The Risks of Fake it Till You Make it

5 Reasons Why Faking it Can Cost You in the Long Run

The concept of “fake it till you make it” is popular in personal development books and training programs.

The premise is we can be a certain way or make ourselves do things, even if we don’t believe we can.

The positive intent behind the fake it till you make it premise is to help us generate self-confidence. A higher level of self-confidence can overcome any fears, doubts or concerns we may have to take a particular action.

While the concept may appear useful, it can have long-term effects, if it’s not applied with the right intent.

The word “fake” doesn’t have a positive vibe. No one likes to be known as a fake, so why would we want to come across as a fake?

Why Do We Buy into the “Fake it Till You Make it” Concept?

We can buy into the fake it till you make it concept if we have low self-esteem and lack confidence. Therefore, to compensate for low self-esteem and low confidence, we apply the concept to:

  • Prove or feel a sense of self-worth.
  • Be liked or validated by others.
  • Feel good about ourselves in front of others.
  • Appear to be smarter, important or know all the answers.
  • Come across as good enough to others.

While there’s nothing wrong with applying strategies to feel better about ourselves, we also have to consider the potential risks.

fake it till you make it

Like most people, I find speaking in front of an audience nerve-wrecking. When I started my speaking career, advice I received included not mentioning to the audience I was nervous or new to speaking.

It didn’t matter if I was afraid. I had to come across as confident and polished as a speaker.

What I was doing was suppressing my emotions and not allowing them to pass through me. Anything that’s suppressed will show up in other ways. Since I was “faking it” as a speaker, it showed in my body language and my facial expressions.

It also caused me to not enjoy the experience of speaking in front of audiences. It was only after I learned how to process my emotions and be authentic, I became more comfortable speaking.

Faking it was not helpful!

5 Risks of Fake it Till You Make it You Should Know

It’s valuable to know the risks of the fake it till you make it concept. Here are five risks to be aware of before you apply it.

  1. You can lose trust with yourself. Every time we tell ourselves we have to fake something, we’re inauthentic. We must protect the relationship we have with ourselves because that dictates our level of self-confidence and self-worth.
  2. You will lose trust with others. Once we lose trust with others, it’s challenging to gain that trust back. We never want to come across as a fake to others because people can see through someone who is a fake. People will connect well with us if we’re sincere, genuine and true to ourselves.
  3. You are looking to take shortcuts. When we convince ourselves to fake something, this becomes a mindset by which we operate. It means we don’t want to put in the effort to learn and develop ourselves in that area. Taking shortcuts isn’t the way to long-term, sustainable success.
  4. You can falsely believe you are better than you are. We’re all on a journey of self-discovery and learning. This means there will always be things we don’t know or haven’t done previously. We cannot pretend our way to being our best selves. We develop confidence and competence through commitment, discipline and practice to something we want to get good at.
  5. You won’t build empowering habits. Faking it can become a way we do things. This means we won’t build long-term relationships because we’ll be in the habit of not being sincere. Having a habit of always faking things, including what’s going on for us, isn’t a recipe for lasting happiness.

Suitable Alternatives to the Fake it Till You Make it Concept

As the concept originated regarding attempting to do something new, here are alternatives that may be better. Whenever you attempt to do something for the first time, these ideas will be helpful.

  1. Ask yourself what you would do or how you would act if you were confident. What would your confident, best-self do?
  2. Use the power of visualisation. Create mental images or scenes of how you want the experience to be like.
  3. Model someone you admire. If someone you know and admire has done what you want to, what would they do? How would they act?
  4. Have clear intentions. This is about knowing your outcomes and the reasons for wanting those outcomes.
  5. Create a learning and development plan. If you want to get better at something, identify the knowledge and skills required to be competent at it.
  6. Focus on developing more confidence. You will not need to fake anything if you have the confidence you want so focus on gaining more confidence.
  7. Keep a record of successes you’ve had in life. Having a “Success List” is one way to generate confidence. Whenever you accomplish something that matters to you, record it.


We don’t have to “fake it till you make it” at anything in life. Instead, we want to “be” a confident person and do what’s required to have more self-confidence. We shouldn’t have to force ourselves to fake anything if we are confident.

If we’re being the best person we can be, we’ll develop more of our potential and have a bigger impact. If we rely on the concept of “fake it till you make it” to generate confidence, we’ll struggle to be the person we know we can be.

Action Step: Next time you attempt to do something new, ask how would you show up or act if you knew you wouldn’t fail. Create mental images in your mind of exactly how you would like the experience to go.

Question: What are alternate risks or advantages of the fake it till you make it concept?