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How To 'Fake It Til You Make It' And Be Successful

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Quora
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When Does 'Fake It Til You Make It' Work And Not Work? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.Answer by Nicolas Cole, Writer, Fitness Model, Entrepreneur, on Quora:

"Fake it till you make it" is a deceiving phrase.  I believe it should be restated as, "Fake it till you make it and between make sure you learn it."

I've been fortunate to have had some incredible mentors in my life, and with them the ability to sit in on and be surrounded by people that far exceed my current skill level.  I seek these situations out because I know that the most effective way to grow is to play with and against people that are more skilled than you.  But I can say that by constantly surrounding myself with people so far above me in terms of skill and expertise, I've noticed a pattern in the way these successful individuals interact and pursue their goals.

They all have no idea what the answer is, and they all are 100% confident that they will figure it out along the way.

This is a very different thought than "fake it till you make it."  What the above implies is that it's not that they are selling themselves as something they are not.  What they are selling, or leading others to believe, is that they will absolutely, without question, find the answer--even if they don't have it right now.  They will absolutely, without question, become the right person for the job--even if they aren't right now.  They will absolutely, without question, "make it"--even if right now they haven't yet.

A very clear example of this happened in a business meeting I attended about a year ago.  The guy I was with was being asked questions by the client that he didn't know, but he still wanted to secure the business.  Instead of rolling over and admitting, "I have no idea, you're probably better off going with someone else," he sat up in his chair and said, "We've run into these kinds of things before and I'm sure we can find a solution."  He presented himself as already having the ABILITY to find the answer, even if he didn't have the answer himself.

And what did we do as soon as we got back to the office?

We figured out how to solve the problem. 

All we did with the client was make them believe that we were more than capable of doing so.  In a sense, we "faked it." (Because we didn't actually know the answer at the time.)

The same goes for the entertainment industry--even more so, actually.  This is why in a club a girl might look like a famous model, but in the grocery store she's really just a girl barely out of college struggling to pay her own rent.  When she's out, she's "faking it."  But is that bad?  Not necessarily.  She's portraying the image of who she wants to become.  And you know what?  I guarantee people go up to her all the time when she's out and even open the door to potential opportunities for her, because they believe in the future image she is representing--the REASSURANCE that even if she isn't 100% that person right now, she is determined to become that person.

Where all of this goes wrong, where "fake it till you make it" falls apart is in the interim between faking it and making it.  Just like in the client example, had we sold the client on something we genuinely didn't know how to do, and then never took the time to learn how to do it and provide that value, we've effectively faked it but we never actually made it.  We did not go through the learning process.  The same goes for the girl in the club who looks like an aspiring model but during the day is just an average girl in a little studio apartment.  If she's not doing the other things to improve herself, refining her craft (acting, modeling, singing, whatever it is) so that when the opportunity DOES arise, she can grab hold of it, then she's effectively faked it but she'll never make it. 

It's the learning process between the two that bridges who you are now and who you want to be.

Anybody can fake it.  And in many ways, faking it is how you get the door to open.  The question is whether you're taking the time to learn and grow as well so that when the door does open, you're ready.  You've "made it."

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