Small changes often make a big difference. In the next five entries, I will show that how we introduce ourselves really matters, and that it is something we can control.
Decades ago, when I was a senior in college, I took a job as a Fuller Brush salesman. Each night, at 5:00 PM, I would drive to my sales area and look at the houses. I dreaded the task ahead of me. I would sometimes sit for an entire hour and do nothing. Finally I would drag myself to the first door. I would knock and then ask if the person was interested in buying my brushes. The responses were usually negative.
I would eventually conclude that I was wasting my time. But I knew the problem was not in the customers or in the product. I knew the problem was me. So I would make a conscious decision to reorient myself. I had an important ritual. I would squeeze my hands, paste a smile on my face and jump up and down ten times, and run to the next door. When the door opened, I would enthusiastically introduce myself and tell the person how glad I was to see them.
In those conversations I always seemed to say just the right thing. I would usually sell at seven of the next ten houses. With each sale, I would become more confident. That year I successfully supported myself and my new wife while working just 12 hours a week. I attribute this to my unnatural ritual in self-change.
From research on self-regulation, we learn that goals matter (I wanted to support my family). When we care about our purpose, we are more willing to regulate our feelings, thoughts and behaviors (I chose to change my feelings and how I presented myself). As we combine self-regulation with self-efficacy, or the belief we can accomplish our goal, we become more adaptive. We are more likely to perform well (I knew just what to say).
Reference:  Maddux, James E. (2002). Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In Snyder, C. R. (Ed); Lopez, Shane J. (Ed). Handbook of positive psychology. (pp. 277-287). London: Oxford University Press. xviii, 829pp.
- Does the account bring any experiences or ideas to your mind?
- When it comes to your emotional state, have you ever made the choice to self-regulate? Has your performance ever altered? What happened?
- What insights do you have about the process of introducing yourself?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?