Why looks are IMPORTANT

7 Things To Boost Performance Instantly

We’ve all heard the saying;

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’….

But when we’re short on time, that’s EXACTLY what we do.

We’re not to blame though, it’s part of our DNA.

We are literally programmed to make a rapid assessment of the situation based on what we see in front of us.

Assessing the situation for threat, food, water and a potential partner.

It is a part of our animal instinct (for those geeks amongst us, this resides in the amygdala).

It is the part of the brain that gets hijacked when we feel anxious, stressed or overwhelmed.  

For generations this has kept us safe, it’s a pattern as old as time.

Nobody ever thought;

‘hmmm, I know that lion looks big and scary, and those teeth DO look sharp… but I won’t be too quick to judge’.

Lion Vs Antelope

…or maybe they did, and then they became the entree after some wild antelope.

7 Steps To High Performance Download

The same is true today on the roads.

Rightly or wrongly, we instinctively give way to larger vehicles.

Large vehicles, or rather, those driving them, also tend to hesitate less at a meet situation.

It happens all the time.

You’re driving along, minding your own business and then…

We see something hurtling towards us making lots of noise and flashing its’ blue lights.


Threat response immediately triggered by the approaching emergency services vehicle. 

In an instant, with hesitation only to identify a safe refuge, we give way (or if you’ve been naughty, sit waiting in shame).

Police Lights
Police Lights 🙁

It doesn’t have to be a large vehicle particularly, but it’s presence must be processed as threatening.

Ever seen two cats fighting?

All the hair on their backs stood on end, each trying to make themselves look as large as possible to intimidate the other.

Swans? They do exactly the same thing, hissing and flaring their wings out to appear larger.

Young men on a night out strut down the road, chest out, arms out and head up.

Powerful People

Interestingly, we all do the same thing when we feel powerful.

This response isn’t just reserved for conflict situations.

Usain Bolt

Above: Usain Bolt winning the 100m

Look how big he’s making himself.

Interestingly, this isn’t an attempt to intimidate those around him.

He’s the best, and he’s proven it.

This is a display of how powerful he feel in the situation.


Above: Superman hands on hips

Other than kryptonite, superman doesn’t have a great deal to worry about.

And he knows it.

We recognise these powerful poses and see them all the time.

Interestingly, we are more exposed in these positions. Our soft bits, ribs, organs and midriff are all vulnerable.

But we don’t mind because we have an intrinsic confidence and self-belief.

Many studies have proven just how much our body language affects not just how others see us, but how we see ourselves!

There’s a reason we respect that lion.

There’s a reason big trucks, 4x4s and large alloys are ‘attractive’ to us.

We see it as a sign of strength, prowess and quality.

Looking Confident = FEELING Confident

Amy Cuddy a Harvard Professor explains;

“Body-mind approaches such as power posing rely on the body, which has a more primitive and direct link to the mind, to tell you you’re confident.”

Put simply, if we know we look good we actually start to feel good to. 

Maybe you wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but we all know how you felt when you put on that nice suit and gave yourself a cheeky wink in the mirror – you know you looked good, and you felt it!

Or maybe it was that nice dress and heels that made you feel on-top of the world.

Psychologists have proven that it doesn’t just make us feel great.

Others around us pick up on this too.

Real-Life Happens

You’ve probably seen it day to day.

That person that can walk into a group at a social event with a huge smile and a laugh and instantly everyone is at ease?

Maybe you are that person.

Equally, we’ve all witnessed that person who turns up and instantly everyone feel awkward.

Ever been approached by a salesperson, anywhere, ever?

Salesman, sheepily approaches, gum in mouth (why are they always chew gum?!);

“Can I help you at all?”

Without hesitation you reply;

‘No! Just looking thank-you.’ – we always say thank you even to an unwanted approach, it’s the charm of being British.

How You Can Use This To Improve Your Life Day to Day

We think there are two HUGE opportunities for driving instructors to make use of this interesting human trait.

  1. You can FEEL great everyday
  2. You can enable your pupils to FEEL confident when nervous for test or lesson

7 Steps To High Performance, Looking and Feeling Great

7 Steps To High Performance Download

Tip: If you’re serious about change, to put this into action, print the checklist and stick it next to the bathroom mirror – this is the first place you visit each morning.

Step 1 – Start Like You Mean It

The perfect start to your day only takes 90 seconds!!

Do these 4 Things as soon as you wake;

  • Drink water
  • Move
  • Get into the sunlight
  • Dress for success

Drink Water (<30 seconds)

When we wake we are in a state of mild dehydration. We all know that drinking water is good for us, but we all crave that warm hug of dopamine and reach for the coffee pot. Put it off for just an hour and get a glass of water down you – it will pay dividends later in the day with enhanced concentration, lower stress levels and a greater sense of well-being.

Move (<30 seconds)

10k Run not your thing in the morning? Nah, mine neither.

Try 10 air squats, just 5 pushups or a little jog on the spot – anything to raise your heart rate a little.

Get into the Sunlight (As long as you need)

The sun is the best natural supplement you can get. Expose can equip your body with vitamin D3 which leads to higher serotonin levels.

Aside from making you FEEL happier adequate levels of vitamin D3 actually lowers blood pressure.

Make that coffee you just put off and go and drink it outside, you need only step out onto your doorstep, into the garden and take a moment to sip in the warmth, take a breath a clear your head.

Dress for Success

Now that you’ve started right, that little flex of will-power is going to set you up for success.

Dress like you mean it, you’re a serious driving instructor professional.

Dressing like one will not only help you feel great but ensure others take you seriously too.

Wearing a polo and tracksuit bottoms? Really?

We all know we should judge a book by it’s cover, but there’s a reason lawyers, accountants and doctors wear a shirt and tie… and charge upwards of £50 per hour.

Step 2 – Take 2 Minutes

Strike the power pose. The ‘Power Poses’ that will instantly boost your confidence levels.

As researched by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, as little as two minutes power posing can make you feel more confident.

What’s more, Cuddy says, adopting the body language of a powerful person changes the way other people see and act toward you, which in turn reinforces your confident behavior.

“When our body language is confident and open,” she writes, “other people respond in kind, unconsciously reinforcing not only their perception of us but also our perception of ourselves.”

Action Step

Plant your feet widely and stretch your arms overhead in a V shape. (Just like Usain Bolt).

Authority and confidence allows others to feel safe around us and helps to build trust and rapport. This is a key component of teaching and imparting knowledge.

Step 3 – Smile

Ever been smiled as by a baby?

You instinctively smile back – and you can’t help it.

During your first encounter of the day, be sure to greet them with a smile.

When your pupil sees your smile they won’t be able to help but smile back. There animalistic brain will instantly put them in a better mood and lower their stress levels. By putting both you and them at ease, lowering the tension you are making way for learning and knowledge sharing.

Step 4 – Compliment

Start off on the right foot.

Greet with a compliment, a positive statement and a calm tone.

‘I’m so glad you booked today’s lesson, you’re making great progress.’

We don’t just assess threat and process our environment with what we can see, we do it with what we can hear too.

By providing this positive statement you well help to put the pupil at ease, laying the foundation for a positive lesson.

Step 5 – Summary

We all know that feeling when we simply get a ‘you look nice to today’.

It is the reason social media is so viral, people are being programmed to get the little likes’ which are essentially mini compliments.

Try incorporating this into your daily routine.

End a lesson with just a couple positive statements will not only make you feel good but help to encourage your pupil along the way.


‘It’s really great to see you’

‘You’re making excellent progress’

‘I’m really glad you booked this lesson, it’s going to help get you ready for test’

If you need to deliver some negative information try sandwiching it between two positive statements. For example;

‘I’m really glad you took today’s lesson, we’ve made great progress.

Unfortunately, if you continue to cancel it is going to delay when we can go for test.

I really look forward to our next lesson when we can continue to build on everything we’ve learned so far’.

Need Help Reducing Cancellations?

Step 6 – Music

Drive home to your favourite song.

This simple act of allowing yourself to enjoy your favourite tune will help align your body and mind.

Being in a positive state will lower stress levels, increase general well-being and help you make better decisions.

Step 7 – Clean-up

Your car is your office. A quick run through the carwash, a vacuum out, will set you up for the next day.

Walking to a clean car help elicit a sense of pride. Once you get in, dust free, air freshener smelling nice, clear windows – you know you’re the business.

You won’t be the only one to benefit.

When others see you driving round, learners and examiners get in, they will instantly take the situation more seriously, and consequently hold you in higher regard.


Before your pupil goes for test, get them to power pose – if you’ve tried it yourself you know it works.

7 Steps To High Performance Download

If you’re interested to understand the psychology and research behind what you’ve read today I highly recommend watching Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about ‘Faking it until you become it’.

Your body language may shape who you are | Amy Cuddy