Why Fake It Till You Make It Won’t Cut It Anymore
Got a complicated relationship with the phrase Fake it till you make it? Me too.
We’ve all been encouraged to fake it till we make it, but how helpful is this advice? Is “fitting in” what we actually want to do?
Women in business are constantly advised to embrace our unique gifts. So, why would we want to fake anything to fit in?
Probably because we’ve been advised to lean into the masculine definition of success, rather than creating the kind of success that energizes and inspires us.
We can’t wait for the current paradigm to accept us for who we are to Emerge. If we wait until we are ready, we’ll never get there. The process of emergence is becoming who we are as it is happening in real-time. It is within this process that change actually happens.
Wouldn’t it be better to show our true selves, embrace our vulnerability, and actually deal with the fear of potential failure instead of turning away from it?
What’s Wrong With Fitting In?
Is there anything really wrong with fitting in? No, not inherently.
We all want to fit in sometimes. Fitting in can mean we’ve found our crew, that we belong.
But forcefully trying to fit in when it just doesn’t… fit? That’s actually a pretty good indication that there’s something off.
Women are born leaders, so we don’t need to fake leadership in any way.
Instead of trying to change ourselves to fit into something that feels awkward or uncomfortable, we should be trying to bring our authentic selves to the table and work to change what it means to be a leader. That’s diversity.
My Fake It Till You Make It Story
I’ve flirted with the fake it till you make it philosophy. And believe me, fitting in can be a slippery slope that can lead to an uncomfortable, tense work environment.
While the fake it till you make it philosophy can work in some situations, I’ve found that it’s more effective to just be yourself.
Anytime you make a big career change (like say, landing a job as a marketing director for a publishing company after building a career in medical technology), you’re going to need to learn a lot of new information and skills.
Add to that a heavy travel schedule to support the monster growth you intend to accomplish, and you’re going to need to learn how to live an entirely different life. New industry, new culture, new cities, new subway, new friends, new life. All at the same time.
But here’s the kicker…
Feeling like an imposter wasn’t really anything new to me.
Truth be told, I’d spent my entire life trying to fit in and figure it out as I went.
And I’ve gotta say, trying to keep myself small was flipping exhausting.
And this wasn’t the only time I felt like an imposter, either — I’ve spent my entire life trying to understand what it takes to be a powerful and fully-expressed woman. After decades of “fitting in” and “figuring out,” I’ve realized that it’s more exhausting to stay small than it is to be vulnerable.
Those fake it till you make it days were dark.
They were full of fear and anxiety, wondering when the other shoe would drop and everyone would see me for who I really was: a scared woman playing the part of a confident, successful man.
Too quick to hide my feminine qualities and too afraid to be seen and heard in the truth of who I am.
Can faking it and fitting in lead to success and give you what you want? Abso-freaking-lutely.
But it takes so much more work to find success this way. And along the way, your true self is replaced by abilities and confidence.
What’s the point of being a vessel of knowledge and power if you can’t use those skills to self-express your true, authentic self?
The Negative Effects of Fake It Till You Make It
Faking it was problematic for me on a personal level. And if it was so bad for me, imagine how it was for those around me.
People can feel or intuit when you’re faking. Do they know why they’re feeling bad? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean they can’t feel the negative effects anyway.
Studies show that leaders effectively handling negative emotions can be good for the entire team.
Maybe your anger or frustration or anxieties can’t be felt outright. Maybe you don’t go all Devil Wears Prada on your team. But your team can still sense that tension.
There’s no way to manage non-verbal cues, such as involuntary facial expressions and body language, without dealing with the source of your negative feelings.
Plus, you’ll experience negative effects, such as rising blood pressure, indicating stress.
How to Use Authenticity to Be a More Effective Leader
So what’s the antidote to faking it? Daring to be authentic.
A more effective way to seem confident and knowledgeable and capable is to face our vulnerability and challenges head-on.
How do we do this? Through authentic connection.
Authentic connections can make us stronger and braver. It’s real and lasting. It can help us believe in ourselves and reprogram negative thought patterns.
The neuroscience of trust shows that high-trust companies report:
— 74% less stress
— 106% more energy
— 50% higher productivity
— 13% fewer sick days
— 29% more satisfaction with their lives
— 40% less burnout
On top of that, other research has indicated that positive relationships boost self-esteem, and vice versa.
These studies suggest that vulnerability can lead to more positive relationships, higher levels of trust, more energy, less stress, and more overall life satisfaction.
We get our power from full, unadulterated expression.
Being vulnerable (and the willingness to fail) can lead to more confidence and better leadership skills.
Instead of spending our time fitting in, why not take the time to explore these feelings and be brave enough to be vulnerable instead?
Show others only your game face and you’ll be surrounded by people questioning their own value and berating themselves for their own self-doubt and fears.
Bring people on the journey with you, and you’ll be surrounded by a league of supporters as brave and authentic as you.