A funny thing happened a couple of nights ago.

I was out with a friend, when we started talking to two very nice young ladies. They had just finished talking to this young man whom we could tell had been just a little too obvious in his advances.

What exactly do I mean by that? Touching ...A funny thing happened a couple of nights ago.

I was out with a friend, when we started talking to two very nice young ladies. They had just finished talking to this young man whom we could tell had been just a little too obvious in his advances.

What exactly do I mean by that? Touching them too much too early, grabbing one of the girls by the biceps and saying, "Oh my god, do you go to the gym?", and generally trying to be a bit too smooth. You could spot it from a mile away.

Since that guy had clearly done all the wrong things, it seemed natural to ask the ladies what the *right* things were (hey, I'm always doing research for you guys -- no gratitude necessary). They gave us a list -- attentiveness, being fully present, being interesting, and (drum roll) -- *being himself*.

Now these criteria are all well and good. But what the heck does that *mean*? How does that translate into something you can actually do?

This is where The Tao of Dating comes in. See, in neurolinguistic programming (NLP), there are these things called 'nominalizations.' Nominalizations are nouns that stand in for verbs.

'Attention' is a nominalization. 'Friendship' is a nominalization. 'Love' is a nominalization. If you can't put it in a wheelbarrow, it's a nominalization.

The challenge here is to figure out which verbs each nominalization represents for a given individual. For example, at last count, there were 6.2 billion definitions for the nominalization 'love'.

Now the phrase 'being yourself' is a bit like those nominalizations. It could mean anything really.

In The Tao of Dating, I have this extended rant against the idea of 'being yourself', basically saying that it is tantamount to being lazy.

In fact, why reinvent the wheel. Allow me to crib from Chapter 2 of the Tao of Dating:

"This book is not about gimmicks to get the girl, or an easy Band-Aid solution to your dating woes. It is not about ‘being yourself’ either, especially if that’s what’s gotten you in your current predicament. Being yourself is just a euphemism for being lazy.

You would not ‘be yourself’ for a job interview and neglect to prepare. Rather, you would do everything in your power to be the most attractive candidate for the job, paying close attention to your wardrobe, grooming, demeanor and speech.

Similarly, The Tao of Dating is about growing into the new, more powerful and more effective you that optimally attracts what truly fulfills you as a man.

It is about taking stock of where you are, determining where you want to be, and doing what it takes to forge the person who will successfully undertake that journey. So ultimately, yes, you will be yourself, but *the best possible version* of yourself. Let’s begin."

Ah yes. The best possible version of yourself. Let's talk about that for a sec.

Let's say there's half-marathon coming up in three months' time. Your friend convinces you to sign up for it. In fact, he wants to race you, and wagers $500 that he can beat you.

Now a half-marathon is 21km of running, all done on the same day. No breaks. No Barcalounger. No remote. No limo. Just you, your running shoes and the pavement. How do you proceed?

Choice A: You decide that the best man should win the race, and if you were to get on a training regimen, modify your diet, and plan for this thing, it would detract from the purity of the exercise. For three months, you watch TV, play poker with your buddies, eat burgers, and hope for the best.

Choice B: You decide that you are going to kick your buddy's butt into low-earth orbit so he'll never think of issuing such a foolish challenge again. You get fitted for a new pair of running shoes, download a training program from the internet that you start following religiously, change your schedule so you're always in bed by 11, cut back on alcohol and junk food, and turn into a mean, lean, 7-minute mile running machine.

Okay. So it's abundantly obvious that unless you suddenly lost all of your cerebral cortex in a catastrophic incident with a tequila bottle, you picked Choice B. If you actually intended to win.

And yet, I'm always surprised to find so many intelligent, educated, well-to-do men taking Choice A when it comes to their dating lives.

This is an example of what psychologists call 'domain-specific knowledge'. Whereas in one spot a person is able to apply his knowledge and make a find decision, in another spot this knowledge is blithely ignored. Bizarre human tendency, and it happens all the time.

Think Oprah and weight, Bill Clinton and dalliances. People who are excellent managers in one domain who do poorly in another.

So the first realization is that you already have the skill -- it's just that you didn't know you had it. This is the meaning of my sign-off, 'The power is within you.'

Think about it. Anything anybody teaches you merely activates some latent skill you already had. If the aptitude weren't already there, it wouldn't happen.

And it's not like someone's installing some cyborg equipment into you so you're suddenly charming and smooth. It all comes from inside, with a little training.

So how have some of you been picking Choice A unbeknownst to yourselves? Well, I can tell you how I used to do it (and still do on occasion).

I'd see a guy talking to an attractive woman, and immediately the Excuse-O-Mat would kick into gear. "Well, he must be more interesting than me." Or, "Look at him -- he's way taller than me. And probably her type, and I'm not." "That dude's rich."

Really? Even if those things were true, there is only so much correlation between those 'facts' and whether the woman in question would be interested in him more than she would in you.

Never take yourself out of the race like that, especially when you just don't have information. Recall Belief #4, from 'Beliefs about the self': "I provide the best possible experience a woman could have."

I say if you're going to have a random, unsubstantiated belief, it may as well be one that empowers you. Not one that puts you down. So go ahead and feel free that you are the cream of the crop, the cat's meow, or as those crazy Brits say, the dog's bollocks.

This is the first step in your preparation for success in any realm, including dating -- to believe with every fiber in your being that you ARE a success.

The second step is to put some foundations under that. As some wise man once said, "After you have built castles in the air your work need not be lost. Just put the foundation under them."

You see, life on this earth, pared down to its barest essence, is a competition for resources. These resources are food, shelter and reproductive means. And we already established that you would not enter a competition unprepared. So, like the training program for you half-marathon, this is going to be some rewarding work.

Briefly, here are some ideas to get you started:

1) Your career.
This is the primary source of your power as a man, and therefore your primary determinant of dating success. You can get into virtually ANY new career with 1-4 years of preparation (except for medicine, which will take you a decade and you'd be crazy to get into it in the first place).

If you can take that time to build a new career that is more fulfilling and empowering than what you are doing now, DO IT. One to four years is a sneeze compared to the six decades that come after that. And you don't want to be on your deathbed at 80 like Ivan Ilyich from Tolstoy's short story 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' wondering, "Why did I waste my life like that?" Eek.

2) Your health and physique.
Some people are born like Adonis, and some are not. Luckily, women aren't as picky as men are when it comes to prettiness. But they are still sussing you out for certain physical characteristics, whether they're conscious of it or not. Shoulder-to-waist ratio, symmetry, muscularity, general healthfulness, posture and gait register unconsciously in a woman's mind, rendering you more attractive or less attractive to them.

Moreover, looking the best you can makes YOU feel good, and when you feel good, you look good. When you like yourself, you're better equipped to like others too. So eat well and avoid junk food. Have a regular exercise program. Do yoga. Be the human racecar. Schedule it into your life and make it a priority.

3) Your appearance and style.
This is the question you want to be able to answer: Do I look like a man a woman can trust? She can either trust you to be a solid professional or a bad-boy biker, but still -- can she trust you?

I could write a whole article on this topic alone, so I'll just give you the short version: be clean, sharp and well-groomed. This is the opposite of slovenly and overly casual, which some guys mistake for 'being themselves'. Nope, that's just being slovenly and overly casual, which may not necessarily be the same as trustworthy.

Have at least one sharp outfit to wear to social events. I saw a friend of mine last night who used to pride himself on owning only two T-shirts in his entire wardrobe. On this occasion, however, he was wearing this cool button-down shirt with a funky pattern on it. The difference was huge, and you just couldn't help but see this guy in a different light with the new shirt on. Good thing.

Pay particular attention to your shoes, because the women certainly are. There's even a new book out on reading men based on their footwear called 'Never Trust A Man In Alligator Loafers'. Invest in at least one really nice pair of shoes, and feel free to wear them all the time -- you're not a girl, so it's okay.

4) The vitality in your life.
Is your life interesting? Is it alive? Life attracts life, so if you want fun, interesting, vivacious women in your life, it helps to be a fun, interesting, vivacious kinda guy.

Notice how age doesn't really compute so much, so don't let that be an excuse -- there are really dull college kids out there as well as grandpas who water ski barefoot.

If you feel like you're getting in a rut, go take up a new hobby, or take a language class, or schedule an adventure trip. The human brain has the remarkable ability to create its own entertainment, so by all means do that.

Researchers also show that taking up novel activities makes the brain sprout new neurons just like you did when you were a kid, so there's your real shot at everlasting youthfulness, if not necessarily youth. Youthfulness, verve, vivacity are all naturally attractive qualities. Be the source of it.

The power is within you,
Dr Alex

PS: Can you think of two friends who would also find this article useful? Then send it to them! They'll thank you for it.

PPS: I'm interested in your questions and comments regarding dating, persuasion and networking, so please do send them to me. I can be reached at dralex@thetaoofdating.com

Author's Bio: 

Dr Ali Binazir is the author of 'The Tao of Dating: The Thinking Man's Guide to Success with Women' and 'The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible', which is the highest-rated dating book on Amazon.com (4.9/5.0) as of December 2011. He's a regular contributor to HuffingtonPost.com and has an MD from UC San Diego Medical School, an MPhil from Cambridge University and an AB from Harvard College. He has a clinical hypnotherapy practice in Los Angeles and is dedicated to helping you become the best, happiest version of you. Visit him at http://TaoOfDating.com