Confidence For the Rest of Us — 4 Much Needed Alternatives to ‘Fake It Til You Make It’
4 Much More Attainable Ways to Make it (Other than Faking It)
I hate to break it to whoever invented “fake it til you make it,” but for the most part, it sucks.
People do not like being lied to.
Yes, stories are great. Embellishments are fun.
But you know what’s super sexy?
Honesty. And vulnerability. And relatability.
All these things are massively undermined when someone straight-up lies about whether they’re up to the task.
And that’s just the present tense.
That’s not even taking into consideration what exactly that person thinks they’ll do when they’ve quote-unquote made it.
Suddenly stop faking it? Let the world see them for reals?
I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like that.
It’s a terrifying prospect to get so far through life, perhaps even all the way to that elusive massive success, to then have to reveal yourself as some kind of areshole that was masquerading as… well, something more palatable. Something competent (when you weren’t).
You’d have a pretty nasty case of imposter syndrome, is my guess.
The irony is that imposter syndrome is a known psychological condition where people doubt their own accomplishments and fear being exposed as a fraud.
The whole idea of ‘faking it’ implies not so much imposter syndrome, but actually being an imposter.
People who fake it until they make it have every reason to feel like a fraud.
And I’m just not down with that.
Revealing yourself to be an imposter is not fun. Living life as an imposter is not fun.
And surely in 2019, there’s no need for this way of doing things.
Aside from the fact there’s Google. There’s Alexa. And Siri. There’s all the information, tutorials, courses, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, listicles, resources, training, books — basically everything you could possibly need — at your fingertips no less — to not have to feel like you need to fake it.
But I’m getting hung up on the practice of fakery here. All my fake triggers must be blinking bright red and signalling danger, danger, Will Robinson.
I guess the more helpful question with regard to this approach would be…
Why do we feel the need to fake it?
Why Do We Fake It Until We Make It (Or Die Trying)
Is it because we don’t know what we’re doing? Or that we want to try something and we just have to plunge in at the deep end and hope for the best? Fail forward…? Or — rather, fake forward. The penalty is that we suffer imposter syndrome for just as long as it takes to grasp the ropes and get-ahead-slash-make-it.
Or do we fake it simply because we don’t have as much confidence as we think we need?
I mean — that topic could justify a lifetime of writing.
Whatever the reason — it’s pretty clear to me anyway, fake it ‘til you make it is not the way to go. Faux confidence is nowhere near as attractive as real confidence.
And for anyone that values integrity, authenticity, honesty…
Here are four other paths consider instead. But I warn you, they aren’t pretty.
They don’t come with filters.
4 Ways to Make It Without Faking It
1. Being Honest (Until You Make It — and then forever, obviously).
I’m going to start with the most obvious. Granted, it’s not sexy, it’s not glamorous in the slightest.
If anything, it’s tricky.
But how about you just own the process, buckle yourself in, and be honest about your ride.
Something was hard? Or you don’t know, or don’t understand?
Truth. That is commendable. That’s impressive.
And yes, it’s scary. I get that going out there and doing something new is scary.
Doing scary things are scary.
You know, like palms being sweaty, knees week and arms that are heavy? Vomit on your sweater already, mom’s spaghetti?
It’s ok to be nervous. It’s also ok to have a calm cool exterior. It’s ok to have pep talks — either self-administered or calling one in from a friend.
Nerves are authentic — whether they show or not.
Here’s the thing — being able to do it and not being able to do it — both are ok. Just be honest about where you’re at.
Because if the alternative is faking it?
Mate, none of us can trust you if you’re lying us me about something. So just be honest.
And there is something refreshing about being honest — so refreshing it might just open up your vulnerability, make space for acceptance — and give you a good ol’ fashioned confidence boost…
2. T-r-u-s-t that you can make it.
Do you think you need to fake it because you think you are missing something? Experience? Knowledge? Confidence?
I remember starting a brand new business and being petrified that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. That I’d be laughed at. That I’d be criticised. That I’d be rejected.
Imposter Syndrome symptoms: fear, anxiety, and lashings of doubt — if left untreated, it progresses to full-blown self-sabotage. Um... At what point do you call the doctor?
I had to sit down with myself, do some long, hard meditation and some journaling — and I came to realise that I was simply afraid that people wouldn’t trust me.
It’s huge. And FYI — lying, impostering and faking does nothing to make this trust situation any better.
But when you can learn to trust yourself — that’s a pretty robust approach to take.
Drop any notion of ‘faking it,’ and work on your trust. Look deeper than the doubts, beyond the fears and the feelings of inadequacy and negative self-talk. It’s a plague.
But underneath that is the knowledge that you can actually do this, and a firm belief in yourself.
That’s what you need to reconnect to.
When you trust yourself, you’ll find that others can too.
And the rest you’ll pick up with practice — trust me.
3. Make It Til You Make It
It’s time to fly off in a new direction, and this one is one my all-time favourites — credit to Chase Jarvis for the quote.
He says, don’t even bother with faking it.
The world has got more than its fair share of fakes and frauds.
Instead — until you make it — just make it.
Create. Play. Practice. Make. Do the thing.
Put your energy into just making — which is not necessarily making it — whatever you think ‘it’ is.
The joy and the light relief that comes from creating and the process of creativity may just serve you well on your journey. It may take you off in a different direction. It might even make you better at your main thingy (like doing ab crunches at a bootcamp on a beach somehow made me better at headstands on my yoga mat — magic).
It might be totally irrelevant.
It doesn’t matter. No one cares. No one needs to — least of all you.
The point is, don’t waste your energy on trying to ‘make it’. But while you’re on your way, spend your energy making.
The making ‘it’ will sort itself out in its own time — and you might even find the creative process of simply making emboldens you and gives you oodles of transferable confidence.
If nothing else — this is a considerably more fun, positive, and self-affirming approach than the prospect of going through life freaking faking it.
4. Practice Til You Make It.
Yeaaaah I know it’s boring. No one wants to hear this.
But I will be over here on my daily practice soapbox preaching it until the end of time.
Practising, getting experience, getting better — that’s actually what it takes to get there. To ‘make it’.
Practice breeds competence, competence breeds confidence. That leads to mastery, and then, well, I guess you made it… right?
There is no shortcut.
(Well there is. There’s faking it til you make it, but we’ve already dismissed that as a strategy for fools, mmkay?)
Faking it til you make it doesn’t require any self-discipline — it just requires zeal in the here and now, and a bold disregard for the truth.
Faking it is a quick fix — use it too much and over time it builds up toxically.
Dishonesty is not good for us.
For deep, in-it-for-the-long-haul confidence, you need to dig in — you need to practice.
But practice takes self-discipline. That’s the catch.
It’s worth it though.
As Nietzche wryly observes in Thus Spoke Zarathustra:
“He who cannot obey himself will be commanded.”
There’s not much else to say, is there?
Brush yourself down. Gear up your discipline — and go out there and practice ‘til you make it. I command you — until you command yourself of course.
But if practising r-e-a-l-l-y doesn’t work for you — I hope I’ve shown that you’ve got options.
There’s always making random shit, trusting yourself more — and at the very least, just owning exactly where you are on this journey.
There are so many ways to do life. So many ways to make it.
For your own sake though — please don’t fake it.