As If

When I first started coaching I heard this well-known quote:

“Dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have”

I’ve always had this (mostly) focused discontent professionally, where I am searching for an opportunity to do more, or have greater influence, or grow. This doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy where I am, but I’m usually seeking ways to grow professionally and personally, and that means that I’m often trying to prepare for something else, even if I don’t know when or what that might be.

This was particularly true when I first started working. I was coaching at a small independent school, in the middle of nowhere, and commuting 30 minutes each way to do so. It was a nice job, and I met some great people there, but I didn’t want to end my career there. It was the job I had, but not the job that I wanted (forever).

So while most everyone around me coached in gym shoes and a polo shirt, particularly other assistant coaches, I wore a suit. It didn’t fit well, probably because I bought it as a buy 1 get 3 free deal at Jos. A. Bank. and picked the wrong suit size, and because I’m built like a toothpick. But I wore a suit nonetheless. I was dressing for the job that I wanted.

During this time, however, my mindset shifted from what I was wearing to who I was being.

I started to realize that dressing for the job that I wanted didn’t have to mean my oversized and poorly tailored suits. “Dressing” for the job meant that I was going to work hard to act AS IF I had the traits that I one day hoped to have.

From Mark Batterson’s book, If: “William James, the first educator to offer a course in psychology, said, ‘If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.’ He also said, ‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.'”

An experiment was done in a San Francisco school district that further drives home the power of acting “As If”:

Three teachers were pulled into a meeting with administrators and told that they were the best teachers the school had, and that they were tasked with teaching ninety high-IQ students. They were allowed to move at the students’ pace, and wanted to see how much they could learn in a year.

At the end of the year, the students had achieved 20-30 percent more than the rest of the district.

The principal then called the teachers in and said, “I have a confession to make, you did not have ninety high-IQ students. They were “normal” students, randomly selected.

The teachers, at this point, felt really good about what they had accomplished with this group of students. Truly, they must be the best in the district! Or so they thought…briefly.

Next, the principal said, “Also, you were not the best teachers we have. Your names were the first three out of a hat.”

If they were average students, taught by average teachers, how did they outscore the district by 20-30 percent??

I encourage you to dress for the job you want, and to act AS IF.

**The story and idea from this post comes from Mark Batterson’s book, If.**
Much Love,
Bryan

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