Act As If – The 3 Most Powerful Words

Why can’t all people be like our best friends -those that listen, seem to understand, and offer just the right amount of love and guidance?

Think about a recent phone call or meeting with someone you like to be around. Someone you trust, care about, and whom you know feels the same way about you. Think about your conversation with that person, as if someone were watching you with your friend. They would see smiles, laughter, an easy touch, or maybe a hug, and you know how easily you are able to forgive and ignore little things in your friend that might annoy you.

And now think about a phone call or meeting with someone you think doesn’t like you, trust, or care about you – a person who seems not to have your back. They seem to even work at finding ways to hurt you. Think of your superficial dismissive body language, the kind that someone else, looking on, might see. Your abrupt sentences and comments. Your defensive tone of let’s-just-get-this-done.

The 3 most powerful words are, “Act as if.” ~ John Maxwell

‘Act as if’ is not a game. The pause this sentence give you is called thinking. Thinking gives us a break before our statements and actions. Remember our actions as seen by others – us acting abrupt and defensive. Others don’t know how warranted we are in our actions. They simply make judgements about us because of our actions. Thinking simply leads to better choices in our actions, allowing us to see the better side of people, and creating better futures. If we see the bad in everyone else’s actions, our intentions will become more harsh. Be a better friend even to those who don’t reciprocate.

If you argue with a fool, it only proves there are two. ~Doris Smith

Act as if:

  • That person at work who doesn’t share things with you is going to become your best friend
  • That boss that lourdes their position over you is going to become your champion and advocate
  • The job you don’t like is going to become the best job you ever had
  • That neighbor with the loud dog is going to become your most trusted confidante
  • When you are disrespected or shamed, those who inflict the damage will feel more pain against their values long term than you will in the moment – See Gandhi and Martin Luther King for details
  • When you are betrayed, others will notice and herald your strength and leadership
  • The promotion you didn’t get will become your greatest joy in the next two years  
  • The job you hate now is teaching you things that will better your future
  • The boss that ignores you is shy, lacks confidence, or is dealing with issues at home
  • The guy that cuts you off in traffic has a personal crisis and you cannot even imagine their pain
  • The friend you lost over your bad behavior will be your greatest learning about yourself
  • The team that doesn’t like you, will embrace you as having unique gifts
  • The teammate you don’t like will become your boss
  • The person disliking you will become your company’s employee of the year

Final note:  People may ask – why should I “act” at all? They may say, “I prefer to be authentic.” And that’s fine. Authentic may mean lashing out at someone when they have made us mad, or when they deserve it. And I believe acting on those feelings is being selfish to our own feelings in an emotional moment. I believe to be really authentic involves connecting to a greater purpose, a higher goal, or a raised standard. One that we believe in and would defend to others and fight for because it is a greater good. That’s not selfish – it’s self-less. If our purpose is to see the good in others, treat others with respect, and genuinely care about others, I think we’ll see our authentic behavior is best achieved through thinking before we act in the heat of the moment.

Here’s to acting with intent.


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