When you hear the advice “fake it ‘til you make it,” what are your immediate thoughts?
You know what I’m referring to right? The idea that if you appear confident and competent, other people will treat you that way. And this treatment will somehow result in true confidence.
I used to disregard that phrase as unhelpful nonsense. I’d think, “Don’t give me some vague cliché. Give me specific steps. I need a focused strategy. If you can’t do that for me then just shut up.”
Because usually I’d be in the middle of a major problem, sometimes crisis, and that would be the last thing I wanted to hear. But someone would say it.
It’s not a coincidence that this phrase frequently comes out when all the good ideas are exhausted and morale is low. People use it as a last-ditch effort to get your hopes up and speak positive (which is never a bad idea).
I made up my mind that the phrase is all fluff and no substance.
That’s until I did some research. And guess what? Now I look at the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” in an entirely different perspective.
Science made me look stupid. I’ll admit it’s not the first time.
The Science Behind This Phenomenon
A new study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology discovered that the way someone feels or acts in a group will determine their status over time. In other words, if a person goes into a group thinking they’re confident and assertive, soon others will believe it to be true and treat them that way.
Here are their findings:
Our results establish that approach-oriented psychological states affect status attainment, over and above the more stable characteristics emphasized in prior research, and provide the most direct test yet of the self-reinforcing nature of status hierarchies. These findings depict a dynamic view of status organization in which the same group may organize itself differently depending on members’ incoming psychological states.
Put simply, this research legitimizes the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it” in group dynamics.
For example, if you’re the most qualified person in the room, then you should be treated with the most respect. Everyone agrees with that, right?
Here’s what’s crazy. If you act like you’re the most qualified person in the room, even though you’re not, you’ll be treated as if you are.
Many times this edge in how people think about you is enough to get ahead in a competitive environment.
So when you’re able to leverage that extra respect and admiration to get a big advantage, that’s how you go from faking it to making it.
And that, my friends, is the magic behind this idea.
How To Put Fake ‘It Til You Make It To Practice
This fake it ‘til you make it strategy isn’t exclusive to one area of life. Use this strategy all over the board to:
Win more work – Take the job you don’t know how to do, then learn how to do it. I’ve taken many freelance projects (most memorably in web design), where I had to research how to do what the client wanted, while giving confidence I would complete the job well. It’s always worked and paid me well.
Convert more sales – Communicating strength to customers is always a good idea, even if you barely made the rent payment last month. Also, talking in the plural to potential customers using “we” instead of “I” can create the impression that your company is more established than it is, which may convert more sales.
Get more dates – Immediately when you see a girl or guy you want to get coffee or a drink with, ask them out there and then. Smile, look them in the eye, and mirror their body language to connect with them. They’ll never know how nervous you are if you act fast.
Dress for a great day – Wearing a killer outfit can help you feel better about yourself, which translates to more positive actions during the workday with your coworkers and clients. On the other hand, it’s hard to feel like a million bucks when you haven’t showered in days and threw on a random outfit in the dark because you were late for work.
Gain friends and things to do – Even if you’re not the friendliest person around, getting in the habit of regularly smiling will make others believe that you are. And when others believe you’re a fun guy or girl, that translates to more friendships and invitations to fun events.
Those are just five examples. My goal is that you see the power behind this in many different areas of life and use it to get better results.
How are you going to fake it ‘til you make it going forward?
You might as well take advantage of this discovery to become more successful in your pursuits.
So set a goal this week to test this method out and see how you can “make it” in an area where you never thought you could.
The opportunities to experiment with this are endless.
Plus, what do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing. It’s either a learning experience or a big win.