You gotta mean it. Like Dolly on a dinosaur!
“You gotta say your affirmations in your mouth and your heart.” - Clark Todebush, age 5 Last week’s Never Put a Skunk on Your Bus 5-Minute Recharge explored how 5-year-old Clark Todebush’s advice to his mother echoed that of West Point’s Director of Performance Psychology, Dr. Nate Zinsser. Clark told his mother to never put skunks on her bus. Dr. Nate encourages you to selectively interpret your experiences and accentuate the positive with a daily “ESP” highlight reel of your effort, success, and progress. This week the focus is on a second theme in Clark’s advice to his mother. Affirmations. We’re not talking about Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley and his parody of an affirmation. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” - Stuart Smalley almost destroys the affirmation brand Why should you repeat affirmations? Because well designed affirmations work. In a 2014 study, University of Kent researcher Samuele Marcora had 24 elite cyclists pedal full out until they gave up. Half the group were then given positive phrases to repeat at the beginning and end of their training sessions. The other half trained as usual. Two weeks later the cyclists returned. There were no changes in performance or perception of effort in the group that didn’t train with affirmations, but those who trained with positive self-talk were able to cycle 18 percent longer than they had in their previous test before reaching total exhaustion. Plus their perception of how hard they were working was lower throughout the test. Does a significant improvement in performance and feeling better about it sound good to you? If so, here are Dr. Nate's five Ps for creating effective affirmations: 1. Make them positive (don’t use words like don’t, never or avoid) 2. Make them personal (use the pronoun “I”) 3. Use the present tense (“I am” not “I will”) 4. Use precise language (“I'm good enough” is not precise enough) 5. Use powerful language (“doggone it” doesn't cut it) “I am brave of this meeting! I am loved! I smell good!” - 5-year-old Clark Todebush gives us 3 perfect affirmations Dr. Nate suggests creating 3 affirmations that reinforce qualities or skills you already have or actions you already take that are critical to your success, and 3 affirmations for qualities, skills and actions you'd like to develop. You can activate the power of your affirmations by choosing 3 to write out 3 times before you go to bed, and/or try the doorway exercise: repeat 3 key affirmations every time you walk through a doorway. Be sure to follow Clark Todebush’s advice and design affirmations that speak to your head and your heart. “You gotta walk big. You gotta mean it. Like Dolly on a dinosaur. Because you got it.” - Clark Todebush Walk big with your affirmations and you could become Dolly on a dinosaur... Get Fully Charged on Say it in Your Mouth and Your Heart
Dr. Nate Zinsser’s website
“The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance,” by Dr. Nate Zinsser, Harper Collins, January 2022.
Interview with Dr. Nate on Chris Williamson’s Modern Wisdom podcast
Another interview with Dr. Nate from the Daily Stoic podcast with Ryan Holiday.
The soon-to-be Dr. Clark Todebush who coached his mother as she drove him to kindergarten is featured in “Need a Life Coach? This 5-Year-Old Can Help,” by Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, February 3, 2022.
Dolly Parton must have some awesome affirmations!
“Studying 9 to 5? Dollywood to Pay 100% of tuition, books for employees.” Marina Pitofsky, USA Today, February 9, 2022.
Entertaining BONUS article that’s well worth your time: “I Gave Myself Three Months to Change My Personality.” Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, February 10, 2022. *****