A new spin on the “Fake It Until You Make It” mindset? by Roz Usheroff

Over the years I have had the privilege of coaching both men and women on how they can increase their personal presence and build an enduring brand.

Needless to say, there has been a great deal of discussion surrounding job interviews and how to go about getting that promotion or landing that new position.

What has been most interesting is that I have noticed a trend in which men are more apt to go for a position even if they do not possess all of the prerequisite skill sets to do the job. Conversely, women are more inclined to line up their ducks in terms of acquiring all of the necessary skill sets before they seek a position.

“Don’t take action if you have only enough information to give you less than a 40 percent chance of being right, but don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100 percent sure, because by then it is almost always too late” – Colin Powell Leadership Lessons

While I am certain that there are no shortages of scientific studies and related articles that explain why this is the case, one thing is clear . . . men are willing to take on the challenge of mastering a new position regardless of their ability to do the job in the here and now.


Some would call this confidence, while others have referred to it has possessing the “fake it until you make it” mindset.

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that men are being dishonest in any way by adopting this “just win the position first and worry about the details later” approach. At worst they might be overconfident in their ability to master the position while on the job but, they are getting in the game with an attitude that they will ultimately succeed.

This being said is the “fake it until you make it” mindset a good think or a bad thing? After all there is a world of difference between presenting yourself as someone you are not and, someone who truly believes that they can deliver on their promise.

I often tell my clients to honor their authentic self but encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone to stand out and be noticed, but never at the expense of appearing fake and disingenuous.

In the context of today’s post, this means that if you truly believe that you can do the job even though you don’t possess 100 percent of the required skill sets, you should go for it.

The question then becomes why more women don’t follow a similar line of thinking?

This is perhaps where the impostor syndrome comes in to play, particularly with women in the business world.

In her June 3rd, 2013 Entrepreneur article “Fake It Until You Make It: How To believe In Yourself When You Don’t Feel Worthy“, Nadia Goodman writes; “The impostor syndrome is especially common among people who become successful quickly or early, and among outsiders, such as women in male-dominated industries. They explain away their success as luck or timing,” Young says. “They feel this sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Goodman then goes on to add that this fear “is stressful, and often leads people to hold back instead of pushing for bigger clients or more challenging opportunities”.

One of the suggested remedies is to “see faking as a skill”.

In reflecting upon this skill Valerie Young, an expert on impostor syndrome and, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women asserts, “knowing how to appear confident is a valuable asset in any job. It’s a skill to be able to walk in and act like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t”. The important caveat is that you conduct yourself in a manner that doesn’t cause “intentional harm or deceit”.

By adopting this view of faking it until you make it will, according to Young, help you to feel credible even when you’re out of your comfort zone.

This brings us back to my earlier point; if you honor your authentic self, then you are not really faking it but demonstrating your confidence in your ability to do whatever is necessary to get the job done no matter what you may face in the future.


“You don’t know what you can get away with until you try”

Colin Powell Leadership Lessons



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4 responses to “A new spin on the “Fake It Until You Make It” mindset? by Roz Usheroff”

  1. David Johnston says :

    Great article Roz, thanks for posting.

  2. imperfectous says :

    This is very timely as the other day I admitted to my boss that I feel a bit in over my head with the posts I currently have a t work and how I feel I need the skills to execute better. I did use the term ‘fraud’ I said I feel like a fraud and I thought it was just me. One it is good to know it’s a woman thing, though it is not comforting. Thanks to this post now I know I need to fake it till I make it and not be apologetic about it. I was actually even considering changing my title on LinkedIn. Thank you very much for posting this. Now I feel my confidence level has shot up to 100%

    • rozcoach says :

      We all go through times where we question our level of expertise. However, especially with females, I often say we don’t need enemies; we do a good enough job ourselves.
      Don’t let your self-talk rob you of confidence. Reframe and make it positive. You will be surprised at your confidence rising. Also, remember to be aware of your body language and take up more space, walk tall and look like you own the world!

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