Declare Yourself An Expert, Then Work Backwards

Robert Greene, the author of 48 Laws of Power, supposedly couldn’t muster any “power” in his social interactions — so he wrote a book on how to become a power broker.

Martin Seligman, the author of Learned Optimism, supposedly was a depressed man who couldn’t be an optimist — so he wrote on book on the power of optimism.

John Gray, the relationship guru and author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, has supposedly been married several times.

Robert Frost, the great American poet, was a physically lazy man, yet work featured prominently in his poems.

Maybe the way to become an expert on something is simply to declare yourself so, and then work backwards. If you want to be a writer, for example, tell everyone you know you’re a writer. Every time someone asks you what you do, tell them you’re a writer. Before long, it’ll be true.

(Hat tip to Kai Chang and Marci Alboher for sparking this post)

6 Responses to Declare Yourself An Expert, Then Work Backwards

  1. Zoli Erdos says:

    Cheer your way into Bulls**t Economy:-)

    Seriously, Ben, this may very well be the first time I really disagree with you. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in consulting .. but I’ve seen way too much hyped-up, inflated “expertise” that turns out to be empty BS. The “American Consumer” buys it, so I’m not saying it’s not a recipe for personal wealth-building, I just think you’re better than embracing it. :-)

  2. Vince Williams says:

    Surely you jest, Ben.

    I’d say that a powerless person can learn how to exercise power in social interactions but still be powerless if he doesn’t have access to a network where he can exercise it. He might acquire that network, though, if he writes a successful book, even if it’s b.s.

    A person who has several failed marriages might acquire the insights to be a credible advisor on how to succeed in personal relationships– even Dear Abby (Pauline Phillips) was divorced (once).

    Someone who’s never done physical labor could observe working people and perhaps even write tellingly about them.

    But no one can be a writer by declaring himself to be such, without doing the ‘work’.

  3. Ben Casnocha says:

    The point here is that if you tell yourself and others that you ARE something / somebody, you increase your chance of actually becoming it. Of course you can’t just say “I’m a writer” and the next second be a writer. :-) But that’s a start.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I call BS.

  5. krishna says:

    When you `declare’ you are something, then there’s every urge, intuition and instinct within you which reminds you of what you want to be, however wishful that looks currently. It gives you a sense of direction, discipline, urgency and manner to pursue that goal.

    Let me put it in a negative instance (Ben has hinted in a positive light) like this. When you want to kick smoking, the best way to do that is to start declaring you are a non-smoker amongst friends, family and choose a non-smoker cabin/seat while traveling. This way when you get the urge to puff, you are reminded of that declaration / choice you just made, and the eventual embarrassment of having to face snarky stares or even risk being thrown out. By persisting with such pre-emptive ways, you’ll realize the urge has blurred and by not giving in ( forced by circumstances initially), you take complete control of your life.

    Are we one, Ben !

  6. Vince Williams says:

    I knew what you meant, Ben, but I don’t think you made it clear in your post.

    Like Zoli, I’ve met too many bs’ers who talked a good talk, but couldn’t deliver the goods.

    I get your point. Successful athletes, for example, visualize themselves making the perfect move, and are thus neurally more prepared to accomplish it. It’s zen practice.

    I think you are a good proof of that. ;-)

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