Make it, don’t pretend
fAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT is a common refrain in our culture. But it has been wrongly used to justify all sorts of bad behavior and outright lies, as Sabrina Horn rightly points out in Make it, don’t pretend.
Of all the business and career memes to gain popularity, few have compromised integrity in business, leadership, and personal success more than the phrase “Fake it till you make it.” With roots in well-intentioned early twentieth-century psychotherapy, this stage has degenerated into a mantra that has encouraged and even normalized lying to get ahead. Now a product of modern American culture that all too easily rolls off the tongue, its very existence tells you it’s okay to lie, from twisting the truth a bit to blatantly misleading others for personal win.
How true. We cannot be surprised by this in a culture that encourages selective truth, self-promotion and short cuts. While some use this maxim to fake a persona or misrepresent who they really are, it was never meant to be about lying. It is about turn into. It is a resources become something, not a state of creature.
Similarly, some people embrace vulnerability to ignore their weaknesses. The culture of vulnerability that has emerged is often used to help us justify our weaknesses rather than face the truth and do something to grow them to a non-toxic level. When we realize in our self-consciousness that our authentic selves are standing in our way and undermining our leadership, it’s time we do something about it instead of closing our eyes and putting a label of authenticity on it.
Bluff through it is about pretending. If you want more friends, it’s not about talking about all the friends you have, but starting to act in a way that invites friendships — like being friendly and smiling. Bluff through it It’s about adopting a mindset to get results, not playing with the facts and lying about things that aren’t like they are.
To counter this cultural condition, Make it, don’t pretend is about “ethics, passion, trust, pride, resilience, dedication and survival in a business context. It’s about doing the right things the right way. This almost always means doing them the hard way.”
In varying degrees of counterfeiting, it falls along a continuum from acting “as if” to outright fraud. Horn discusses these varying degrees of forgery – or call it what it is – deception. In the heat of the moment, most of these concoctions are easy to fall into. It gets us through. But they demand not only our character, but the continued success that could be ours.
Horn then takes us on her journey as CEO of a public relations and marketing communications agency. So she knows what’s fake and what’s not and what the consequences of each are. We’re often like PR and spin as one and the same, but well done Horn says, it’s not. I like her take on it:
There is a big difference in intent between deceiving people by making something look better than it actually is and simply bringing to life what is most compelling about it for the purpose of earning attention, interest, and trust. .
In our drive to succeed, the temptation is always there to cut corners and misrepresent ourselves. Horn begins with her first pitch to her first potential client.
I walked into PeopleSoft’s main conference room armed with a pack of business cards bearing the original name of my future company, Sabrina Horn Public Relations, and a logo that resembled a towel monogram. I had no employees, no customers, and besides the business cards, no proof of a business really.
For anyone who has started their own business, this is an easy to relate scenario. What are you doing? A misrepresentation of the truth comes to mind. to fake.
Honestly, there were times when I was anxious enough to say to myself: Who am I kidding? This is nuts. They don’t take me seriously, so I better come up with something to sell them to me.
But she didn’t. She disarmed her fear with preparation.
When you’re just starting out, it’s tempting and also dangerous to do and be anything to win the business. You need to be optimistic, yet remain grounded in the reality of what your business can realistically do, and then target those customers who want what you have to offer, with relatively little customization.
Horn covers what it means to start a business, the emotional ups and downs, the temptations, the risk, controlling growth and the importance of establishing your values from the start.
Throughout my career, whenever I faced a crisis or felt out of control, I attacked fear, uncertainty and doubt and all the excitement of impostor syndrome by pointing to actual reality. I was looking for information to develop new strategies and options.
As a detective I just had to find it, or put it together. I knew that the answer I needed and the decision I needed to make, however complex and hidden, were within reach. This self-knowledge has saved me countless times over the years.
There is a way to do it right. At the heart of everything you do is integrity. And that includes creating and maintaining an authentic brand. The brand is the responsibility of the founders of the company and represents the why or the reason for being. Horn devotes an excellent chapter to your brand and culture and the challenges involved in protecting and developing it in a changing marketplace.
She says there are two parts to leadership: winning and losing. While we like to focus on the wins, we will lose more often than we would like. No one is immune. And “it’s really hard to act like a leader when you feel like a loser.”
Horn shares a significant failure and necessary post-mortem aftercare. The value of an autopsy “is that it lets you face reality and makes sure you don’t put the blame elsewhere. The truth is that while relationships and stunts matter, intelligence, insight, creativity, passion, and sheer effort can matter more. You lost, not for what? they only did because of what you not done To do.
There are situations where you just can’t win. You can’t fake your age or size or form relationships you don’t have. Stay grounded, align with your core values and mission, and remind your team what you stand for. There is a reason why you and your people work at your company, and why other people don’t. Losing in these situations can be a blessing in disguise.
And then there is winning. If you have a winning streak, know that things can and will change. Start planning for what the future holds. And a crisis inevitably comes out of nowhere. Also, plan for it before it happens.
Make it, don’t pretend is an excellent look at starting and running a business from start to finish with an integrity-at-all-costs perspective – how to make it without faking it.
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