Fake It ‘Til You Make It

A few days ago, I attended the annual alumni event for the management consulting firm where I used to work.  It is a great event and a wonderful chance to catch up with former colleagues.  As has become tradition, a group of the women got together for dinner after the event.

I am reminded every year how fortunate I am to have worked with these strong, successful women.  They served as important early role models.  They changed my perception of what was possible – who I could be, and what I could accomplish.  I cherish these friendships.

Every year, there are a few speeches at these events.  This year, a former colleague reflected on the important lessons that she gleaned from her work as a management consultant.  One of them was the concept of “faking it”.  This struck a chord with me because it is something that I have long believed.

Fake it ‘til you make it.  As management consultants fresh out of school, we were often called upon to make presentations to senior management.  Let me say that many of our clients were often initially skeptical as to the value we could add to their organizations (I can’t say as I blame them… what did I know about the insurance industry??).  For this reason, it was especially critical that we appeared knowledgeable, authoritative and confident during our presentations.

In the early years, I felt anything but confident.  Truth be told, I was downright terrified!  But I learned very quickly that most people can’t differentiate between true confidence and “fake” confidence.  So I faked it!  I figured out a way to calm my nerves and deliver a presentation that inspired (I hope!) confidence in my and my team’s abilities.  And over time, there was no longer any need to fake it because the confidence had become genuine.

I am certainly not suggesting that people misrepresent themselves or mislead others about their expertise.  It’s one thing to stretch how you present yourself and how you interact with others.  And it’s something else entirely to make people believe you are something you’re not by lying to them.

The fake it ‘til you make it concept has served me well over and over again.  As I moved into new roles or took on new projects, I have accepted that there is a period of “faking it” before the confidence appears.

At this early stage in my writing journey, there is really no one to impress.  Writing is a pretty solitary activity.  However, I find that I am having to trick myself into believing that I can do this.  I am crossing my fingers that genuine confidence will follow!

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