You’ve heard the saying “Fake it till you make it”, right? It’s been around for years and it’s often been hailed as a useful strategy for success in the business world. But is that entirely accurate? When you look into the phrase a little more deeply, it encourages the “faker” to put up a front, to pretend they have the required qualifications or achievements under their belt without any proof to back them up. The ultimate idea is that you’ll figure it out as you go and, by the time the next client comes around, you’ll have figured enough out to qualify your work. Frankly, I think it’s an absolute load of BS and I’d even go so far as to say it’s perhaps the WORST advice I’ve ever heard when it comes to business. Here’s why and what you need to be doing instead.
The Impact On Your Mental Health
Here’s what I know. If you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, or an expert in something you aren’t, the “fake it till you make it” approach very likely will impact your mental health. Because constantly pretending to be something you neither are nor know how to be can put you in a constant state of stress and anxiety. That feeling of waiting to be found out will stay with you and you’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder. Maintaining this façade is mentally exhausting and I don’t know anyone who has managed to keep it up successfully for any length of time. Eventually, as you strive to persuade people you’re someone you’re not, you’ll be plagued with burnout and maybe even depression.
This isn’t just my thoughts or feelings on the matter. There’s significant research to support this. Studies show that the disconnect between the “real” self and the “ideal” self contributes to lower self-esteem and greater psychological distress. This approach also significantly distorts your perception of success. When we think of success, it’s a highly personal concept that varies dramatically from individual to individual. So, when you’re busy impersonating an idea of success that doesn’t align with your personal values and aspirations, you risk losing sight of what truly matters to you. It’s a vicious cycle of striving for an unfulfilling goal and being dissatisfied and disillusioned with the result.
What, then, can you do instead of faking it till you make it? Well, despite the flack it receives for just being a “buzzword”, authenticity is a far better approach, as well as aligning your personal lifestyle with your values. People are drawn to authenticity, despite the hard time it receives, because it represents honesty, vulnerability, and courage—qualities I think you’ll all agree are respected in every area of our lives. The principle of authenticity is especially important in the context of running a business. Being true to who you are, what you do, and what your values are, allow you to specify a niche in your industry, allowing you to support specific types of businesses, such as sustainable ones, to better align your values with the work you do.
Imagine, for a second, that you’re an advocate for sustainable business practices, choosing to live a lifestyle that’s in harmony with nature, allowing you to promote eco-friendly products and services. If this is what sets you alight, others who resonate with your cause will be attracted to your authentic persona and that means a more meaningful connection all around. The image you’ll be putting out there won’t be a front or something you’re faking but it’ll be a true reflection of your beliefs and aspirations.
Learning From Failure
A “fake it till you make it” approach has a significant impact on the value of your journey towards success, too. In business, each failure, mistake, or stumbling block in your journey is always an opportunity to learn and grow. As a business owner, it’s my mistakes that I really learn from and they’re what make me the success I am today. By faking your success from the very beginning, you’re only serving to miss out on these valuable lessons. Each misstep or failure gives us the opportunity to reflect, adapt, and make better-informed decisions moving forward. Really examining what went wrong in the first place allows us to gain valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, which helps us to refine our processes and strategies and do things better next time!
A Questionable Strategy
Ultimately, what might seem like a positive, confident, and enticing approach to running your business by following the “fake it till you make it” philosophy may end up resulting in harm to your mental health and a wonky perception of your own success. At best, it’s a questionable strategy with far fewer benefits than negative outcomes, which is why I’ll always advocate for authenticity over faking it to any business owner.
Whether it’s supporting a specific industry, living according to certain values, or simply being true to who you are, authenticity is far more sustainable and easily a more fulfilling path to success which gives it all the plus points in my book! And while authenticity might not guarantee instant success, it does ensure a journey that’s personally meaningful and rewarding. It’s a journey where you definitely don’t have to fake it to truly make it. I’d love to chat some more about how you can be totally authentic in your business. Why not drop me a message in my DMs and let’s see what you can be doing more of in your business.