack of abundance.

On the other hand, if you actually go and talk to that girl, even if you’re scared shitless, even if you don’t know what to say, your mind is going to re-orient itself and say “damn right, I’m the guy whos not afraid to make a move”.

Normally our identities evolve naturally and gradually overtime, but sometimes we hit a point which requires urgent identity updates – perhaps we recently broke up with a girl and are suddenly single, or found out she was cheating, or got fired from a job, or a close family member passed away, whatever it might be, suddenly our world has been ripped apart, we’ve seen the truth and we’re forced to suddenly upgrade our identities.

So we tend to try to think our way out of our situation. We change out our old identity, for a shiny new one. We switch from the quiet nerd, to the outgoing playboy, seemingly overnight.

But what happens?

We get stuck. It was too much, too soon.

As Richard Pascale, with an MBA from Harvard Business School, talks about in Surfing the Edge of Chaos, “Adults are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking, than to think their way into a new way of acting”.

And as much as we might not like it, we can’t suddenly become version 2.0 of ourselves, we must go through a (probably painful) transition period.

This transition is the hero’s journey.

A perilous and difficult journey, where our world as we know it is ripped apart, and we forge a new identity using blood, sweat, tears and shear determination, by taking action every day. Eventually slaying the dragon, and saving the princess.

We don’t become the king simply by thinking we want to be kings, we become kings by taking the actions kings would take.

But we’re stuck with a problem…how do you take action if you haven’t thought about what you want?

As laid out in Pscycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, we must first see a clear image in our head of what we want, before we can do it.

So a first step could be as simple as envisioning yourself as “I’m a guy who’s good with women”. Don’t get caught up on all the details, or problems, or issues that could happen.

Don’t think about all the rejections, fears, and anxieties, and don’t worry about all the people who say “just be yourself”. Just focus on “I’m a guy who’s good with women”.

But next, and this is most important, don’t sit around just thinking about it and trying to solve every problem, or every issue in your head. START TAKING ACTION.

Be the guy who’s good with women.

A lot of guys tell themselves they want to get good with women, and then just sit around watching youtube videos and never actually take action themselves.

If you ask me, it’s a complete waste of this short life we have.

So get out there and be good with women.

– Jared Psych Laurence

Founder, Modern Flirting

Author: The Psychology of Modern Flirting

Dating Mentor and International Speaker, San Diego

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