Why “Fake It Till You Make It” is bad advice.
“Fake It Till You Make It” has been around for a minute. It’s all over the Ted Talks, it’s been adopted by women in an effort to empower other women and battle Imposter Syndrome, and it’s used as a way to feel good about padding your resume. For a while I semi-subscribed to the whole “Fake It Till You Make It” mantra. But I never felt good about it. I’m a genuine person. I don’t like to lie and I don’t feel comfortable overselling myself. Especially in business. I’m confident in my abilities, but I don’t feel good telling someone I can do something that I’m not sure I can.
“Fake It Till You Make It” is disingenuous and it can hurt you, especially in business. I find that my clients prefer authenticity. If I don’t know how to give a client what they want, I tell them that. If I think I can figure it out, I tell them that too. I find that they appreciate my honesty. I would hate to sell a client on something I can't do and not be able to deliver. It makes me and my business look bad and damages the trust in our relationship. Instead of TELLING your clients how amazing you are, you should SHOW them how amazing you are. I find that clients are more appreciative if I under-promise and over-deliver.
IN THE WORKPLACE
If everyone is “Faking It Till They Make It” in the workplace, you end up with a bunch of people trying to keep up with the non-existent skills of everyone else. That’s so stressful and unnecessary! This kind of culture fosters workplace strife and burnout. If you’re working with people who prefer deception over authenticity, you’re not working with the right people.
AS A WOMAN
As a woman, hearing “Fake It Till You Make It” tells me that I’m not good enough and I have to lie about myself to cover it up. How is this empowering women!? We are all learning and growing and we need to normalize being honest about that. If you want to empower women, let them know that they are in the place they are meant to be on their journey and help them to continue to grow and learn new skills rather than making them feel like they have to pretend to be something they are not.
AS A MENTOR
As a mentor, if you are "Faking It Till You Make It," you’re providing a disservice to your mentee and robbing them of the opportunity to get advice from someone who can genuinely help them and truly empower them. Too many people who take on mentorship do it to prop themselves up and end up offering a bunch of empty fluff instead of sound advice and guidance because they don’t actually have a solid foundation to draw from.
IT DOESN'T WORK
Not only is “Fake It Till You Make It” deceitful, unless you’re a narcissist, it doesn’t work. False confidence does not breed true confidence, you'll lose trust and credibility when you’re found out (which you will be), it prevents you from asking for help and learning new things in an efficient way, and living a lie is bad for your mental health.
I no longer “Fake It Till I Make It.” I’m better than that. I’m confident in what I can do and I’m proud to present myself exactly as I am. You should be too.