No More Fake It ‘Til You Make It

[3-Minute Read] My approach of ‘fake it until you make it’ almost destroyed my self-belief. I learned to feel safe about who I am and that gave me the freedom to adapt.

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Out of My Depth In A Pool Of Experts

My approach of ‘fake it until you make it’ almost destroyed my self-belief. I learned to feel safe about who I am, and that gave me the freedom to adapt.

Listen To Audio Version – Out of My Depth in a Pool of Experts

Sweaty palm panic attack

I didn’t have to look down to know there were tiny beads of sweat on my palms.

Why now? I thought.

I’ve done the work, and I’ve earned the right to be here. Why now?

With my eyes locked onto the lectern a few metres away, I lifted my left foot onto the first step.

Make like a duck, still above water. No one will know.

My calf muscle trembled as my right foot landed on the second step.

There’s no rush; take your time. Breathe slower. Breathe in for three. You’re just part of the show, not the main act. Get it done.

Until a few years ago, I never questioned why I use ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than ‘me’ and ‘my’ when giving myself a stiff talking.

I finally looked up when I reached the lectern, and 900 sets of eyes looked back at me from the darkened room.

There were rotund men with shiny scalps everywhere and women in sharp, dark suits. Cutlery clattered as they paused from their breakfast.

Please, please feel free to keep eating and chatting.

I looked at them. They looked at me.

I tried to speak, but no words emerged.

SOURCE: The Cutting Edge

Elbow deep in a pool of experts

Jay Acunzo is binge-worthy at any time, but my feast started around 10 am on the second day of my recent 3000-km road trip. 

I got out of bed early that morning to meet Sandy Suckling at the start of her 1100km run from Broken Hill to Melbourne. After running a few kilometres with her, I returned downtown and secured a table at the Silly Goat café. It was pumping with Saturday morning Park Runners, cyclists and dog walkers. 

I scrolled the episodes of Acunzo’s Unthinkable podcast while waiting for my coffee. The topics were right inside my curiosity wheelhouse. I guess you could say, unlike Cardone, Acunzo’s stories resonated with me.

New Rockstars Versus Conventional Wisdom

Smell Like You Mean It

One Person, Ten Million Times

Going Streaking

Experts vs. Explorers

That last one stopped my scrolling finger dead in its tracks.

As I read the word Experts, the image flashed into my mind of that freaked-out moment at the lectern, nine years before.

The words that I intended to speak that day were part of a 5-minute welcome address.

My gut twisted into a lump from the moment I accepted the offer to deliver the speech. I was a freshly minted director at the Australian Institute of Management. The youngest appointed in its 90-year history.

The Chairman usually did the opening address, but they wanted to nurture talent, and apparently, that was me.

Using Acunzo’s words, I’m an Explorer by trade. I have worked with entrepreneurs who throw out the rule book, roll up their sleeves, and make innovation happen throughout my career.

On the other hand, the Australian Institute of Management was the rule book.

AIM complied with the traditions of the corporate culture. Leading the organisation were senior executives who had polished their expertise on the arduous climb to the top. I hadn’t followed that route, which showed in my notably different CV and mannerisms.

Delivering the welcome address on different day. I preferred this lectern because it hid my shaking knees.

‘Fake it til you make it’ didn’t save me

I tried to resolve the skill gap by climbing into the persona of a corporate executive as if it was a shiny suit.

During the early stages of my career, women were carving new frontiers in business. We had to make sizeable assumptions about the behaviours that would earn us respect and influence outcomes. One of the mantras at the time, which still floats around today, was ‘fake it til you make it’.

The ‘fake it’ approach slashes a gap in your self-belief. At the core, you are telling yourself that who you are now isn’t good enough. Once a habit forms around that approach, your subconscious believes that you will never be good enough. That is, you will never meet the constantly moving standard of what good looks like.

That’s why my pretend-to-be-one-of-them strategy ripped at the seams the moment I stepped up on the stage. Deep inside, I believed I would never be good enough, and the pressure of those 900 sets of eyes pushed that belief to the surface.

But the solution isn’t simply ‘just be me’. Stakeholders trust me to do a job where expectations, responsibilities and values don’t naturally align with who I am.

As I stepped off the stage that day, I committed to finding a better way.

After years of searching, I found my answer. I learned to feel safe about who I am, and that gave me the freedom to adapt.

As I listened to Experts vs. Explorers, it was clear that while we started from very different places, Acunzo’s quest had passed him through the same clearing in the jungle


Activities to help your conquer fear

Use these activities in The Route To Unstoppable to understand how subconscious fears like ‘never good enough’ impact your habits and behaviours.

6 – Why Self-Doubt Keeps Biting

Twenty years into my career, self-doubt was still working hard to destroy my highest achievements. That day at the lectern I drew the battle line and learned how to wipe out self-doubt. > Do Activity

8 – Feel The Adrenaline

Every person who has been through this program arrives at a day where their motivation dives. In those moments it’s likely that you’re confronting an unconscious fear. > Do Activity

9 – Scary Stories

When you attach scary stories to risks they are immediately transformed into debilitating fears. That spells GAME OVER for your ideas and dreams. Here’s what to do about it. > Do Activity

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

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