Does The “Fake It Till You Make It” Attitude Actually Work?
Photo Credit: Luca Barcellona via Compfight
Back in 2009, Stephanie L Stolz of Missouri Western University conducted an interesting study. Using fake questionnaires and several items of varying importance, she set out to find the effect of negative and positive reinforcement in mundane tasks. What she discovered was what we have always suspected: confidence has a large effect on performance.
In the case of this study, that performance was shooting baskets. But in every day life, it could mean getting (or keeping) a job, finding and maintaining a relationship, and even just fighting off depression. We have to feel like we are making progress in life, which requires taking real steps forward. Believing in yourself is a key element to that.
This is where the saying “Fake it till you make it” comes from. Or, at least what it means. If you don’t feel confident, pretend you are until you gain the experience or tools necessary that it is all for real. Even therapists use it all the time for patient’s suffering from depression. Though it might feel artificial and forced in the beginning, soon it will become more natural until you are happier and healthier.
No one feels competent 100% of the time, but they press on.
But does it really work? The study above was a great reminder of how I myself started in the Internet marketing industry… and how I faked it!
My Personal Story…
From personal experience, I can say I believe wholeheartedly in this concept. Because it is how I changed my life for the better, and found a niche I never knew I would.
A few years ago I was facing a crisis. I was pregnant and unemployed (the firm I was working at got bankrupt during the first and the hardest months of my pregnancy). On top of all, I had a huge debt because we were building a home for our new family.
Being pregnant, the conditions of my employment were not safe. Adapted work would have had a significant pay cut and worse hours, so it was hardly worth it. I would need to find a new job.
In the economy at the time, this was no easy feat. I needed something with the right hours. Also, I would have to find someone willing to hire a woman who would be going on maternity leave in less than a year. My options were limited.
The first step to faking it…
The answer came to me out of desperation. Working for my previous employer, I did acquire some basic knowledge about search engine optimization. It was really basic because in my country (Ukraine) Internet was in its infancy. The tactics we were using were long outdated for the US. But I knew I was learning fast!
I started a blog with the self-confident name: SEO Smarty. I borrowed my online moniker from it: Ann Smarty which fit my blog nicely. That was my first step to faking it: now anyone who saw me, thought I was probably SEO-smart!
The faking it…
Working for next to no pay in the beginning, I built a reputation. I was not a complete SEO newbie but I wasn’t an SEO expert as well. I didn’t try to seem an expert as well but from my blogging and commenting people assumed I should be. One blog post at that time took me 7 days of research – that’s how LITTLE I knew and had to learn on the way at that time.
The more I faked it, the more I learned. Before long, I was making twice what I had been in half the hours, working from home, ghost-blogging for others. My confidence – once a shallow facade – became more solid and real. I felt worth enough to turn it into my single career.
Then I started consulting. It was another challenge. I knew a lot already but I was lacking practical knowledge. But I took any client approaching me: be it reputation management, link building or SEO reporting. My rates were really low: I needed gigs to learn from them, not to earn money! I would have been happy to work for free, but there was no good way to explain to a client why an expert like me would like to work for no charge
They did think I was an established expert with huge experience – that was probably one of the reasons, they were always happy with my reports and work (not saying I did a bad job – I’ve always been a very thorough girl. But if they had known I was quite new, they would have probably been more willing to find faults with me).
No one was around to help me. I was scared of failing and sometimes I did. But I am still here, working in a niche I love many years later. All because I faked it until I made it, at least to the point where I am now.
I am a firm believer in faking it. I also believe that everyone does it to a certain extent, and there is nothing wrong with that. The mind can be tricked, and you can balance your life on that little hack. In the meantime, you will learn what you need to and turn that pretend confidence into the real deal. All it takes is a little nerve.
Ann Smarty is the search and social marketer, self-funded entrepreneur and blogger. One of her oldest projects is MyBlogGuest, the free guest blogging platform. She also recently co-founded Viral Content Buzz, the free social media promotion tool. She has also just moved Upstate of New York to join the most wonderful Internet Marketing company ever.
Image Credits: 1, 2.