Fake It Till You Make It: The Pros and Cons

Last updated on July 15th, 2024 at 10:37 am

We often hear people especially motivational speakers encourage others to “fake it till you make it”, in their quest to inspire and imbue confidence in people.

Most times, it’s easier said than done and can hurt where it is meant to help, especially when you have an integrity to protect or competence to prove.

Though this cliché can help people step into the unknown, and take risks when they are not prepared or know what the situation holds, the result can go either way.

We have detailed the pros and cons of “Fake it Till You Make it” – situations where it can be effective, strategies for using it effectively, and real-life examples of successful individuals who have used this approach.

Fake it till you make it meaning

It is a popular phrase that encourages individuals to act confidently and take risks, even if they don’t feel fully prepared or qualified.

The idea behind this approach is to project a sense of confidence and competence, even if you don’t feel it inside.

By acting in a confident and capable manner, even when you may not feel that way, you can begin to change your internal mindset and beliefs about yourself.

This can help to push past self-doubt, fear, and insecurity, and allow you to take risks, try new things, and ultimately achieve success.

Related: Insatiable Curiosity: Unleashing Your Inner Explorer

The strategy can be useful in situations such as job interviews, public speaking, and starting a new business, where projecting confidence and competence is important, even if you don’t feel fully prepared.

However, it is important to use this approach effectively and not allow it to lead to dishonesty or deception.

It is also essential to be true to your values and ethics while using this approach.

Reasons for the popularity of “Fake It Till You Make It”

It is popular because it is a simple and effective strategy for building self-confidence and achieving success.

Many people struggle with self-doubt, fear, and insecurity, which can hold them back from taking risks and pursuing their goals.

By adopting a mindset of confidence and projecting that outwardly, individuals can start to shift their internal beliefs and become more confident and capable.

This approach can also help individuals to take risks and try new things, which can lead to personal growth and development.

The pros of faking situations

There are several benefits to using this strategy. Here are some of the pros:

1. Helps to build self-confidence

Faking confidence can be a useful technique to boost self-assurance. By pretending to be confident, one can trick the mind into believing it.

This helps overcome anxiety and self-doubt, presenting oneself more positively. For instance, when giving a speech, adopting confident behavior can lead to feeling more in control.

2. Encourages risk-taking and growth

Faking situations can promote growth and risk-taking by providing a framework for tackling new challenges.

Adopting a “fake it” attitude allows for confidence and positivity in unfamiliar situations. This approach helps overcome fear and self-doubt, enabling the pursuit of new opportunities and personal development.

However, it should be balanced with genuine learning and growth, as it is not a long-term strategy.

Related: Witty Banter: The Art Of Clever Conversations

3. Boosts performance

Faking confidence can enhance performance by overcoming self-doubt and anxiety.

Adopting a positive mindset, even if not fully genuine, allows individuals to focus on tasks and perform better. It builds resilience and adaptability, enabling success in unfamiliar or challenging situations.

4. Allows for experimentation and discovery

The “Fake it till you make it” approach encourages experimentation and self-discovery.

By pretending to be confident, individuals can step outside their comfort zone and try new things.

This leads to freedom, exploration, and potential discoveries. It allows for openness and curiosity, enabling learning from new experiences, even if they don’t go perfectly.

Also Read: 7 Strategies For Building Competence And Skills In Your Industry

5. Enables you to learn from your mistakes

The approach encourages risk-taking and learning from mistakes. It helps build self-confidence and resilience.

However, it should be used ethically and not involve deception. By adopting a growth mindset, mistakes become opportunities for growth.

This approach fosters curiosity and openness, enabling personal development. It also cultivates adaptability and determination to overcome challenges.

Embracing a confident and proactive attitude, even if not fully genuine, empowers individuals to achieve their goals.

Related: Overcoming Social Awkwardness: A Guide for the Socially Inept

The Cons of “Fake It Till You Make It”

While there are several benefits to using the strategy, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.

Here are some of the cons:

1. Can lead to unrealistic expectations

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It can lead to unrealistic expectations. It can set false expectations for oneself and others by projecting confidence and competence without the necessary skills or knowledge.

It can also create unrealistic expectations for personal growth. It’s important to be honest about abilities and seek help when needed to avoid creating unrealistic expectations.

2. Can lead to dishonest

It can lead to dishonesty if taken too far. Exaggerating qualifications or consistently projecting false confidence can deceive others and harm relationships.

It’s crucial to strike a balance between confidence and honesty to maintain authenticity and meaningful connections.

3. May not work in all situations

While it can be an effective strategy in some situations, it may not work in all situations.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Technical expertise: Confidence alone is insufficient in situations requiring specialized knowledge or technical expertise. For instance, a surgeon must possess the necessary skills and knowledge to perform a successful surgery.
  • Ethical considerations: Projecting confidence can be unethical, such as when a lawyer misleads a client and the court by projecting confidence in a weak case.
  • Safety concerns: In situations involving safety, confidence alone is inadequate. For example, a pilot must possess the skills and knowledge to safely operate an aircraft.
  • Personal growth: While projecting confidence can be helpful, it may not be enough for long-term personal growth. Taking classes or working with a coach may be necessary to develop skills, like improving public speaking abilities.

Recognize when projecting confidence is not enough and to take the necessary steps to develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in those situations.

4. Can lead to imposter syndrome

The approach can contribute to imposter syndrome, where individuals doubt their abilities and feel like frauds.

Consistently projecting false confidence can undermine self-esteem and mental health.

Striking a balance between confidence and honesty, seeking feedback, and acknowledging accomplishments can counteract imposter syndrome.

Related: Life Starts When Your Comfort Zone Ends

5. May not address underlying issues

Merely projecting confidence may not address underlying issues of self-doubt and insecurity.

Building sustainable self-confidence requires addressing root causes, such as low self-esteem or lack of necessary skills.

Combining the approach with therapy, self-reflection, or education can establish genuine confidence and competence for long-term success.

6. It can lead to complacency

To avoid complacency, it’s crucial to balance the fake-it-approach with a commitment to continuous learning and improvement.

Relying solely on projecting confidence can lead to a false sense of security and hinder personal growth.

Being honest about skills and abilities when necessary is essential for long-term success.

Related: Why You Cringe When Others Embarrass Themselves

7. Can hinder personal growth and development

The fake-it approach can hinder personal growth by limiting genuine learning and preventing the pursuit of true passions.

Relying on constant faking can trap individuals in a cycle that hinders self-worth and prevents the full benefits of personal development.

True growth involves self-awareness, meaningful relationships, and overall fulfillment.

8. Can negatively impact relationships

The approach can harm relationships by creating a foundation of deception and hindering genuine connections.

Relying on this approach to avoid addressing underlying issues can lead to dependency on pretending, rather than addressing and resolving personal challenges.

To maintain healthy relationships, use the “Fake it till you make it” approach sparingly and with caution.

Prioritize authenticity and honesty, while addressing underlying issues. This fosters genuine connections based on trust, respect, and understanding.

Also Read: Emotional Awareness: The Proactive Way To Regulate Your Emotions

Situations where “Fake It Till You Make It” can be effective

Faking it till you make it can be effective in the following situations:

1. Public speaking

The “Fake it till you make it” approach can be effective in public speaking by helping individuals overcome nervousness and self-doubt.

By adopting a confident mindset, individuals can perform better and develop their speaking skills.

However, it should be combined with preparation, practice, and genuine learning to achieve lasting success as confident and effective public speakers.

2. Job interviews

During job interviews, it is crucial to be honest about qualifications and experience. Faking skills or exaggerating abilities can lead to negative consequences.

Instead, focus on presenting genuine strengths and qualifications while acknowledging areas for improvement.

Emphasize willingness to learn and adaptability. Being honest allows for a clear understanding of job expectations and increases the chances of succeeding in the role.

3. Starting a business

It can be an effective strategy for starting a business because it helps you project confidence and establish yourself as a credible and competent entrepreneur, even if you don’t yet have a lot of experience or resources.

Here are some ways it can be effective in starting a business:

  • Establishing credibility: When starting a business, projecting confidence and expertise can help establish credibility with investors, customers, and partners, even without a proven track record. Convincing others to take a chance on your business becomes more likely.
  • Building a brand: Projecting confidence helps establish a strong brand identity. By presenting yourself as a confident and knowledgeable entrepreneur, you can build a positive reputation in your industry.
  • Networking: Confidence aids in making new connections and building relationships with potential investors, customers, and partners. By presenting yourself as confident and friendly, you can attract new contacts and expand your network.
  • Overcoming obstacles: Confidence helps overcome challenges in business. By presenting yourself as a confident and resilient entrepreneur, you can inspire your team and motivate yourself to keep pushing forward, even in the face of adversity.
  • Establishing credibility: Establishing credibility is crucial when starting a business. By projecting confidence and expertise, you can convince potential investors, customers, and partners to take a chance on your business, even without a proven track record.

4. Trying new things

The fake-it strategy can be an effective strategy when trying new things because it helps you overcome fear, build confidence, and develop new skills.

Here are some ways it can be effective when trying new things:

  • Overcoming fear: Trying new things can be scary, but projecting confidence can help you overcome your fear and take action. By presenting yourself as a confident and capable person, you may be able to push past your fear and try new things with greater ease.
  • Building confidence: Confidence is a key ingredient for success in any endeavor, and projecting confidence can help you build it. By presenting yourself as a confident and capable person, you can start to believe in yourself and your abilities, which can help you take on new challenges with greater ease.
  • Developing new skills: Trying new things often requires developing new skills, and projecting confidence can help you develop them more quickly. By presenting yourself as a confident and capable person, you may be able to learn new skills more easily, because you’ll be more willing to take risks and make mistakes.
  • Overcoming self-doubt: Self-doubt can hold you back from trying new things, but projecting confidence can help you overcome it. By presenting yourself as a confident and capable person, you can start to believe in yourself and your abilities, which can help you overcome self-doubt and take action.

Situations where “Fake It Till You Make It” should not be applied

While it can be an effective strategy in some situations, there are also many situations where it should not be applied.

Here are some examples of situations where using this strategy could be harmful or ineffective:

1. Safety-critical situations

In situations where safety is a primary concern, it’s important to be honest about your abilities and limitations. “Faking it” in these situations could put yourself or others at risk.

2. Professional licensing or certification

In certain professions, such as medicine or law, professional licensing or certification is required to practice. “Faking it” in these situations could be illegal and could result in serious consequences.

3. Ethical or moral situations

“Faking it” in situations that require honesty, integrity, or moral courage could have serious ethical or moral implications.

For example, if you’re asked to lie or deceive others, “faking it” would be unethical and could damage your reputation and credibility.

4. Long-term success

“Faking it” may be effective in the short term, but it’s not a sustainable strategy for long-term success.

In the long run, it’s important to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to succeed in your chosen field.

In these situations, it’s important, to be honest about your abilities and limitations, and to work on developing the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to succeed.

How to use “Fake it Till You Make it” effectively

If you choose to use this strategy, here are some tips to help you use it effectively:

1. Be honest about your limitations

While it’s important to project confidence, it’s equally important, to be honest about your abilities and limitations. Don’t make false claims or promises that you can’t deliver on.

2. Focus on your strengths

Identify your strengths and focus on them. Play to your strengths and highlight them when presenting yourself to others.

3. Emulate successful people

Observe successful people in your field and try to emulate their behavior. Pay attention to how they present themselves and what they do to project confidence.

4. Learn as much as you can

While “faking it,” you should also work on developing the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to succeed. Read books, take courses, and seek mentorship to help you learn and grow.

5. Be willing to make mistakes

“Faking it” involves taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.

6. Practice, practice, practice

Practice your skills and your confidence-building techniques regularly. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become.

7. Evaluate your progress

Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your approach as needed. Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from others to help you improve.

Real-Life Examples of “Fake it Till You Make it” Success Stories

There are many real-life examples of people who have successfully used the “Fake It Till You Make It” strategy to achieve success in their chosen field. Here are a few examples:

  • Richard Branson: Branson is a well-known entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group. In his early days, he had no experience running a record label, but he managed to secure a loan and start Virgin Records. He pretended to be an established player in the music industry and was able to attract top talent and make a name for himself.
  • Amy Cuddy: Cuddy is a social psychologist who gave a TED talk on “power posing,” which involves adopting confident body language to boost confidence. She admitted to feeling like an imposter while giving her talk, but her message resonated with millions of people and helped her become a sought-after speaker and author.
  • Sara Blakely: Blakely is the founder of Spanx, a company that produces body-shaping undergarments. She had no background in fashion or design but was able to create a prototype and pitch her product to Neiman Marcus. She pretended to be a larger company with more resources than she actually had, and the gamble paid off. Today, Spanx is a multi-million-dollar company.
  • JK Rowling: Rowling was a struggling writer and single mother when she came up with the idea for Harry Potter. She was rejected by several publishers before finally finding success. In interviews, she admitted to feeling like a fraud and worrying that people would discover she was not a “real” writer.

These success stories illustrate how the strategy can be used to overcome obstacles, build confidence, and achieve success.

Frequently asked questions

What does “Fake it till you make it” mean?

It means pretending to be something you’re not until you have the skills or confidence you need to actually be that person.

Is it a good idea to fake it till you make it?

It depends on the situation. In some cases, it can be a helpful strategy for building confidence and overcoming fear. However, in other situations where you’re expected to have a certain level of expertise or experience, trying to fake it can be risky and ultimately damaging to your reputation.

When should you use “Fake it till you make it”?

You should use it when you’re trying to break out of a comfort zone or push yourself to try something new that you’re not quite ready for. However, it’s important to use this strategy wisely and not overcommit to something you can’t follow through on.

What are some examples of “Fake it till you make it”?

Examples include rehearsing a speech or presentation until you feel confident delivering it, pretending to be confident in a job interview even if you’re nervous, or networking with people in your field even if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

How do you avoid negative consequences from “Fake it till you make it”?

To avoid negative consequences, it’s important to be honest about your level of expertise or experience with others, keep learning and developing your skills, and be willing to ask for help when you don’t know something. It’s also important to be realistic about what you can and can’t accomplish with your current level of expertise.


In conclusion, the “Fake It Till You Make It” strategy can be a powerful tool for building confidence, overcoming self-doubt, and achieving success.

While it has its pros and cons, there are situations where it can be effective, such as when starting a business or trying new things.

However, it’s important to use this strategy in moderation and with caution. When taken too far, it can lead to dishonesty, unrealistic expectations, and even imposter syndrome.

It’s also not a one-size-fits-all solution, as there are situations where it may not be appropriate or effective.

To use this strategy effectively, it’s important to set achievable goals, break them into smaller tasks, track your progress, and adjust your goals as needed. Seeking support and feedback from others can also be helpful.


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Pious Clements is the insightful voice behind "The Conducts of Life" blog, where he writes about life ethics, self-development, life mastery, and the dynamics of people and society.

With a profound understanding of human behaviuor and societal dynamics, Pious offers thought-provoking perspectives on ethical living and personal growth.
Through engaging narratives and astute observations, he inspires readers to navigate life's complexities with wisdom and integrity, encouraging a deeper understanding of the human experience and our place within society.