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Episode 12

Just fake it (until you make it)

Wall art person talking

What the…?

fake it?

Am I suggesting you fake your way to your goal? I sure am.

But I’ll let you in a little secret: You are faking your way to believing in yourself. To becoming more confident. And let me tell you… it’s magic! And works like a charm.

Go grab your sneakers and come for a walk with me (or walk indoors, or listen wherever you are. I’m not picky).

We’ll chat about how you can reach your goals easier using a little skill called acting to fake yourself out in a good way.

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

This episode is a coached walk with background WALKING MUSIC to keep you working. If you want the version without music, head over to episode 12B.

There’s a BELL at the halfway point so you can turn around if that suits you.

Photo: Penang, Malaysia

Podcast Transcript

"Sometimes, I wish that I could just be someone else or be like someone else. Maybe someone who has more willpower, someone who has more motivation than me, someone who can get things done."

What do I mean when I say ‘Fake it’? I'm not talking about the bad kind of fake it, like fake it till you feel it, where you don't actually have any skills and you're just faking everything. That's not what we're talking about today. But I'm going to tell you a story first, and this will explain a little bit more about it.

In 2005, I taught my very first spin class and I was terrified. Yeah, I taught aerobics back in the 80s and early 90s, but I hadn't been doing anything for so long. And this was after I lost the weight. I'd only been spinning for a year. And other than that, I had just been running my business and hanging out with the kids. So, I hadn't been around big groups of people for a long time.

I remember how scared I was. Because this was a small spinning studio where I had been spinning alongside these people for a year and they were my friends. They all came to my class. And my first class, of course, was a primetime class which was a little extra terrifying. 

I probably over-prepared because I was so nervous. I created the music. I rode it in my head. I listened to the ride over and over again and envisioned what I would be doing. I'd be sitting here, standing here, warm up, climbing, cool down. And about a week before I taught that first class, I came in when no one was at the gym and I rode probably two or three different times, different days. I rode the ride I was going to do so that I would know this is what the bike feels like, this is where the microphone is, this is the stereo, this is how it all works. Then I would see the room from the vantage point of the instructor. Yet, when the day came to teach that class, I was just so scared. And that's when I faked myself out. 

What I did is I channeled my favorite instructor. Now he, of course, had taught hundreds if not thousands of classes and he was always confident. He could always handle any situation and he could teach spin in his sleep. And he probably did a few times. One time he even forgot his spin shorts. He taught his class in jeans. And I think all of us group exercise instructors have had that kind of a day where we forget something and we just go ahead and teach anyway. I imagined what it felt like to be him. I imagined that I was him. I imagined I had the confidence. I imagined that I had taught hundreds of classes already. And this was just another walk in the park for me. 

So I smiled, I did my ride and I made eye contact. Because I wasn't me. I was him. And I felt much more confident. Even though I knew I was prepared, if in that moment I had just been Helen who had never taught a spin class before, I probably would not have had such a successful class, but because I pretended to be Kirby. Hi Kirby!

It was so much easier then. Yeah, there were a few things that I needed to adjust, like the microphone and things that I learned while on the bike class after class. But it really helped me get through the day to just pretend that I was not me. 

That's what faking it is about. It's about giving yourself confidence. You already have the skill. You already have the know-how, but you don't have the confidence yet. And you're "borrowing" that confidence from someone else. "Excuse me, madame. May I borrow your confidence for a moment?". It's really like acting. "It's called acting." Do you guys remember that from Saturday Night Live? I think it was Jon Lovitz. "Acting. It's called acting."

So, it is acting in a way. You are acting when you put on your game face. If you've done any kind of performance, musical dancing, any kind of sport, baseball, football, swimming, you have to put on your game face, become the athlete that you know you are. But you have to put on that face when you're in the middle of a performance or in the middle of the game.

And that's the same thing as acting. It's just putting on your game face. You put on your game face when you go on a date. You put on your game face when you go for a job interview. You put on a game face when you meet a new client. This is the same thing as putting on your game face-- acting and faking it. All the same. It's like magic. 

Imagine yourself as 'You' that you want to be. That's the secret. Imagine yourself as 'You' that you want to be. Let's take weight loss, for example. Imagine that you're the person who already makes better food choices, who already exercises consistently-- the 'You' that's not afraid to change. You are already this person. You know how to handle it when the holidays come around and you have three Christmas parties. You are already that person. That person already has the answers.

Now, if you don't have all the answers, that's okay. Imagine that person finds someone in your mind that you already know, or even someone that you used to be. And take on their characteristics. What would they say? What would they do? How would they handle this? If you are trying to run a business, find people that are already successful in what you want to do and emulate them. 

Emulate the way they think, the way that their confidence comes across. You can emulate their body language. It's pretty amazing that making little tweaks to your body language actually helps focus your mind and puts you in that space. If you're slumping, your hands are just hanging by your side and you're looking down, you're not going to project confidence. If you're nervous but your chin is up, your shoulders are back, your hands are relaxed, you project confidence and you feel more confidence. Again, it's like that magic. 

I am a shy person usually. I know you wouldn't think so, especially if I'm teaching spin or group exercise. But I don't like to really be out in front of people. So when I have to do public speaking or when I need to be in front of people, I pretend like I'm someone who has no problem with that. Oh my gosh, honey. I have done this 10,000 times and that's how I get through it. That's usually how all of it turns out pretty good.  You don't really feel like it? Well, this other person does. Become that person.

I'm a big fan of sticky notes. I'm a big fan of notebooks. I'm a big fan of writing things down. For example, take whatever it is that your goal is and list some challenges that you know are going to come up along the way. Then answer them from the perspective of 'You', how you normally handle it, because we all got to look at the truth. Then you look at it from the perspective of the other person who you're trying to emulate. How would they handle it? How would they handle this challenge? If you're afraid of calling clients or doing some outreach to get more work, how would this other person handle it? Think of their confidence. Think of the way that they do it. Think of their smile, think of their body language. Write the answers down. So that way, when you come across this problem, you already have the answer. You're already prepared. You know how to do it. 

When you're thinking about being in someone else's shoes, following someone who's already been successful. They've crushed it already. They know how to do it. They have the answer. You're going to find the answers. You're going to write down the answers and when you hit that challenge or the situation where you're not as confident, you're going to already have the answers and you are going to crush it yourself. 

So here's a quick punch list. Emulate a successful role model, whether it's someone that you know or someone you used to be. Because a lot of times, we give up who we used to be and we forget that that personality is inside us. If you need to go back and channel that person, dig in there. Or find someone else who is already successful. Act like you're qualified, even if you don't think you are. You do have to have some basic qualifications, but if there's something that you're missing or if you're not 100% sure of your skills, act like you're qualified. Be confident. You can learn. When you're trying to overcome your fears and you emulate someone, if someone pays you a compliment, accept the compliment. Don't deflect it. Because that helps grow your confidence inside. 

Remind yourself that you probably already have the skills that you need. If you dig deep, you already know how to do this. It's all going to be okay. You're just borrowing someone else's confidence. It's like a library card. Because you don't have to pay for it.

Write down some of the amazing things that you have accomplished that were scary. And maybe think about how you might have channeled someone or something from the past --that you've used that before and you know how to do it already. But remember the things that you've done. You've done so many awesome things. You probably should write down some of the awesome things you've done. Because that way you can remind yourself how great you really are. 

I faked it a lot in my life. I didn't know that I had the skills. I didn't have the confidence. At one point when I was a single mom, the day of the concert I was taking my son to, I got notified that I was getting a photo pass and I was also going to be interviewing the lead singers for one of the bands. And again, I was terrified. I didn't know what to do.

I didn't even have a camera. I know that I can take good pictures. I'm not really good with a DSLR. I don't have a lot of practice with the different shutter speeds and those kinds of things. But I borrowed a camera, went in and took the pictures. And I was terrified. I was scared. I was standing in the photo pit, but I watched the other photographers and I saw what they were doing, where they were standing. I watched them, I emulated them and I became one of them. And that's how I ended up in the photo pit taking pictures of Linkin Park. I borrowed the other photographers' confidence. 

Go find that confidence and go fake it.


Helen is an author, entrepreneur, certified personal trainer, and lifestyle coach. She lost over 80 pounds and kept it off for 16 years. She loves travel, chocolate, and cats.