The Mirror

I recently listened to an interview with Vanessa Edwards on the Jordan Harbinger Show and one thing that stood out to me is a study she mentions that looked at the science of popularity.

What they did in the study is that they went to high schools and they surveyed kids for their popularity rankings and tried to figure out why certain kids were popular.

The biggest factor?

The popular kids themselves actually liked the most of their other classmates.

It’s really kind of a scientific version of Dale Carnegie’s mantra: “be interested in other people to get them interested in you”.

And this makes sense if you think about it. If someone likes you, it’s easy to like them too. It’s safe. When someone doesn’t like you or you’re not quite sure where you stand, it’s safer for your ego to not like them.

But if you’re confident that someone likes you, it’s easy for you to like them too.

Once you understand this pattern in one context, you start seeing it everywhere.

As long as you’re constantly judging other people, you will always assume everyone else is doing the same. And this will stop you from ever even trying anything special or big. So to eliminate the fear of being judged and be able to accomplish big things, you have to stop judging other people.

When you’re lying regularly to people, you will assume others do the same and never trust anyone. As a result, no one (rightfully) will trust you and you will surround yourself with other liars since this help to protect your belief that everyone is lying too.

When you’re paranoid and stingy about everything, people will assume there’s a good reason for that behavior and won’t trust you.

The same is true when you frequently have an expectation that the situation is going to go poorly, that people will do you wrong, and that you’re not going to get what you want. Our brains have incredibly powerful filter mechanisms and will make sure you only pick up the signals that confirm your beliefs and suspicions.

The prices you’re confident charging others are really just a mirror reflection of the prices you’re comfortable paying yourself.

If you never lift others up and give them glowing reviews, you will always be scared to ask your customers for help.

When you make fast decisions and have a strong bias for action, people around you will start doing the same.

When you’re regularly introducing people to each other and inviting them to events, you will get lots of introductions and invitations yourself.

If you enter a room with negative energy, people will reflect just that energy back on you. You can’t expect great experiences and positive attitudes from people if you don’t bring that yourself.

Shaan Puri recently told a great story of how he went with Moiz Ali to the DMV to have his driver’s license renewed.

Before they went in, he said to Shaan: “I’m gonna have a five-star experience because I’m gonna be a five-star DMV participant. Just watch what happened.”

So he like walked in with a little pep in his step, he was smiling and he makes a joke to somebody and he realized, and somebody’s like, “oh, I’ll just help you out over here”.

And everybody else is grumbling in line. Like, why is this guy getting to go up front? She’s like, “don’t mind them”. And then she flirts with him and he’s supposed to take the test and she’s like: “You know what, it’s fine. You’ve been driving for a long time.” And she just gives him the thing and he walks out.

Before you enter a room or store, you can make a conscious decision to have a good time, to have this experience in its fullest, even if it’s something mundane like getting your driver’s license renewed. And you’ll be surprised how different everyone around you will start acting.

But there’s no quantum-level universal magic going on. The only secret is that it’s a lot safer for people to mirror your behavior than to do something radically different.

You feel silly to reply within seconds if the other person always takes two days to reply.

You feel silly for not looking to get paid back immediately if the other person is always doing just that.

If you’re beaming with positive energy, whoever you’re talking to will feel awkward if they’re not matching your energy, at least to some extent. Your energy lifts them up.

And it of course works exactly the same in the opposite direction too. For example, when you’re rude, you’re a lot more likely to get a rude response back.

But, say, when you start treating any sort of staff with kindness and as real human beings, you’ll be surprised how quickly good things magically start happening.

If you’re always tipping generously and are happy to spend money instead of trying to get a discount or stuff for free, you’ll have a much easier time earning money yourself.

Again, zero magic at play here.

What really happens is that when you’re acting from a point of abundance, you’ll automatically assume others do the same and hence feel a lot more confident asking to be compensated fairly for the value you provide.

So there are really three interlinked mechanisms:

  • The way you act and think is how you automatically assume others act and think.
  • You will subconsciously seek out and hence attract people behaving similarly since this will reinforce and protect your belief that others behave the same way. Your brain will make sure to filter out all signals that might shatter your beliefs.
  • And last but not least the way you act is contagious to people around you.

What I love about these observations is that they’re really easy to test and you can use them right away to improve your life.

I made a conscious effort to stop judging people and suddenly it felt easy to make bigger moves that I had been putting off for months.

For example, I was super afraid of what people would think if I would yet again change the format and name of my Business Brainstorms newsletter. I was similarly worried of what people would think when I’d launch Newsletter Story, which is not only yet another newsletter but also so obviously inspired by Starter Story.

But both decisions look like really, really good ones right now. It was really just my fear of being judged that held me back.

And the only way I was able to overcome it, is by stopping judging other people.

I still have a lot of areas I need to work on.

I have a very hard time liking and trusting other people, for example, so it’s hardly surprising that I’m not the most likable person.

Similarly, it seems impossible for me to charge more than $100 for anything right now since I never spent more than that for a digital product or service myself.

But now I know exactly what I need to do to tackle these kinds of challenges.

I need to take an honest look in the mirror.

Then I need to start working on whatever I see there.

Written on September 26, 2022

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