A few times a week, I run around an outdoor track. At the start of each lap, I spur myself on with a short phrase, or mantra.

A mantra is simply something you tell yourself, silently, to evoke a desired quality—in this case, energy. A mantra can be just one word.

Actors use a similar technique called inner monologue.

If you were an actor playing a love scene, it might be helpful, as you look at your romantic partner, to think, “You have lovely eyes.” Less helpful to wonder, “Did you eat a pastrami sandwich for breakfast?”

You and I are influenced by our thoughts. The last time I was in Germany on business, the hotel had several different fruit juices on tap each morning—orange, grapefruit, and something mysterious called “vitality juice.”

I had no idea what vitality juice was, but since my work required vitality I drank a lot of it. I kept thinking, “I feel good. I’m drinking vitality juice, and I feel very good.”

The 3-word mantra I’ve been using recently, Show Your Numbers! is something I heard on an exercise video. The instructor was wildly enthusiastic about squats. Her attitude seemed to be, “Sure the world may be falling apart, but hey, that shouldn’t stop you from doing a proper squat.”

A proper squat requires proper posture. Hmm, how’s your posture?

Show Your Numbers! is shorthand for chin up, shoulders back, stand tall—as if you were wearing a team jersey and wanted others to easily read the numbers on front.

But this mantra also works on an emotional level. You feel better from the physical act of standing tall, as well as from the emotional prompt to show your stuff.

And it’s applicable to many non-squat situations. It certainly beats my usual thoughts when running, such as:

  • When will this be over?
  • I just realized, I dislike running.
  • Almost as much as I dislike squats.

Tip: The next time you walk into a meeting (virtual or otherwise), try a mantra. When I coach execs, I sometimes recommend the mantra, Strong and Confident.

But experiment with different words; you want something that’s short and simple, and that gives you a boost.

Sort of like vitality juice.


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You’ve Got 8 Seconds: Communication Secrets for a Distracted World—named one of the best biz books of the year by an obscure, but obviously brilliant, Canadian newspaper.

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PAUL HELLMAN consults & speaks internationally on how to make your point—fast, focused, powerful.

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