“Fake it till you make it” is advice we hear given often by successful business gurus like Gary Vee and researchers like Amy Cuddy. But can imitating or acting as if, as the law of attraction suggests, really bring us the confidence and confidence we need in order to achieve and make it? Let’s dive into the limitations of the idea behind “fake it till you make it” and what you should do instead.
As a stress physiologist and trainer of leaders and CEOs across the globe, I’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it” ad nauseum, but there are some serious downsides to the concept. If you’re familiar with my work, you’ve probably heard me saying that the brain believes the story you tell it. So absolutely, it’s worth telling your brain a positive story! But if all you ever do is lie to yourself, you might end up faking yourself right into a position of inauthenticity.
This is Danger #1 of faking it until you make it: don’t ignore your feelings! If you’re feeling uneasy or ill or inauthentic all the time in your job or your relationship, that’s a warning sign. Your body is trying to give you a message – faking it in these conditions means you may be leaning into a false persona and compromising your values, morals, and ethics to fit in or achieve some level of making it that may not be right for you. So pay attention to your emotions; they’re there to help you.
Danger #2 of “fake it till you make it” is that you can end up in a position where you’re in way over your head. If you don’t know something, it might feel at the time easier to pretend that all is fine and you’re confident about the direction that you’re headed. But in the long run, this can backfire tremendously, causing you important long-term relationships and the actual opportunity to learn. Instead, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be the non-expert rather than having to be right all the time. It’s a far more powerful position to be willing to show up and get it right, even if it doesn’t look like you know what you’re doing at first. Questions are always more powerful than knowing everything up front. Even experts get it wrong a lot! So here’s a challenge for you to prove just that – how many f’s do you see in the sentence below?
Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the foresight of many years.
If we are all such experts at basic things like counting and letters of the English alphabet, this should be an easy task, right? I’ll tell you at the end the correct answer, but no cheating – don’t look ahead!
Finally, Danger #3 of the “fake it till you make it” advice is it is especially often given to those who have Imposter Syndrome – people who feel like they are already faking it, or that they’re a fraud in their job or life for relationships. What if we didn’t fake anything? What if, rather than hiding who we are, we remember that we were hired and we were chosen as a partner and we are valuable just as we are? It’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers. In fact, that’s valuable. Anyone who doesn’t feel doubt, who doesn’t feel Imposter Syndrome, well, they are the true imposters. To build a sustainable relationship with yourself and others, you don’t have to fake anything, and in fact, when you do, you become dishonest with yourself. And the more dishonest we are with ourselves, the less we trust ourselves, and the less we trust ourselves, we end up faking our entire lives. That’s no way to live.
Until we’re willing to be real with ourselves and stop rejecting ourselves for exactly who we are, how can we ever expect anyone else to not reject us? You don’t have to hide who you are. You’re already enough.
Pssst. There’s seven f’s. Turns out we’re kind of all non-experts in this.
Until next time, live more, fear less.