152. Faking It

I am not a fan of  “Fake it till you make it.” It implies a lot of things that are against my credo. It is inauthentic, it creates an unsafe environment and it hides gaps in knowledge. By this point in my blog post, I know I come off as a total party pooper so I am going to do what I do best: double down.

It is inauthentic to act like you know something you don’t. I am certain that being a faker mcfakerson will wear down your soul. The true way to learn how to do something is to fail, and fail a lot. And to ask lots of questions. I have a feeling that focusing on “Fake it till you make it” ends with  people getting the imposter syndrome. Think about it, con-men and employees use the same phrase. Do you really want to have the same philosophy as Bernie Madoff?

If you are prompted to “Fake it till you make it” in your workplace, your workplace may have an unsafe environment. A safe environment is one in which you can admit you know nothing and get the help you need to gain skills and knowledge. If your defense mechanism is to lie, you are working in the psychological equivalent of an 1800’s mine.

When people are prompted to fake it, and I’ve seen this, they hide their ignorance. They don’t ask questions in meetings, they google their answers and they struggle to keep acting like they know what’s up. I’ve been in these meetings, when the boss leaves everyone is like “To clarify... what the hell are we talking about?” and everyone sighs relief as they realize that they are not alone in feeling lost. As far as the boss knows, they all know what’s up.

So what do you think, do you share my reservations to that phrase or nah?

Extra Panel:


  1. I agree somewhat: I think there are roles and industries where faking it can be a fatal mistake, and others where it is necessary.
    In your job, as well as mine, faking it could result in huge problems, even loss of life. In my company asking questions is strongly encouraged to avoid surprises.
    But there are other jobs like public speaking, personal branding, coaching, arts and performance, etc. that do require people to show they are much more qualified than they are, until they eventually acquire the skills and therefore are no longer faking it. In those jobs, being unskilled while pretending to be, does not have fatal consequences.
    I do agree 100% with the statement that you are a party poop 💩.


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