The Truth About ‘Fake It Till You Make It’: A Call for Authentic Growth


In a world increasingly driven by appearances, the saying “fake it till you make it” has found its way into the lexicon of career advice, personal development, and even social interactions.

However, this approach, while seemingly effective in the short term, fundamentally undermines the essence of true progress and personal integrity.

Embracing this mantra can lead to a precarious foundation built on inauthenticity, potentially stunting genuine growth and learning.

The allure of appearing more competent, confident, or successful than we currently might provide an immediate boost or open doors, but it risks deepening the chasm between our real selves and the facades we present.

Moreover, this mindset perpetuates the dangerous notion that value is tied to perception rather than reality, ignoring the intrinsic worth of honesty, hard work, and authentic development.

Fake it until you make it, or…?

How often have you encountered this phrase? Lately, it seems to be everywhere.

Some contest its validity, questioning, “Really, how far are we willing to go?”

Others embrace it, arguing that the ends justify the means.

“Fake it till you make it” has become a widespread adage.

A cursory internet search reveals countless business presentations, credible media stories, and TED talks praising its benefits. It’s no wonder many of us are convinced that this approach can propel us toward achieving our goals.

Yet, it’s crucial to delve deeper into this phrase. I assert that it represents not just an individual strategy but a societal phenomenon.

No matter your current situation, change is possible.

Let’s start from the beginning.

In my view, honesty with oneself is paramount. Only through sincerity can true change occur. Deceiving ourselves leads nowhere.

Why “Fake it” Doesn’t Actually Work

Pretence doesn’t foster the development of our skills or confidence.

The rationale behind “fake it” is to enhance self-esteem and confidence temporarily, hoping that these will eventually become genuine.

From my experience, while “fake it till you make it” doesn’t truly deliver, the act of performing can temporarily boost confidence. However, it tends to feed into the “impostor syndrome.”

If “Fake It” is your guiding principle, how can you recognize your own excellence or view yourself as an expert, let alone expect others to do the same?

Let’s be honest. “Fake it”?

Should I pose a question? Is a lie, even when well-intentioned, still a lie? It’s essential to prioritize authenticity.

By denying or concealing your true level of expertise, you’re not only lying to yourself but also robbing others of the chance to learn from the real you.

We must consider our aspirations and the persona we wish to project in our professional lives.

Instead of striving to be someone we’re not, it would be more beneficial to acknowledge our current abilities, those we’re developing and gaining confidence in, and those that require further attention and action.

“Faking it” hinders our learning process.

While it’s unnecessary to broadcast our insecurities or lack of knowledge openly, presenting a false image of ourselves is equally unhelpful.

This not only reflects a lack of confidence but may also prevent us from receiving the support and opportunities we truly need.

Attempting to “fake it till you make it” can obscure other valuable aspects of your personality and skills that might be appealing to potential employers or colleagues.

Imagine encountering a professional in your field at an event, looking for someone to mentor. If you present a façade of undue confidence, that professional might overlook you, assuming you’re not in need of further development.

This is just one way in which we can inadvertently hinder our own progress.

Fake it? Why We Do It

Today, competence, knowledge, and confidence are highly prized.

Given the constant pressure to excel, the competitive nature of many fields, and the tendency of social media to showcase only the best moments, it’s understandable why many succumb to the temptation of faking these qualities.

But why engage in this behaviour?

To foster a sense of competition and to project confidence, perhaps.

While acknowledging one’s knowledge and competence is vital, it’s equally important to admit that we are all human and will, at times, encounter struggles, failures, and deficiencies.

The Missing Authenticity

Again, one must ask: does “fake it till you make it” truly serve us well?

I must be candid: the portrayal of life on social media is far from reality. In the digital age, where nearly everything is presented in its best light, where does authenticity stand?

While striving for our best is understandable, this effort should be grounded in honesty, not in the pretence of “faking it.”

Authenticity might carry us only so far before the truth becomes evident.

Let me share a personal anecdote to illustrate my point.

Dressing in a suit gives me a confidence boost when preparing for an important work meeting. This little ritual helps me feel secure.

Yet, the suit doesn’t endow me with knowledge or competence; those I convey through my actual expertise, which is difficult to fake. People recognize genuine skill and authenticity, which cannot be masked by mere appearances.

“Fake it till you make it” and Impostor Syndrome
At some point, we’ve all felt inadequate in certain areas of our lives.

Who hasn’t? To claim otherwise would be dishonest.

But have you heard of impostor syndrome?

This syndrome describes the psychological pattern where individuals doubt their accomplishments and fear being exposed as a “fraud.”

It’s marked by a conflict between one’s internal perception and external evidence of their competence.

Those afflicted by impostor syndrome often work harder to avoid being “found out,” setting increasingly higher standards for themselves.

This syndrome is fuelled by the fear of failure and the belief that one’s success is undeserved, attributing it to luck rather than skill or effort.
Pretending can temporarily ease these feelings, but without genuine self-improvement, the underlying insecurities remain.

The Solution: Face it Until You Make it

Instead of hiding behind a facade, we should embrace and confront our challenges.

Self-confidence plays a crucial role in nearly every aspect of a fulfilling life. It’s essential to face our fears head-on.

Accept that failure is a part of the process. Stand up, face your challenges, and persist. As the Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

Life is a blend of hardship and beauty. True satisfaction and accomplishment come from genuine effort and overcoming challenges.

By choosing to face rather than fake our challenges, we invest in our long-term growth and skill development, building a foundation of genuine self-confidence and resilience.

Beyond the Facade

Many of us aim to improve aspects of ourselves that we believe are holding us back. Whether it’s becoming more confident, disciplined, or ambitious, the key is to practice genuinely until these traits become a natural part of us.

Instead of resorting to pretence, focus on authentic growth and learning. We are all works in progress, and embracing our imperfections is what makes life rich and rewarding.

As we navigate an increasingly digital world, authentic skills and talents become even more valuable. “Faking it till you make it” is not only ineffective but can also hinder your career, relationships, and overall well-being.

By persisting and continuously improving, we not only enhance our abilities but also open doors to new opportunities for growth and learning.

Honesty about your skills and limitations is crucial. A breach of trust, once detected, is hard to mend.

Trust, once built, forms the foundation of all successful relationships, but it’s fragile and easily broken.

This post was written by Mario Bekes