top of page

4 Reasons why "Faking it till you make it" is a bad strategy and what you should do instead

It's impossible to be fulfilled if we're not true to our unique selves.


Anytime our words, actions, or lives stray from who we are - that is, from the identity we've created for ourselves - we feel off, like something's wrong.

In fact, it's been said that the strongest force in human nature is the desire to remain consistent with one's identity. Therefore, when we fake it till we make it, we're essentially acting like someone or something we're not, all in hopes of a desired outcome.

This is bad for several reasons. But before I tell you those reasons, let me make one thing clear...

Here's what I DON'T mean by "faking it"

Attempting to act confident in an unfamiliar situation is not what I mean by "faking it." That is simply practicing certainty, which is an important skill for everybody, especially as a leader. Faking it has nothing to do with trying to bring certainty into a situation, but has everything to do with pretending to be something or someone you're not.

When you're learning a new skill, and then you go off and try to perform that skill in front of someone else, albeit poorly, you're not faking it by pretending you know the skill. You're simply doing what you learned. Faking it would be telling that person you're better than you are in hopes to manipulate some sort of outcome. There's a big difference there.

Furthermore, let's take the case of the relationship between our physiology and our feelings. When we're sad, we exhibit signs of sadness - hunched shoulders, shallow breathing, and quiet talking. When we're joyful, we open up, breathe more fully, and talk louder. It's not faking it if you change your physiology in hopes to feel better. It would be faking it if you went around telling people how happy you were, yet showed no change whatsoever in your body language.

Now that I've cleared that up, here are 4 reasons why I believe faking it till you make it is a bad strategy.

1. It makes us stray from our biggest strength - our unique personality.

You are 100% unique, in that you're the only human being on earth that has experienced every single moment in the exact sequence that you have. That's powerful! The second we pose as something else, we now have to put all our energy into supporting this false narrative, leaving little energy for what makes us unique. Uniqueness is all we have going for us, so embrace it fully. Besides, how do you expect to be happy by living a false narrative? Just be yourself without faking anything.

2. It uses a falsehood to manipulate reality, which is a double whammy.

One important question to ask yourself is, why are you faking it anyway?

When we fake it, not only are we being false, but we're also trying to manipulate reality. Remember in a previous post where I talk about how reality - that is, the very moment unfolding in front of you - took 13.8 billions years of the entire universe coming together exactly as it did, for you to experience it like you are, and you're trying to pretend to be something you're not so you can hopefully have some sort of influence over those forces?

Why not just be authentic to yourself? Why not be real, and put in 100% effort to moving forward with your real self, rather than your "fronted" self?

This doesn't mean you can't act confident. But true confidence is having the courage to say you're a beginner, or that you're figuring things out. It's having the guts to ask questions and say you're confused, even if other people might get impatient with you. In fact, faking it till you make it is a weakness, because it shows that you're scared to show your true self. That's the opposite of confidence.

In another post, I wrote about substance confidence versus style confidence - the latter being what most people think is confidence - people who act like they know what they're talking about by putting on a front, but really are scared to look bad so they focus extra hard on outward appearances. That's what faking it till you make it means, and that's why it's such a turnoff for other people.