Blog: Fake It ‘Til You Make It

on February 8, 2017

Recently, I’ve been talking to a lot of gifted young adults, fresh out of college, who feel pretty unsure about what they should do next. Their most dominant concern is that the thing they truly want to do, be it write a book or start their own business, is also the thing they aren’t confident they can do. For those people, I have six words of advice:

Fake it till you make it.

Here is the dirty little secret of the adult working world: We all have done that, and we all do that. When a manager gives an employee a new project that she has never done before, do you know what she does? She figures it out. She fakes it until she makes it. The small business owner, when confronted with a new client with new needs, does the same thing. The new entrepreneur does it in spades.

Do you know what I had had published before I got my first book deal (to write four books no less)? Exactly one letter to the editor. That I didn’t know how to write a book was not going to stop me. I had evoked confidence in the publisher and he trusted that I could deliver what I was promising.

I had to fake it, until I didn’t.

How many companies had Bill Gates started before he started Microsoft? Zero. How many phones had Steve Jobs created before he invented the iPhone? None. Did that stop them? No.

What I would tell any young person who is just starting out in their career is that it is your job right now to figure out what your gifts are and then to figure out how you can best share them with the world.

The real trick in life someone once said is to get them to pay you to do what you love to do.

But you also can’t expect that that will happen any time soon.

For most of us, it takes quite a while to figure out that we want to be an entrepreneur or lawyer or whatever, and then even more time to get in a position where we have a job or business that financially supports us doing that.

In the meantime, you are not going to wake up one day and realize what your passion is. Yes, graduation speakers are wont to say that you need to follow your passion. I would disagree.

To me, work and life are like a river. You need to set sail down the river in a general direction that makes some sense right now. As you travel down that river, you will try something out and eventually bump into a side of the riverbank and then need to head off in a different direction. Later you will bump into the other side of the river and make another course correction. While it might seem that you are doing nothing but bumping from side to side, in actuality you are gaining invaluable experience, all while figuring out more and more what direction your river flows.

You will need to be bold. You will need to trust that your smarts and moxie will help you learn what you need to know. Now is the time to try and write that novel. Now is the time to move to New York and become a comedian. Now is the time to invent that app. Now is the time to see what floats your boat.

And be sure to be kind to yourself. Don’t worry if you make a mistake – because you will. And don’t worry that that next job is not perfect because it won’t be. As my brother likes to say, your next job is not your last job, it’s just your next job. It will eventually just be another bump and course correction down the river of life.

But guess what? Before long you will have found what really does interest you, what you are great at.

You will just need to get bumped up a bit along the way and fake it a few times before you get there.

© 2017, The Strauss Group, Inc.