You’ve all heard the expression, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” In essence it’s a technique to avoid the trap of a self-fulfilling prophecy related to a lack of confidence. For example, you are getting ready to deliver a big speech at your company’s conference. You are nervous but that won’t help you. Instead, you “pretend” to be confident. You “act as if” you’ve got this one nailed! To accomplish this you might reach out to a mentor or coach to get some last minute advice. You might “power pose” before walking into the auditorium or meeting room. You might take 60 seconds to sit quietly and visualize your success. You might pump yourself up with a meaningful affirmation (“I got this!”) or listen to music that fires you up.
I was reminded of this simple technique when watching one of my favorite programs “Inside the Actor’s Studio” where host James Lipton interviews actors on how they get into character in order to connect with the audience. Recently Bryan Cranston, of Breaking Bad fame, was being interviewed. He talked about the moment when he discovered what acting was all about. He was doing a two-person scene in acting class that called for the actress to kiss him passionately. He found himself totally caught up in the moment and captivated by this actress who seemed head over heels for him. After class was over, he decided to ask her out as she was obviously very interested in him. Not! She looked at him like he was crazy and said “no way, get a life” and walked away. In that moment, he got it. Oh, that’s what acting is! Being so convincing and committed to the moment that it is utterly believable.
We are all called upon from time to time to “fake it”. You need to muster enthusiasm for a project. You need to partner with someone who may rub us the wrong way. You need to be empathetic to a customer’s needs. “Faking it” can be viewed negatively. For some it means being inauthentic or disingenuous – even deceitful – but most of the time, it just means doing what you need to do to bring positive energy and forward momentum to what you are working on and trying to accomplish.
Here are a few faking-it guidelines:
1. If you buy-in and believe, others will too.
2. If you haven’t bought in – ask good questions, review the merits and discover what you can support enthusiastically.
3. Don’t fake what you don’t believe. Be clear about what you are “faking” – confidence, energy, passion? – in other words, don’t be disingenuous.
The intention behind “faking it” is to reach the best possible outcome whether that is to bolster your own confidence in order to get your message across or inject positive energy to help a project move along. Fake it until you make it!