I was talking to a male friend of mine this morning who popped by before going for a job interview and he asked me if I believed in the concept of “faking it til you make it”. In fact his exact question was “can a leopard change it’s spots if the environment needs it to do so for survival?” Some days my friends get the life coach answer which goes along the lines of that which you focus on your brain moves towards so visualising a confident version of himself already having achieved the job and being welcomed into the firm would help his mindset affect his performance in the interview. If you are ready for change the best way to achieve it is to act like you already have. Don’t let fear take hold and distract you from the goal which is to get that job!

Just as imagination can fuel fear, it can also disarm it. You have the power to make your fears bigger than they are, which tends to be a natural instinct, so your brain can notice the perceived threat to the survival of your wants. You also have the ability to make the fear smaller than it is, or exactly as it is. Dampening down fear to a level that is less than it actual is, is no better than denial. The key here is to see the fear for exactly what it is, no bigger, no smaller, but also to use your imagination to be more resourceful with the gifts that you do have. If you shut off your gifts by constantly saying these gifts are not available to you, then you are limiting your resourcefulness. When you fight fear with only the tangible things you have, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

I often tell my clients, if you want to appear more confident, then imagine how the confident version of you would stand, dress, talk and carry themselves, then do it. Positive thinking will only get you so far, you have to apply the strategies a life coach gives you.

But today my friend needed more, an IP lawyer with a strong scientific background he needed hard facts and that’s when I found myself turning into Jennifer Aniston in the L’Oreal advert (complete with flick of my hair) when I said – here comes the science bit and proceeded to tell him that there is a wealth of scientific and anecdotal evidence in support of ‘faking it until you make it’. It is a fact that when men adopt a powerful dominant alpha male pose that their hormone levels change. There is also scientific evidence that genes can be altered (amplified or dampened) by behavioural changes. Research has shown that there is a reverse linkage between facial muscles and emotion. Something as subtle as a smile can elicit a warm feeling both inside and out, making one more likeable and approachable. Standing in a superhero pose for 2 minutes before tackling a task has also been shown to have interesting and productive outcomes on performance.

Science has already proved that you can change your psychology by changing your physiology. Therefore a small change such as standing in a more confident manner, head held high with a smile on your face is without a doubt going to heighten one’s ability to exude confidence. The catch is turning these small changes into habits making the short-term effects last longer. Perception is key to positive change whether it comes from within or an external source.