“If you want someone to develop a certain trait, treat them as though they already had it.” I recently ran across this Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote in a training video I was watching. I couldn’t help but reflect on my career and note that based on my personal experience, there absolutely seems to be truth in that statement. The positions in which I have exceled and experienced the greatest personal growth were those in which my mentors and/or clientele acted as though I already possessed the characteristics that I needed to perform well in each particular role.
“If you want someone to develop a certain trait, treat them as though they already had it.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Christy Haley AV Homes Blog- Cut to one morning last week. I walked into work and went to check my mailbox, as I normally do. Amongst the usual invoices and trade publications, there was a copy of an online article that had been printed out by one of our community residents. The title was “Why ‘Fat Talk’ is Bad for Reaching Weight Loss Goals,” and on it there was a hand written note saying it may be a good topic for me to discuss in one of my articles. She also noted that many of us fall into this trash talk about our bodies. This is very true and often the case in other aspects of our lives as well. How many times do I ridicule myself for forgetting an important task or date, call myself dumb for not thinking of a more creative solution to a problem, or myriad of other self-perceived faults and shortcomings? The answer is, “Way too often,” especially if any credence is to be put in Goethe’s observation.
The overall message delivered in the article about ‘Fat Talk’ was to find and listen to another voice in your head that isn’t so critical. In other words, treat yourself as though you already have the trait that you wish to develop, or at the very least, a person who is perfectly capable of developing this trait. In the case of reaching weight loss goals, researchers have found that listening to the inner voice that points out our failures results in a poor body image, higher levels of depression and more pressure to be thin. Instead, reaching our goals is much more likely if we’re focusing on our strengths and visualizing ourselves at our (healthy) goal weight.
In thinking about other areas of life that could potentially be improved by an inward adoption of Goethe’s philosophy, the possibilities seem limitless. How often does that harsh, critical inner voice impair what we may otherwise be capable of achieving? So here’s my mission over the next few weeks: I want to be more organized, both at home and at work. Although I’ve begun working towards that end, the truth is that I still believe myself incapable of the level of organization to which I aspire. Beginning now with you to hold me accountable, I’m going to envision myself as an organized person and work on treating myself as though I am already that person. Each time I catch myself engaging in negative self-talk or not treating myself as though I am meticulously organized, I will document it and make a conscious effort to redirect my inner voice in a positive direction. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next update.