I first heard the phrase “act as if” about fifteen or twenty years ago. I remember learning that if we “act as if” we already have something we want, “act as if” something is already occurring in our lives (even if it’s not), or “act as if” we know how to do something (even if we don’t) – we create the conditions for it to manifest in our life with greater easy and probability.
In recent years, this concept has been popularized and even mainstreamed by books, films, and teachers talking about the “law of attraction” (i.e. like attracts like, thoughts create things, we get what we focus on, etc.)
This past week Michelle and I watched a wonderfully inspiring documentary film called Act As If, which had a profound impact on me. The film is about Kathy Delaney-Smith, the head women’s basketball coach at Harvard University. Kathy, who comes from a working class background and didn’t have much basketball or coaching experience, used the power of “acting as if” to become a very successful coach at one of the most elite institutions in the world. She has also used her “act as if” philosophy to teach, train, and inspire her players both on the off the court for the past thirty years.
Most poignantly, Kathy used the power of her mind and her thoughts to act as if she were healthy and strong as she successfully battled through a life-threatening bout of breast cancer. Her story, strength, and attitude are inspiring and courageous.
The message of this film spoke to me on a few different levels. First of all, it brought the worlds of sports and the power of our thoughts and intention together in a meaningful way, which I appreciated. Second, Kathy’s personal story and her approach with her players are both important things we can benefit from, learn from, and take to heart (in business, parenting, teamwork, relationships, and life in general). And, finally, it reminded me how important it is to be conscious of my thoughts, my intentions, and my beliefs.
As I’ve been reflecting on it more, I realize that although I understand the concept of “acting as if” and I write, speak, and teach about how we have the power to create our own reality, in certain areas of my life – especially the ones that are most important to me or the ones where I feel the most cynical and resigned, I often pay “lip service” to acting as if, while simply hoping things will get better, worrying that they won’t, or allowing the outcome to determine how optimistic or pessimistic my outlook and approach will be.
This has been a sobering, but important realization for me this week. There is a big difference between knowing something and living it.
“Acting as if” is about believing in things that don’t currently exist and that there may not be much evidence for. This is about living a “faith-based” life, not an “evidence-based life.” The term “faith-based” often gets used in a political, social, or moral context when talking about initiatives or organizations that are connected with the church or some specific organized religion. However, being a faith-based person, while it can and often does encompass our religious beliefs and our spiritual practices, is even broader than this.
When we choose to live with a strong faith in things not seen, not proven, and not guaranteed – we tap into the power of the possible and we supersede the literal and predicable.
Wayne Dyer wrote a great book a number of years ago called You’ll See it When You Believe it. So many of us, myself included, live important aspect of our lives with the silent mantra of “I’ll believe it when I see it” and in doing so we hold ourselves back, limit what’s possible, and negate the power of our mind, imagination, and intention to allow and create things, situations, experiences, and outcomes that are new, unpredictable, and even miraculous.
For some of us the idea of “acting as if” is basic and fundamental, for others of us it may be new and/or more difficult, and for still others it may seem out there and quite esoteric. Regardless of how we relate to this idea, we’ve all experienced it in our lives in big and small ways. Kathy Delaney-Smith demonstrates it in the Act As If film in a powerful way through her coaching, her battle with cancer, and how she lives life.
The question for us to ask ourselves is, “What am I acting as if will happen in the most important areas of my life right now?”
We often get exactly what we expect – which is a pretty powerful concept if we take time to let it in and live with that awareness. Instead of waiting to see how things turn out, hoping that they will get better, or simply allowing the circumstances and situations in our lives determine how we feel – what if we acted as if we had everything within us and around us that we need to be successful, happy, and fulfilled already – which we do, by the way!
Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com