You know that saying, ‘fake it till you make it’? Let’s unpack that a little.
Fake it till you’ve reached success
‘Fake it till you make it’ is meant to encourage people to imagine themselves in a place of success. To imagine that with hard work and dedication you can experience success and the good things that flow from that.
Wikipedia puts it like this ‘by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realise those qualities in their real life.’
It’s a mindset thing really.
In a way, maybe it can be encouraging - you know, as a law student, I may imagine myself as a practising lawyer, well-equipped to argue a case. This may give me a sense of confidence to push through law school.
Or perhaps you’re in training for a running event. You imagine that come race day - your heart and lungs are fit, your muscles are strong. You imagine the feeling as you cross the finish line and the euphoria you feel after you clocked all those kilometres, and that is what motivates you through gruelling training runs.
Sounds like an ideal form of motivation, doesn’t it?
However, I think it is sometimes casually used to justify a sense of being self-made and the confidence, sense of achievement and wisdom that flows as a consequence. In another sense, I think it encourages people to be a bit fake, to put up a façade of experience and wisdom, all while being only just half committed to the journey.
As Jesus followers perhaps we ought to be cautioned against falling into this trap of faking it till we make it - for a couple reasons.
Run the race
My home church has a really great verse spread across one of the walls. I’m sure you’ve heard it before:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1-3).
I don’t think we quite have that whole passage up on the wall but we do have verse 1, encouraging us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
I read those verses and I’m immediately encouraged to participate in the journey. I want to run the race, to enjoy the pilgrimage and soak up the experience.
Reading through it further we are reminded of the suffering Jesus experienced on the cross and the opposition he faced, and that he himself endured through. Now, doesn’t that take a new form, a more powerful form, of motivation?
So much of what we get out of life is not just from the destination, but from the journey that we sometimes have to arduously endure to get there. Jesus is well experienced in that too.
Lack of foundation
If, in the name of faking it till we make it, we begin to resent the journey, the long race, because it slows down our progress as we instead wish to hurtle towards success, I think we will find we will miss out on so much growth and we will undermine the success we are so desperate for.
We find a success that isn’t built up on any sort of strong foundation.
‘Fake it till you make it’ ignores one of the very key aspects towards ‘success’ as we know it - laying a decent foundation. Success built on thin ground, on an imitation of strength, doesn’t really provide the lasting effects of wisdom, maturity and humility that persevering through the journey would bring.
Bob Goff in his book ‘Everybody Always’ puts the problem of faking it another way. He talks about how we get so used to reading the fake news about ourselves that ‘we end up believing we’ve arrived at a place we haven’t yet’.
We think we have reached a level of maturity that we actually haven’t. And when we try to live and lead out of that place, we don’t have the experience or wisdom to do so. We let ourselves down and we let others down, and don’t make room for the lessons that God might want us to learn during the race.
Now to enjoy the race
So what do we do about it? Well let’s stop faking it till we make it and start running the race, persevering and seeing the journey through to completion.
Let’s enjoy the race and the experiences that go with it. Let’s be excited about how we will be shaped and moulded. Let’s look forward with the understanding that the journey allows us to gain wisdom, lead with humility and experience a more righteous success.
It’s definitely not easy, but almost always worth it.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at email@example.com.