Have you ever been in a situation, whether at work, or in your personal life and you softly whispered to your self “Fake it till you make it, and everything will be fine”?
Let me tell you why you shouldn’t and why it can easily backfire.
“Fake it till you make it” (or “Fake it until you make it”) is an English saying that suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real-life and achieve the results they seek.
In the early days of sales training, the “fake it till you make it” was promoted as the first step towards success. It is explained as the instant feeling of confidence albeit the opposite being true, but there is a fine line between pretending and just being outright deceitful.
Does this sound familiar? You arrive at a client and have the butterfly feeling. Then, you have the overwhelming feeling of ‘am I good enough, can I impress this client, shall I wing it, why am I even doing this’? It is in these moments that you would probably hear all these voices of “Fake it till you make it”, “just pretend you are the best”, “just tell yourself you are what they need”, “just imagine they are all naked”. The truth be told — these are JUST PHRASES, nothing more.
To really step up, and make a true impact is to invest in yourself. Start knowing who you are, embrace your uniqueness and then and only then, confidence and authority will be felt.
In a workplace environment, to be “fake” is a dangerous game that can be detrimental to your career.
The competition is fierce
We live in an extremely competitive world and the temptation to fake successes, capability, and confidence is rife. This, however, does not promote that you have to embrace an imposter syndrome to be seen.
A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who have had the approach of pretending to try to prove their worth to others were more likely to end up showcasing their shortcomings rather than living up to their pretence exhibitions. MBA students who wore Rolex watches to increase their self-worth and status ended up feeling like bigger failures.
Ladders, a career site, recently did a study on employee workplace happiness. Here were some key findings:
- Employees who fake happiness admit being unproductive for over 15 percent of an 8-hour workday.
- Faking happiness at work is common, with 81% of unhappy employees doing so.
- 4 in 5 managers said they could tell when employees fake being happy, and 52% of them wish the employee would talk to them about why they’re unhappy.
- Women were also more likely to fake happiness at work. 86% of female employees said they faked a smile at work, compared to 77% of the unhappy men.
As a truth and creditability expert (human lie detector) and master coach who has partnered with several high-performance individuals, I have witnessed that even though we tell ourselves to pretend, our subconscious mind will contradict our actions with non-verbal reactions and reveal the truth.
If we only measure the result based on our subconscious mind, we will understand that the term ‘fake it till you make it’, is a temporary fix with the risk of a snowball to a feeling of incompetency, self-doubt, and a career risk.
In an era where job opportunities are limited and the need to over-deliver is part of the job description, it is understandable that we would do anything to step up and get the job or keep your current role.
The caveat – don’t fake it.
Start with the why
Start asking yourself what exactly is it you want to fake? Why do you need to fake it and lastly is it worth the risk?
John Grinder and Richard Bandler (founders of NLP – a pseudoscientific approach to communication) created techniques through the NLP methodologies to overcome negative thoughts, self-sabotage mindsets, and any other trauma-related misconceptions and perceptions to impress others.
Faking confidence, capability, or authority in the workplace is bound to be exposed when you least expect it or worse when you cannot afford it.
Yes, we must embrace ambition, stretch our capability, and be open to learning as much as possible to be the very best of who we can be, but within the frame of reality, integrity and transparency.
The definition of fake is clear, “a thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham”. Do you see yourself as a fraudulent individual? Are you putting yourself out there to be seen as a sham? I think not.
Self-acceptance is the key to embrace who you truly are. Whether you find yourself being an introvert, ambivert or extrovert, people and companies must see you for who you truly are.
So, how do we overcome the feeling to overcompensate for perceived inadequacies, self-doubt, and lack of confidence?
All of the above are just symptoms of past programming that we are desperately trying to hide and the inherent need to be accepted. The true issue is that we do not know who we truly are, don’t have a solid understanding of our core values, and have no idea what we really want out of life.
Step away fakeness; hello confidence
Once we have taken time out to explore and venture on the journey of self-discovery we will recognize that fakeness holds no place in our world. Our need to fake it disappears and more so we will embrace our uniqueness and step up to the plate within our means. We will understand our ambition, be able to communicate it in such a way, that our colleagues and superiors understand our role and vision without putting ourselves in situations of negative exposure or worse, the firing line.
Between self-exploration, core values and clear vision we eliminate ‘fake it till we make it’ and replace it with “grow it as we sow it…until we reap success”.
The moment you believe in yourself and not reliant on someone else to validate who you should be, pure confidence will step in.
To confidently step up in your role and your career, you need to let go of this idealism to be someone you are not, and you will inspire another colleague along the way. Let’s imagine, for a moment, what a more real workplace will be where individuals feel safe to be themselves and showcase who they truly are, giving their best, without insecurities, imposter syndrome or fear of taking the lead.
When we change our approach to vulnerability, authenticity and confidence, fakeness will disappear and the risk of false exposure will be eliminated.
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