“Good judgment comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgment” ~ Jim Horning
I’d be very surprised if throughout your career or business you had been offered the advice of ‘fake it till you make it’. This advice I never really understood. I still don’t. In fact now I think it’s the worst advice you could give someone.
The digital world we now live in provides a fantastic platform for people to fake it. Using all the social media platforms and tools people can be anything. Just ask those who are dating on line how often they’ve met up with who they thought to be ‘Mr or Mrs Right’ based on what they were reading on the site and the accompanying photo only to be hugely disappointed when that person turned out to be far from what they’d promised. They should’ve swiped left!
Professionally, people can exaggerate their knowledge, experience and accomplishments building themselves up and positioning themselves as the experts of experts, number one selling authors, best in the business via these online platforms. And they have an audience of approximately 3.4 billion people globally to position themselves with via the Internet. Impressive audience!
The “fake it” adage is a modern adaptation of a quote by Aristotle: “Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a certain way.” He was born in 384 BC. Times have changed!
So why is fake it till you make it is a bad call?
Now before people get all upset and angry let me put caveat on this. I am not referring to confidence in this blog. I am a big believer that we must push ourselves out of our comfort zones to grow and take it to the next level. Sometimes our confidence can go missing at these times and we can often feel like we have no idea what we are doing when in fact we do and often feel like an ‘imposter’ (imposter syndrome). This is completely different to faking it as often we have all the skill and knowledge but still not feel confident. The difference is we have the substance. What I am referring to is people blatantly embellishing to the point of untruth that don’t have the back up.
Firstly, we are more connected than we ever have been before. Our collective ‘degrees of separation’ have shrunk in the last 5 years. It was believed that only 6 people separated everyone on the planet. It is now estimated that only 3.5 people separate us. Personally I think that’s less. This is due to the enormous social media platforms that have allowed us to be connected well beyond those we have immediate ‘real’ relationships with. If you have built yourself up to be something that you’re not and you get caught out, it’s not going to take long for your connections and more to find out the truth.
Secondly, positioning yourself as someone you’re not is a great strategy to increase your stress levels and anxiety. So if you’d like to live in a way that damages your health and quality of living, worrying you will be caught out, go right ahead. There’s enough pressure out there in business without you putting this type of strain on you.
Thirdly, to protect your reputation (your Personal Brand) in a crowded marketplace you must deliver what you promise. People will make a decision to buy you based on what you’re telling them, if you can’t deliver the goods, you risk damaging your brand. It is reported that people will share bad experiences with business or people on social media three times more than they will share good experience. You don’t want people sharing a bad experience about you.
Finally, quite frankly people don’t have time to be sold a dummy. It is highly unlikely you’ll be given a second chance as there’s someone more than willing and waiting to pick up the slack who is genuine and highly skilled. People don’t have the time to try and work you out anymore. We’re all busy (even though you may think you’re busier than the next person) and we’re all time poor. Respect yourself and respect the person/people you are selling yourself too.
You may not be caught out immediately but you will be caught out. Fake it till you make it isn’t a relevant strategy for leadership, reputation building or success. Time to leave that well in the past.