Military units have long had mottos to help guide their members to their desired vision of what their members should be like.
Old families too.
Ancient institutions like the Royal Family and universities have had mottos since their beginnings.
So why shouldn’t you?
One classic military motto is:
Royal Gurkha Rifles: Better to die than live a coward.
My favourite educational one is:
Monash University: Ancora Imparo (I am still learning)
A motto acts like a heuristic. It acts like a mental shortcut you can use in times of uncertainty, stress and panic.
Imagine you were a Gurkha with the motto above: Better to die than live a coward.
Pretty hardcore right?
Every day at mealtimes, you saw that on your regimental crest.
Your fellow brother soldiers said that. Your regimental forebears said that. You say that.
You end up believing in that to your bones and to your soul. I’m better dead than being a coward.
So when the time comes, you don’t even think about running away. You stay steadfast.
Better to die than live a coward.
That’s the power of a motto.
The motto that me and Angelique have adopted is an unofficial motto from the US Marine Corps (and from Clint Eastwood in the US Marine Corps classic movie Heartbreak Ridge)
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
I love this motto. It’s now mine.
Nothing ever goes to plan. Ever.
So when things go awry, you can either stay stuck in the headlights and complain that things haven’t gone to plan, or you can take swift action and keep moving forwards.
Improvise and adapt. Then overcome.
If you don’t get a raise. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Make yourself more valuable.
If you lose a court case. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Cut your losses and let it go.
If you don’t make the team. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Train harder and learn how to win.
If you don’t get the girl. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Make yourself more attractive.
If you fail. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Get up, assess why you failed and make a new plan.
It’s a remarkably positive and practical motto that keeps me upbeat and focused on solutions.
Now it’s your turn.
What could be your motto? What kind of person do you want to be? What motto could help you stay on track towards that vision of yourself?
Let me know in the comments below!
For lots of guys, changing up your style can be an uncomfortable experience.
Loads of thoughts start running through your head.
“That’s a bit tight. Won’t I look like I’m trying too hard?”
“I could never pull that off.”
“Only tall models would look good in that.”
“My mates are going to take the piss out of me.”
And then you think twice about your style change. You stick with what you know. With what’s comfortable. What’s safe.
Unknowingly, you’ve just met with what Steven Pressfield calls The Resistance.
In his book The War of Art, Pressfield calls anything that gets you away from the path (in his case creativity and the creation of art) as Resistance, obstacles that you put in the way.
Many of these things are of your own doing.
Take the above thoughts running through your head.
There are two ways to approach these. You can run away or you can smash them down.
I think you can guess which I’m advocating.
Defeating Your Internal Resistance
It’s all very well people saying ‘Get confident’. But how do you just magic confidence out of thin air?
I’ve got two methods
1) The method I recommend for acquiring comfort and confidence is the Steadily Increasing Exposure Method.
Simply put, you’ve got to gradually increase your exposure to the new state you’re aiming for.
For example, if you want to wear a blazer and jeans combo, but you’ve never done this before, don’t just jump straight into a situation that you know you’ll feel uncomfortable in, like a large gathering of friends and family.
Try baby steps first. Wear the outfit down to the shops where you know you won’t encounter anyone you know. Then go for coffee in it. Realise that no one is looking at you in a weird way.
Then try going for dinner with your other half in it. Or with your family.
Who knows, you might even get some compliments out of it.
Or you might not. This is the worst case scenario and it’s worth pointing out that it’s not that bad an outcome!
If someone says you look weird or you’re trying too hard, who cares?
Ask them why they think so. What’s their feedback?
Are they style authorities or are they just negative people who love to pull you down.
In which case, you can attach less weight to their opinions. They’re just being negative.
For objective feedback, go to someone you trust. Hell, come to me. Send me a pic of your outfit and I’ll be honest AND constructive.
2) The Smash Your Self-Doubt To Smithereens Method
This is all about getting to a place in your head where you just don’t care what people think of the way you look.
Go so far outside your comfort zone and boundaries that everything becomes comfortable.
Wear fancy dress down the street. The more ridiculous the better.
Wear really tight tops and tiny shorts.
Who cares if people are looking? They’re not going to say anything.
This is about recalibrating your comfort threshold or more accurately your discomfort threshold.
Go shopping for groceries in fancy dress. Enjoy the attention, good or bad.
Soon you’ll get comfortable. Soon you just won’t care. This happens after about 10 mins.
Congratulations. You’ve successfully adjusted your own discomfort levels.
You’ve realised that the world won’t end if people are looking at you for the way you look.
So now let’s get back on the style journey and get you looking how you want to look!
Let me know in the comments about your internal resistance and how you plan to overcome it!
This TED Talk by Amy Cuddy on how deeply your body language affects you is one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time.
Professor Cuddy demonstrates just how closely linked the physical is with the psychological.
We heard of psychosomatic, where your mind can influence your body, eg when anxiety affects your bodily health.
Cuddy explains how our body language affects our mental states, i.e. the reverse is also true.
For example, if you’re hunched over, with your shoulders rolled forward, looking down at the ground, it’s likely that you’re in a nervous state of mind.
Now exaggerate the opposite posture. Sit back, lean backwards, open up your chest, breathe deeply and you’re likely now feeling more relaxed, less anxious and more at ease.
We can exaggerate this further.
There’s a universal pose for victory and feeling victorious. Studies show that even those unable to see make this pose.
Try this pose for 30 seconds. Really lean back and feel the victory.
How do you feel now? Pretty good I bet!
The causation flows both ways. Feeling powerful makes you more likely to exhibit powerful poses.
But interestingly, posing powerfully can make you feel more powerful!
What can we learn from Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on Body Language?
If you’re an anxious person or lacking in confidence, this has the potential to change your life.
You know now that your body can genuinely influence how you feel.
This gives you a framework and a toolkit to almost instantly change your mental state.
So before an interview, go to the bathroom and power pose. Do a few minutes of the victory pose.
In the interview itself, recognise that at the bare minimum, how you sit has consequences.
If you’re hunched over and making yourself feel small, that’s how you’re going to feel and this will translate to the interviewer.
Similarly, without going overboard, sit in a powerful way. Legs apart, head up, shoulders and back square.
If you get nervous on dates, do the same. Stop yourself fidgeting, looking at your hands, and guard against a slumping posture.
In general, try being mindful of your posture and how you hold your body.
I have quite bad posture.
When I’m sitting at my desk, I tend to hunch forward. I don’t hold my head up. I lean on my left elbow.
Whilst cooking today, I realised that my posture was poor. I corrected it immediately but it’s amazing how quickly I regressed to poor posture.
Catch yourself during the day.
How are you sitting or standing now? Could your posture be better? Improve it now!
Reinforces just how linked mind and body are
There are plenty of recent books that deepen our understanding of how the body and mind work together (or against each other).
For example, see Coates’ The Hour Between Dog and Wolf for how physical hormonal states such as testosterone and cortisol affect our mental states.
Cuddy’s findings on body language might just be the tip of the iceberg.
In the same way that power poses encourage powerful feelings, imagine what the associated body language is for feeling relaxed, or for feeling creative, or feeling joyful?
Check out the TED page for this talk.
Here’s Amy Cuddy’s HBS profile.