Why faking it, until you make it, is worth the effort

women in business

This phrase has been around as long as it has been debated.

Some people argue that it can be misleading and unauthentic – that’s not the case if applied with humility and ambition in equal measure whilst also being honest with a full determination to always deliver on your promise. You will find that if you are a bit bolder, a bit brassier and braver you may go further faster. (It also entirely applies to how and what you apply your efforts to.) When did you last ask for a raise? When did you last challenge yourself to learn something new, when did you last volunteer to be involved in a challenging situation which takes you to new places and teaches new things. I want to lead an extraordinary life and I literally plan to do so. I set myself small and big challenges of all sorts each day, week and year and I try as hard as I can to conquer bad habits and to look for multiple ways of putting into and getting the most out of life.

What is it you want from life?

I was 23 years old when I started my first company, initially as a sole trader, at that stage I suspect it was more the complete lack of knowledge, not knowing what I did not know, and simply having the confidence and desire to be the best I could be. Undoubtedly the ability to talk to anyone, to ask endless questions, to apply basic common sense and to be able to admit that I knew very little but was keen to learn more, from experts that I respected, these things counted. When I needed to learn anything new, I also always worked hard and diligently applied a kind of 3 query learning approach like a 3 quote systems when I buy some things. Ask three people an opinion and then choose your own way. Take responsibility for the decisions you make and admit fast when stuff goes wrong. Don’t look back, learn and move on.

In understanding what I mean by, ‘Fake it till you make it’ for personal growth is to understand the actual meaning of the phrase as oppose to how it’s been misinterpreted. It does not mean you flat out lie and go for a role/job that you are strongly under qualified for. It really means conjuring up all your confidence, take a deep breath, popping your bubble of comfort and push yourself to learn or do something new. Putting yourself in uncomfortably stretching situations, aiming higher and always enthusing and being positive will get you to places you may not previously have imagined possible. Have you really planned to have the best possible role given the time and stage you are at?

There is strong association between telling yourself, (yes, positively talking to yourself), or hearing something enough that you start to believe, that’s exactly the trick this phrase encourages. Of course, we all have different start point levels and I am the first to admit that I was lucky in my upbringing. A talented older brother, a competitive family life, living in Hong Kong, we were often put outside our comfort zones. Well before the invention of the mobile phone travelling half the way round the world for boarding school, children with pocket money of £5.00 learning to budget for the term ahead.

Here are some top tip ways you can fake it till you make it:

If you’re not an extrovert try to fake it

Studies also show that if you push yourself to be more talkative just your power posing your brain starts to believe you are. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can make you happier and have a big boost on your ability to socialise in the long run. If it helps remember the times you nailed a presentation or a conversation you took charge in, tell yourself you can do it and go for it. I still get nervous as hell when talking to big audiences, I sweat, I feel sick and yet I do it as the resulting outcomes, possibilities and introductions that I have generated have always been overwhelmingly positive.

Use the power of your body positioning – especially for networking

Everyone uses the same tricks when they are shy or don’t know what to say, darting for the coffee table in a networking room, classic avoidance. The closing off, looking away, fiddling with your phone all are dead giveaways. I think this tip to network more easily should be taught in school. If you enter a room of people talking and you know no one, approach the people in groups of threes’, never the pairs of people. In a three one person is always left out of eye contact with whatever conversation is happening, hence they are easily distracted and usually looking for a new conversation. Approach the person not as engaged in the three and there you have solved their and your problem.

Dress the part

A little retail therapy never hurt. Looking the part can help you feel the part and feel more comfortable in the mood of your surroundings. This also helps if you want to learn a skill. The Stroop test shows that if you want to learn something – dressing like someone that knows the skill helps you develop it yourself. More importantly I think if you are in need of confidence having your hair done does wonders for looking good and therefore feeling good and positive. I did this throughout the numerous meetings I had when I was selling the first company I had, always making some effort to look smart, calm, together whilst perhaps turmoil and terror bubbled below the surface.

Pose like you mean it – pose as in carry yourself well

This is a must. Shoulders back and open, chin up and perhaps I can still say chest out? (Look like you mean business.) Never aggressive, but assertive is fine. Not only will you give off a professional and confident vibe to others, it can also boost your own confidence. It’s known that faking a dominant behaviour actually makes your brain and mood follow. Politicians try this and sometimes look a little odd but actually it is a point in case of how individuals can position themselves to give a sense of grounding and control.

It is a competitive world. Not a world that is always fair. Free learnings like these, applied well and executed will help anyone achieve more.

The aim for fake it till you make it is to mentally push yourself till you no longer need to pretend (you’ve made it). I am not sure the need to be brave, bold and brassy goes away, I do though think the grey-haired experience I have now accumulated allows me a little more gravitas. What I am also certain of is the other important rule is never judge a book by its cover. Treat everyone equally and other people will ring joy to each day whether it is the taxi driver, the delivery person or a CEO, manners maketh man and together we make the world go around.

Lara MorganAbout the author

Lara Morgan, mother, entrepreneur, investor in wickedly cool life improving brands like Scentered.com, Gate8-luggage, KitBrix, Dryrobe and Global Amenities

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