Fake it ’til You Make It

I had the incredible opportunity to hear Sandra Yancy, founder of eWomen Network, talk at one of our recent events. I can’t even begin to tell you how inspiring, motivating, uplifting, phenomenal (keep inserting great adjectives here) the whole thing was. She was funny, easy to listen to, unassuming and, most importantly, real.

She spoke of The Little Engine that Could. I’ll do a full post on that as soon as my copy gets here. That was an eye opener in itself.

She spoke of being almost broke. She talked about the perseverance it took to make it through.

She talked about the need for other people and the importance of relationships.

She is also of the opinion that “fake it ’til you make it” is utter crap.

Record screeches

Huh? Isn’t this the mantra that all self confident, newly emerging folks live by? Isn’t this the mind set that is required to exude confidence and be that person in the room that people want to know and be known by? How can this be wrong?

We have all heard it…fake it ’til you make it. You have the world by the tail and if you don’t the only person that needs to know that is you. Right?

No – how on earth are you going to get the support, mentorship and guidance you need if no one knows that you are going through hard times? You have to let people know when things are wrong so you can get the help you need to get it back on track. Right?

No – this, as in most things, has, in my opinion, a truth that lies somewhere in the middle. That “middle truth” happens to hand in hand with another truth I believe in – everyone needs a safe place to bleed.

It is true that some people

  • want to know, associate with and do business with successful people.
  • want to help and assist those who are falling on tough times.
  • will eat the weak.
  • nourish the poor.

Therefore, seems to me that application of this “fake it ’til you make it” idea is situational.

There are times when total confidence, even in the face of total defeat, is a necessity.

There are times when one must unload the weight, ask for help carrying it and collaborate for way to make it lighter.

The trick is differentiating between the occasions.


  • Do you fall on one of the two sides or in the middle?
  • How do you know when either approach is appropriate?
  • Do you think the strategy changes depending on the size of the market or the makeup of the business community (i.e. working in New York City versus Small Town USA)


  1. Wade Young says:

    I know a guy who is a success coach. He even wrote a book on wealth. At the time the book came out, he was living on welfare. I think that type of faking it until you make it is nothing short of dishonesty.

    In my own life, I have tried both approaches. I have kept things from my friends and family, pretending that everything was honkey dorey. I have evolved to an approach wherein I am totally upfront with people about the things going on in my life. I am in the midst of a legal battle right now with someone who owes me a large sum of money. My family and friends know all about it. If you don’t tell people what is going on in your life, you have no intimacy; hence no real relationship.

    My policy is to exude total confidence all the time. However, I am also honest with people. The key is to be confident in the midst of trouble while being honest. The brave do not deny the battle. They acknowledge it, and then they handle it with confidence and grace.

    • Wade – Brilliant assessment of the idea. I have a new quote for the wall…

      “The brave do not deny the battle. They acknowledge it, and then they handle it with confidence and grace.”

      That may very well be the biggest “ah ha” moment I have in a while – I am so glad you decided to take the time to join in the discussion.

      However – I will say…dishonest or no – I ain’t telling everybody everything 😉

  2. I think it’s as simple as presenting a confident face to your prospective market without overstating your expertise. There are times when you do say YES, then figure out how you’re going to do it.

    At the same time, without a supportive group of colleagues, friends and mentors, you will crash and burn baby. Not a good option.

    Very thought-provoking April!

    • Pete – I think you have a good point…except the “simple” part 😉 What I hear you describing is a balance that can be very effective yet difficult to maintain. Especially of you are in a smaller market where there is one degree of separation. And it gets really interesting when your supportive friends are your clients…don’t ya think?

  3. A great, thought-provoking post…

    In reply to your questions, I would have to say I stand in the middle of the road, and as most things are, it is situational and subjective.

    One thing for sure, I am never dishonest, but I may not include all the details that may not be necessary or helpful to any of the parties involved.

    On a professional level, it may not always work in your favour to have full disclosure, especially when not warranted… but then again, it may, and it will depend on who you’re dealing with, when and where, and circumstances during that time.

    On a personal level, I believe in honesty all the time… however, that does not mean I continue to spill my life stories continuously. Especially for those who have played the role of victim (such as myself), there needs to be a balance between sharing/intimacy and whining.

    Balance, overall, is beautiful thing, and I would hope my intuition would guide me through it…

    Thanks for this fantastic discussion…

    copywriting business

    • Sam,

      Thanks! And I think your comment is spot on! In this, as in most things, the key is balance and the answer is maybe.

      I am really glad you stopped by and I hope you will do it again soon!


  4. This is something I’m dealing with now. It’s not easy! It seems like something that can be applied to many situations: http://myselfthird.blogspot.com/ . Good luck everyone!

  5. Oh…. where to start??Z My reason for “googling” the “fake it til you make it” saying was prompted by a friend’s comment, who “voluntarily” councels young adults and children who have been raped and/or abused. She told me, and in a very flippant manner, almost as if it was cute that it rhymed, that part of what she tells them is to “fake it til you make it”…..I was horrified. The reason this was brought up was her attempt to “tell me” how to deal with the loss of my daughter. I lost my daughter in a tragic auto accident in June of ’09, and have received many “anicdotes” for my grief, but this said to me was highly offensive, and horrifying to hear that she says this to children and young adults who are depending on her to be a source of comfort….a person that will let them “bleed” , NEVER to have to fake it. I totally agree that you should be honest, but be careful of how much, who to, and what you divulge….but, it is most definitely situational, and a very fine line between the two….but in my case or these children, that comment is appauling advice, and one of the last things that should be expected……VERY, very, offensive….BTW, this person has a masters in psychology and social work…..SCARY

  6. Babz,

    I can’t even begin to imagine the hurt in your heart and I obviously have no words that could begin to comfort.

    The situations you describe are amazingly personal and individual. Except as a parent and a friend I am unqualified to speak to individuals experiencing the challenges you describe. This article was not intended to speak to that kind of challenge. However, it does speak to the situational appropriateness of the thoughts.

    I hope you are fully supported and I wish you the best.

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