Ditch the Act: Fake it until you make it

Don’t Fake It Until You Make It, Face It Until You Make It

In the world of personal development, the phrase “fake it until you make it” has been widely circulated as a mantra for success. It suggests that we should act confidently as if we are already successful, even if we haven’t achieved that yet what we are hoping to achieve. While this advice may offer a temporary confidence boost, it often falls short of fostering genuine growth. A more effective approach, one that encourages authentic growth and lasting resilience, is to “face it until you make it.”

Working with horses, I very quickly discovered that this suggestion was not a good idea. It provides a compelling illustration of why the “fake it until you make it” approach is ineffective and can even be potentially harmful. Horses are highly attuned to human emotions and intentions. When we interact with horses, we must communicate clearly, honestly and authentically, as any attempt to fake competence is quickly detected and interpreted.

Drop the Facade

The concept of “faking it” implies creating a facade, a superficial projection of confidence and/or competence that may not align with our actual abilities. It encourages us to suppress our insecurities, ignore our doubts, and pretend to be something we are not – yet. While this approach might lead to short-term gains, it often neglects the underlying issues that hinder progress.

Horses respond to nonverbal cues, body language, and emotional energy, rather than words alone. They can sense incongruence between what we are feeling internally and what we are projecting externally. For instance, if someone is anxious or unsure but attempts to appear confident, a horse will immediately pick up on this discrepancy. As a result, our interaction with the horses may become strained or unproductive.

Instead of masking our insecurities with a facade, “facing it” means that we confront challenges head-on, acknowledge our weaknesses, and that we actively work to overcome them. It requires you to be honest with yourself, to embrace your vulnerability, and to be willing to endure discomfort for the sake of growth. While this path may seem daunting, it ultimately leads to greater self-awareness and increased resilience.

Adopt Authenticity

When we approach horses facing any fears or uncertainties and authentically, we can establish a deeper connection with the horses. Being with horses also requires us to be present, aware, and responsive to the horse’s feedback. Faking confidence or competence may lead to ineffective communication and missed opportunities for learning more about the horses and about ourselves. Embracing your vulnerability authentically fosters trust and mutual respect between you and the horse, laying the foundation for a more meaningful partnership.

Authenticity breeds trust and credibility. When we are honest about our abilities and limitations, we earn the respect of others. This way, we can build stronger relationships, based on trust.

Increase Resilience

In addition, “facing it” cultivates resilience in the face of adversity. Rather than avoiding challenges or pretending they don’t exist, confronting obstacles head-on helps us develop the resilience needed to navigate life’s inevitable setbacks. It helps us adapt to changing circumstances, so that we can emerge stronger and more capable as a result.

I am launching a new business venture this year. My eye problems is forcing me to do less onsite retreats here in the south of France, so I’m taking as much of what is practically possible online, as horse-inspired virtual retreats. This time, instead of putting on a front of unwavering confidence, I’m acknowledging the risks and uncertainties inherent in this new endeavour, which might well be a complete disaster. I am actively seeking feedback, I’m doing my best to learn from challenges, and pivot when necessary, all while staying true to my vision and values for this new part of my business.

My horses taught me the importance of authenticity, and genuine communication at all times. “Facing it until you make it” involves self-reflection, introspection, and continuous learning. I constantly have to confront my fears, insecurities, and limiting beliefs, accept my vulnerability and seek opportunities for growth, which allows me to gradually build the skills needed to achieve my goals.

Mindset Matters

“Facing it” fosters a growth mindset—the belief that abilities and skills can be developed through dedication and hard work. Rather than fixating on external validation, a growth mindset enables us to view challenges as opportunities for learning.

A “Faking it until you make it” mentality can cause imposter syndrome, the fear that we will be exposed as frauds if we don’t maintain the facade of success. This constant pressure to prove yourself can lead to burnout, and a sense of emptiness despite repeated achievements. One of my virtual retreats addresses the current Burnout Epidemic.

Summary: To truly thrive in today’s fast-paced and unpredictable world, we must embrace authenticity, vulnerability, and increase our resilience. By facing challenges head-on, acknowledging our weaknesses, and committing to continuous growth, we can cultivate the inner strength needed to navigate life’s trials and tribulations. So, rather than faking it until you make it, have the courage to face it until you make it—the journey may be challenging, but the rewards are infinitely more fulfilling.

Journal Prompts

Navigating Challenges with Courage: Empowering Journal Prompts for Authentic Growth

  • Think about a time when you received feedback that was difficult to hear. Rather than dismissing or internalizing it, how can you approach this feedback with curiosity? What opportunities for learning might emerge from accepting constructive criticism?
  • Consider your long-term goals and aspirations. What fears or insecurities are holding you back from pursuing these goals wholeheartedly? How can you cultivate the courage to step outside your comfort zone and pursue your dreams with authenticity and determination?
  • Reflect on a recent situation where you felt the urge to “fake it” or put on a facade of confidence. What were the underlying reasons for this need? How might embracing vulnerability and authenticity have changed the outcome?

“Cultivating authenticity isn’t just about being genuine with others; it’s also about being genuine with ourselves. When we embrace vulnerability and face our fears with honesty, we forge deeper connections and achieve greater success in all aspects of life.” Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston and the author of several bestselling books, including “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly.”


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