In the journey of entrepreneurship, one phrase often pops up: “Fake it Till You Make it.” This advice, though controversial, encourages entrepreneurs to ‘fake’ confidence, competence, and success until they achieve it genuinely. While some view it as a powerful mindset to overcome self-doubt and reach their goals, others criticize it for promoting deception and inauthenticity. In this article, we will dive into the concept of “Fake it Till You Make it,” exploring both its supposedly positive aspects but also its problems from an ethical point of view. By the end, you will have a better understanding of how to navigate this advice and make it work for you.
Understanding the concept of “Fake it Till You Make it”
“Fake it Till You Make it” suggests that by pretending to have the qualities and skills associated with success, entrepreneurs can eventually acquire those traits through practice, experience, and personal growth. It prescribes adopting a confident and capable attitude even when one may not feel fully prepared or knowledgeable.
The positive side of “Fake it Till You Make it”
Gaining confidence and self-belief:
“Faking it” may help entrepreneurs develop a sense of self-assurance. By projecting confidence and competence, even in the face of uncertainty, we can overcome self-doubt and gradually build genuine confidence. This can lead to increased self-belief and a greater willingness to take on challenges and pursue ambitious goals.
Overcoming imposter syndrome:
Imposter syndrome is something that hits close to home for many of us. It’s that nagging feeling of not being good enough, even when there’s plenty of evidence to prove our success. It’s like our mind is playing tricks on us, making us question our abilities and accomplishments. It’s a struggle that many people face, and it can really mess with our confidence and self-esteem.
By adopting a confident mindset and behaving as if we have already achieved success, we act despite our fears. This psychological shift can boost our motivation, focus, and productivity, which again can lead to successful outcomes.
I’ve definitely used the ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ advice a few times in my journey to give me that little confidence boost and said yes to something that I wasn’t yet 100% confident about. And it did help me get over that initial fear to say yes, and encouraged me then to prepare and acquire the skills necessary to get the job done.
Examples of the positive side of “Fake it Till You Make it”
Public speaking: Suppose you are terrified of public speaking but recognize its importance for your entrepreneurship journey. By adopting the “Fake it Till You Make it” approach, you can project confidence, practice your delivery, and gradually overcome your fear. Over time, your increased experience and genuine improvement will replace the initial act of faking, leading to more authentic and successful presentations.
Networking events: Attending networking events can be intimidating, especially for introverts. By adopting a confident attitude, even if it feels scary at first, you can make meaningful connections and expand your professional network. With time, these connections can lead to valuable opportunities and genuine relationships.
The problem with “Fake it Till You Make it”
Unfortunately, besides the positive aspect, there’s a big problem with faking it.
“Fake it Till You Make it” is inauthentic
One major problem with the “Fake it Till You Make it” advice has to do with the issue of authenticity. At Humane Marketing we’re all about finding your true authentic self and then bringing More of You to your Marketing. Humane Marketing is about the real relationships between humans. So if we’re faking it, people will feel that inauthentic energy.
Short-term solutions versus long-term growth:
While faking confidence and competence may create short-term gains and get you that next speaking gig, only genuine knowledge, skills and energy creates sustainable success and authentic relationships. You can only get so far with fakeness.
Ethical concerns with “Fake it Till You Make it”:
Focusing on short-term gains, deceiving and not being transparent are definitely not part of Ethical Marketing.
Examples of the negative side of “Fake it Till You Make it”
Professional expertise: Suppose someone pretends to have extensive knowledge and expertise in a particular field, even though they lack the necessary qualifications or experience. By faking their competence, they may deceive clients, leading to lousy work, broken trust, and potential harm to others. This can damage their professional reputation and have legal and ethical ramifications.
Scenario of an inexperienced website designer who applied the ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ advice:
Imagine an aspiring website designer who is passionate about creating visually appealing and user-friendly websites. While they have a basic understanding of design principles, they lack practical experience in developing websites for real clients. Despite their limited experience, they decide to portray themselves as an experienced website designer and start offering their services to small businesses.
A local bakery owner comes across their portfolio, which consists of sample websites they created as practice projects. Impressed by the designs, the bakery owner hires the inexperienced designer to revamp their online presence. However, as the project progresses, the designer encounters challenges they haven’t faced before, such as optimizing the website for different devices or ensuring seamless navigation. Their lack of expertise becomes evident as they struggle to deliver the expected quality.
As a result, the bakery’s website ends up with slow loading times, broken links, and a confusing user interface. Customers find it difficult to place orders or navigate the bakery’s offerings, leading to a decline in online sales. The bakery owner, feeling frustrated and let down, realizes they made a mistake in hiring an inexperienced designer who exaggerated their capabilities. The designer’s attempt to fake their expertise has not only resulted in a dissatisfied client but also potential damage to their own professional reputation.
Personal relationships: Pretending to be someone you’re not in order to attract or maintain personal relationships can be harmful in the long run. By faking interests, values, or personality traits, individuals may find themselves in relationships that lack authenticity and genuine connection. Eventually, the facade may crumble, leading to disappointment, hurt feelings, and relationship breakdowns.
Scenario of a tinder date who applied the ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ advice:
Sarah, an outgoing and adventurous woman, matched with John, a man who seemed to share similar interests based on his dating profile. In an attempt to make a good impression, John decided to fake his love for outdoor activities and extreme sports, even though he preferred a more laid-back lifestyle.
On their first date, John portrayed himself as an adrenaline junkie, suggesting they go rock climbing. Sarah, excited by the prospect of sharing her passion for adventure, agreed without hesitation. However, as they reached the rock climbing center, John’s nervousness became apparent. He struggled to hide his fear and keep up with Sarah’s expertise.
Throughout the date, John continued to pretend, forcing himself to engage in activities he wasn’t comfortable with, all in the name of maintaining the image he had presented. Sarah, who initially felt a connection based on their shared interests, started to sense something was off. She longed for a genuine connection and authenticity, but it seemed like John was more interested in impressing her with his fake persona.
As time went on, the facade began to crumble. John couldn’t sustain the act, and Sarah felt a growing sense of disappointment and betrayal. The lack of authenticity and the realization that they were not truly compatible in terms of interests and values led to hurt feelings and a breakdown in their relationship.
Solution: Balancing ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ and Authenticity
Authenticity as a foundation:
While “Fake it Till You Make it” can be a useful temporary tool, it should be built upon a foundation of authenticity. Being true to oneself and embracing personal values and strengths provides a solid base for growth and success.
Using “Fake it Till You Make it” as a tool:
If it helps you, you can view ‘fake it till you make it’ as a temporary strategy to gain confidence and competence, just long enough to step into action. Use it as a tool to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, while actively working on acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge.Read this blog post for tips on how to find your authentic self.
Examples of Balancing ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ and Authenticity
Scenario with Emily the Life Coach:
Emily is passionate about helping her clients navigate their personal and professional lives to find fulfillment and success. She has been honing her coaching skills and actively working with clients, but she hasn’t completed her formal certification as a Life Coach yet.
While she may have used ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ as a temporary mindset, during a coaching session with a new client, Emily takes a moment to have an open and honest conversation and shares that while she is highly dedicated to her craft and has been actively coaching individuals, she wants to be transparent about her certification status. Emily explains that she is currently in the process of obtaining her official certification, but assures the client that her passion, knowledge, and experience are solid foundations for their coaching journey together.
Scenario with Paul, the podcaster:
Now let’s imagine a scenario where we have Paul, an enthusiastic podcaster, who has recently launched his show. Paul is passionate about sharing inspiring stories and engaging conversations with his audience. He used ‘Fake it Till You Make it’ as a temporary tool to get his act together and start his show. However, as he starts recording his first few episodes, he realizes that interviewing guests is an art that he is still learning.
During the introduction of his podcast, Paul takes a moment to address his listeners directly. He openly admits that he is new to the world of interviewing and that these initial episodes are part of his learning journey. Paul expresses his excitement to grow and improve as a host, and he shares his commitment to delivering valuable content and engaging conversations despite his novice status.
Throughout each episode, Paul humbly acknowledges any areas where he may stumble or struggle as he navigates the art of interviewing. He actively seeks feedback from his audience and encourages them to share their thoughts and suggestions. By embracing his vulnerability and openly admitting his learning curve, Paul creates an atmosphere of authenticity and invites his listeners to join him on this journey of improvement.
As the episodes progress, Paul’s passion shines through, and his dedication to providing valuable content is evident. He takes feedback from his listeners to heart and incorporates their suggestions into his future episodes. Over time, his interviewing skills gradually improve, and the conversations become more engaging and insightful.
“Fake it Till You Make it” is a concept that I have a love and hate relationship with. While it can be a powerful temporary mindset for overcoming self-doubt and helping you get started, it is essential to find your way back to authenticity. By using it as a temporary tool and showing up with honesty and transparency , you can navigate the path of self-improvement while continuing to be true to yourself and others.
Other Resources You Might Enjoy
Blog post: How to Find Your Authentic Self
Podcast episode: Ethical Marketing
Podcast: The Humane Marketing Podcast, conversations with guests, organized around the 7Ps of Humane Marketing
- The Humane Marketing Glossary: Humane Marketing Words we love
- Manifesto: The Humane Business Manifesto (no opt-in)
- Creed: The Humane Marketing Creed (no opt-in)
- The One-Page Marketing Plan (email opt-in)
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