Should I ‘fake it till I make it?’ No doubt many individuals and businesses have got ahead and been given the opportunity to prove they can, indeed, deliver on their promises by doing exactly this. For others, however, following this advice can be extremely risky and create enormous reputational damage.
High-profile careers have been ruined by the discovery of non-existent qualifications presented in CVs or resumes. Undeclared bankruptcies, convictions, and youthful indiscretions have stopped many promotions when they’ve been discovered.
Dictionary.com defines ‘fake’ as: ‘to conceal, trick or deceive’. A faker is defined as a ‘cheat, fraud or imposter’, something few of us would want to be known as, and someone even fewer of us wants to deal with, or be associated with.
And yet the widely accepted concept of ‘faking it till you make it’ is not generally perceived as being a dishonorable thing to do. Rather, the implication is that it can enhance self-confidence and credibility, and open doors that may otherwise stay firmly closed. Well-meaning advisors may say “Don’t be held back by personal fears and doubts. Fake it till you make it, and once you’re up and running you’ll be fine.”
So should you ‘fake it till you make it’? In my opinion – No. Especially if faking it means you’ll be out of your depth, and unable to meet the expectations others may have of you.
Presenting yourself in the best light possible – without lying or deceiving – is, of course, entirely appropriate. It can make you more appealing and give you a true competitive edge.
So how can you talk up your achievements without feeling, or being, a fraud? What’s important is ensuring the way you present yourself is honourable and not misleading.
– Avoid making statements or claims you’re not sure you can deliver on. There’s a fine-line between healthy self-confidence and unrealistic hopes and dreams. When in doubt, stay on the side of confidence with caution.
– Avoid making false or misleading claims, unless you want to be branded a liar or cheat.
– Avoid embellishing your actual achievements, qualifications, or experience. It’s very easy for this type of information to be checked out, so make sure the claims you make stack up.
– When referring to your credentials, experience and qualifications do so in a way that’s truthful and accurate.
– If you discover claims are being made about you that isn’t true – even if those claims are largely positive, rather than negative – try and set the record straight as quickly as possible.
– Remember: over-promising and under-delivering are one of the biggest reputation damages there is. Failing to meet expectations – especially expectations you may have helped raise – makes it harder for you to impress in the future.
Faking it can lead to a tangled web of lies and deceit. Being sure in yourself that you are able to deliver on the claims you make is one of the biggest confidence boosters there is. And when you’re sure you can deliver, there’s no need to fake anything.
Article by Hannah Samuel