When we hear the phrases,
Act as if…..
Or better yet,
Fake it until you make it….
We often silently cringe a little. Images come to mind of the pushy salesperson, projecting unmerited success that hasn’t yet been earned.
As human beings most of us have a pretty good B.S. detector. We can tell authentic people from those who are putting on a façade, and we generally prefer the former.
Authenticity is compelling. It is inspiring. It is attractive. Being “fake” isn’t. Plain and simple.
Unfortunately, because of the way that the phrases “act as if” and “fake it until you make it” have been contextualized and interpreted, and our inherent disinterest in “fake” people, there is a great lesson that we often miss out on that could be gleaned from these concepts.
The lesson is this:
What we believe about ourself completely impacts our performance.
Allow me to explain.
Say that you have been asked to give a public speech, and you aren’t a comfortable public speaker. If you go into the speech constantly focusing on your shortcomings as an orator you are likely to execute with nervousness, anxiety and without the power and eloquence that you might have otherwise had if your belief was different.
You may not be the best public speaker in the world, that isn’t the point. You do however have to believe that you are capable of great things. Even if it is only to yourself, you have to “act as if” you can deliver a great public speech in order to deliver one. You have to first believe that you are capable of greatness before greatness can manifest.
Here is where those phrases can have some positive meaning. The next time you undertake something, act (again to yourself) in a way that expresses (again to yourself) that you are capable of greatness in the area.
In a way you are “faking it” because you haven’t experienced greatness (yet) but what you are doing is conditioning your belief system. If you do this over and over again it will really affect how you act because we do (and we are) what we believe.
I’m not advocating that we all run out and start being fake, but I can say, with certainty, that the times in my life that I completely believed that I was capable of excellence are the times that excellence manifested in my actions, and the times that I doubted myself were the times that my performance suffered. If I “act as if” I grow in belief. This in turn strengthens my performance.
All greatness comes from belief, and all performance is impacted by belief. Maybe the circumstances of our lives have been such that we haven’t experienced greatness…yet. That doesn’t mean that we can’t still believe it, and although this belief is technically “fake” (since it isn’t backed by objective evidence substantiating our greatness), we can still adopt it. We can still “fake it” to ourselves, until our outer world reflects the inner greatness that we feel.