Fake It Until You Make It?

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Faking until you make it is a well accepted and common practice in the workplace. This raises the question; if everyone knows about it, can’t we just be transparent about our skills and abilities? How much time and efficiency are we losing by pretending we know something we don’t, and then figuring it out on our own? What’s that doing to our mental health?

Faking it can lead to feelings of impostor syndrome, which Merriam-Webster defines as: a psychological condition that is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success. These feelings can lead to anxiety and depression and can happen even if you aren’t faking it, but it’s much more likely among those who are faking it because they have real reasons to fear they’ll be exposed. It’s normal to have some feelings of self doubt when taking on a new challenge, but faking it adds to the stress of trying to overcome the challenge.

I suggest a different course. Be open and honest about your skills without downplaying them or selling yourself short. This leaves the door open to ask questions and get the help you need to learn that new skill faster, and people will respect you for your honesty and genuine confidence. If you feel a skill is critical to getting hired or advancing, do the work to learn it before applying. Commit yourself to continuous learning throughout your career so you’re ready to take on new challenges and opportunities as they present themselves. It’s not healthy to live with the stress of being fake and you’ll feel better without that weight around your neck, so start being honest today!


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