Should You Fake It Till You Make It?


We've all heard this one, right?

It can be interpreted in many different ways. Essentially, what's implied is that you may not always be feeling confident about what you’re doing, but if you continue to engage and "fake it," eventually you will arrive successfully at whatever your end goal is.

The philosophical part of me likes to contemplate this aphorism from time to time. I break it down to see if it holds up, and while it may not always hold true, there is some wisdom in this approach.

Think about it. Whenever you try something new, by definition it’s something you don't know if you'll be good at, right? You've never done it, so you have no evidence you can pull it off. You may have enough self-confidence to take the risk and try, but no hindsight to rely on to provide the knowledge that you can, indeed, pull this off, whatever it is.

Does that mean you shouldn't try?


If you tend to hold back until you have evidence that you can do something, how will you ever move forward? You won't know what you're capable of until you try. And you won't necessarily have the luxury of trying just once. You may have to try over and over again until you get to where you're going.

To me, that's what faking it till you make it is all about. It's about taking the action you feel compelled to take and letting the gap between that action and your self-confidence fill in over time. There will be a gap, no doubt. But instead of seeing it as a reason to not move forward, accept it as the reality that the gap is necessary. Faith and trust in yourself are about doing things that you have no proof will work. Moving forward despite the lack of proof signals faith in yourself.

I'm not implying that it's easy. Moving forward on sheer faith takes a lot of courage. Expect to feel a little freaked out and do it anyway. One of the tricks I like to employ is to mentally fast-forward past the event or thing that's giving me anxiety. For instance, I always have some anxiety before speaking. It's totally natural and I expect it, but I love to envision the evening after I speak, when I can relax, spend time with my family, and have a drink after dinner. I also imagine how I will feel—satisfied at having delivered content that will positively impact the group I spoke to in some way.

Is there something you feel compelled to do but hold back because you can't prove you have what it takes? Take a risk, have some faith in yourself, and let the gap fill in.