June 14, 2023

Is "fake it till you make it" bad advice?

Do you hate the expression "fake it till you make it?"

To me, the issue isn't so much with the idea of "faking it" as it is with "making it."

Honestly, I fake it all the time. When I attend an event where I'm nervous and don't know anyone, and would rather be at home with my laptop and cats, you can bet I'm faking confidence when I first walk in.

I kind of play a character, but the character is ME: the most confident, outgoing version of me. And the beauty of it is, as I warm up and meet people, the character goes away, and the confident, outgoing version of me remains.

It's one thing to pretend you know things you don't know, pretend to be someone you're not, to overrepresent your skills or credentials, to make up things that can be proven false. That's not what I'm advocating.

There's a structured way to fake it, a tool used in psychotherapy called "act as if." It's a tool of narrow focus specifically on behavioral change; that is, you're not meant to "act as if" you're a medical doctor if you're not.

But it's used as a way to rehearse behaviors that you want to change, but that seem daunting.

For me, "acting as if" at a networking event looks like walking up to people and putting out my hand to introduce myself, even though it feels awkward and scary.

(See photo of me "acting as if" at a table with strangers 😱👇🏼 the night before a conference. Linda Harvell and Kindra Fry were sitting together and saw me eating alone. Before long, they brought three more "orphans" into the fold, and we became besties!)

"Acting as if" in public speaking might mean making eye contact or smiling, even if it feels awkward and scary.

So faking it, to me, is a natural part of learning, rehearsing and absorbing new and uncomfortable behaviors so we can eventually do them more naturally.

I do get stuck on the concept of "make it." Because this end result sounds vague. What does it even mean? Will I ever NOT be nervous in a room full of strangers? Unlikely. Making it implies an end point, where there might never be one.

I prefer "fake it till you find it." I wish I could say I made this up, but I poked around and it already exists. Darn it.😆

It’s already within you to be more confident, to feel more comfortable in your own skin, to take risks of putting yourself out there more and being seen and heard.

But finding it is not the end result. When you find it, then you can cultivate it. You can keep growing and improving and building on what's already there.

What do you think? Keep "fake it till you make it?" Change it to "fake it till you find it?" Something else?👇🏼

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