“Fake it ‘til you make it.”
I’ve heard this saying before, but never really gave it much thought. I came across it again today on my Twitter feed, and I started kicking it around. Initially, my thoughts were that this was poor advice. I felt like this was the opposite of being a genuine person, and as a person who strives to be (and preaches being) authentic, I felt that asking others to be something they’re not is actually quite counterproductive. Here’s where I was wrong: it’s all in the application of the action.
Those of us that are sports fans or are in and around sports in some capacity or another have either heard of or seen first-hand that guy or gal that exemplifies the type of player we all want to coach or be near. These are the athletes that show up early, help set up practice and carry equipment, never complain, work every drill at game speed, blast through conditioning like a person on fire, encourage teammates, and display selflessness. These are the folks that are called “gym rats”, “hard-nosed” and possessive of a “tireless work ethic”. So, what if that’s not you? What if you want to be that type of person, but you don’t really know how to be that type of person? Wouldn’t emulation be a decent place to start? Wouldn’t modeling your work ethic after a person with a great work ethic be an exercise in positivity?
I came across a great article about this today. In his piece called “Fake It ‘Til You Make It: How expectations, beliefs and perspective can build confidence“, Alexander Spradlin brought up something that I think helps drive “faking it ‘til you make it” home. He discusses placebos, or drugs/procedures that have no actual healing powers. Placebos are often given to patients in studies as a control. What has often been noted in various studies is the effect of the placebo. As Spradlin mentions, in depression studies, those given a placebo often showed signs of improvement in mood because of the confidence or belief that they were taking something to make them better. Similar results have been seen in studies with cancer patients. By simply believing and taking on a new mindset, positive results were shown with no actual medical measures being taken. So, how does this relate to the subject matter at hand? In Spradlin’s case, he had a fear of public speaking, which he quelled by simply taking on the persona of someone who exuded confidence and a strong belief in their abilities. He has since flourished and now anticipates opportunities to speak in front of people. His placebo was someone else’s confidence, which he lacked but now possesses.
I still believe wholeheartedly in the power of being you in a very honest and accountable way. I believe that we should strive for authenticity and compassion. I think we should all work on ourselves and try to be better, and sometimes this means taking some extraordinary measures to change things about ourselves that simply don’t work. But, what if you lack the confidence to make those changes? What if you have fears that are holding you back? Doesn’t it make sense to look for inspiration in those that display the character traits we want to see in ourselves? Doesn’t it seem worthwhile to try to emulate the characteristics that we see and admire in others that will be beneficial to our development in the long term? I don’t propose a decrease in being genuine and an increase in trying to be something you’re not. But I do propose that we constantly work to be better, and sometimes that means faking it until we can eventually make it.
Have an awesome Tuesday,