The Problem with “Fake it ’til You Make It”

Over my years in the professional world, I have often heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it” given as advice for combating “imposter syndrome,” or feeling like you’re out over your skis, or out of your depth. This is terrible advice. This is advice given by someone who is uncomfortable with their own weaknesses, who would never admit them to others. The best, er, only way to move forward in a situation where you are uncomfortable or feel outclassed is to reach into your depth and be authentic.

How would you handle an issue if you were being your authentic self? Does it feel right to share your vulnerability with your team or ask for more time? Do it! We have been conditioned to believe that “fake it ’til you make it” is status quo, it is no wonder nobody trusts each other anymore. We are all faking it constantly. We don’t even know who we are anymore.

The real problem with “fake it ’til you make it,” is essentially, you never make it. You give the impression that you “made it,” but nothing has been made, other than an impression. And then you never get to stop “faking it” because you have advanced and have a new set of responsibilities you can’t handle authentically. When you are faking, the impression of making it is just an impression and this state will leave you feeling more empty and more inadequate.

Two ways to avoid this bad habit are staying authentic (knowing and admitting your flaws while claiming and honing your strenghs) and saying NO/asking for help. If you already have too much to do, it is OK to say no to new projects or get assistance from someone else. If you can employ both of these tactics, you will keep and grow your integrity, which is your biggest asset.

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