“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” William James
Do we smile because we are happy, or are we happy because we smile?
This question has vexed psychologists for centuries and the received wisdom is the former, namely that our minds determine what our bodies do.
Of course this is true but increasingly researchers from William James onwards are discovering that the reverse is also true. In other words our behaviour shapes our emotions.
In James’s oft-cited example, it is not that we see a bear, fear it, and run; we see a bear and run; consequently, we fear the bear. Our mind’s perception of the higher adrenaline level, heartbeat, etc. is the emotion.
The same is true, we believe of company cultures. I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve been having conversations with people within an organisation who say something along the lines of “we want to be more open but we don’t know how”.
To which our answer is always pretty simple. So give to get, and see how it feels. You’ll never realise the (often unexpected) benefits of becoming more open and collaborative unless you experience them first hand.
Act as if, and pay close attention to what happens and respond to it. It’s not necessarily easy, but it really is as simple as it sounds.