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Whose Shoes are You Trying to Fill?

You’ve probably heard of “acting as if” and “faking it until you make it.” Either way, it’s common advice that’s easy to misinterpret. People think it means that if they want to be accepted as an expert, all they have to do is copy the actions of an expert people already know, like, and trust. Do that, and of course, people will be more likely to know, like, and trust them now too. Right? Nope.
The problem is that no matter how much we want to emulate someone, trying to be like them isn’t going to get us to where they are. We can’t be that person—we can only be ourselves. However, there is a way to turn that future version of success into our reality. We just have to do more than “act.” We have to “do.”
The process of “do-ing” involves training your mind and/or body to do things you know you can do if you put your mind to it. For example, I could go out on the tennis court determined to act as if I’m a Top 10 tennis player about to win the US Open. (Feel free to stop and chuckle here because I did.) But, even in my wildest dreams, I know there’s no way this could happen! The result? I’m a lot less likely to invest any time and effort into trying to turn that dream into a reality.
On the other hand, I can absolutely identify skills Top 10 tennis players have and begin working on them because they are skills I know I can concentrate on. I can work on my backhand, my footwork, etc.
How does this relate to you as a speaker? It stands to reason that what works for a top speaker should work for us… but maybe not. We have this habit of looking at people and thinking we want to be like them when, if we’re being honest with ourselves, that’s probably not going to happen.
If you know me, then you know I’m not going to win a height contest. So what would be the point of me trying to learn how to physically master the stage the same way a top speaker who’s 6’ tall would? Especially when learning how to master the stage, as I am, is a much better step to take towards my success.
Instead of trying to be like other speaker experts and professionals you admire, or who have the kind of following you’d like to have, figure out what you like about them and then ask yourself: “Can I do that? Can I make that mine?”
Each of us has strengths, but, as every top athlete or speaker knows, you have to play to your strengths first, while at the same time working on shoring up your weaknesses. This is best accomplished with a game plan.
  1. Identify your speaker role models.
  2. Decide what it is you “like” about them versus what you’d like “to do” like them (big hint here—sometimes there’s a huge difference between the two).
  3. Figure out what actions you can take to start improving the skills and techniques you’ve identified.
  4. Pick one or two skills and/or techniques (max!) to start working on right now.
  5. Once you’ve mastered the first one, pick the next one on the list and get to work!
It’s very important to think BIG. The way to get big is to take action. Just don’t waste those actions on trying to fit into someone else’s “bigger” shoes. The only shoes you should ever need to fit into are yours. And that’s good. The world needs your expertise, which you need to share in your own unique way, from the comfort of your own shoes.
‘Til we speak again,
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