Because it will burn you out. I’ve been there. I have heard from many people who have been there.
Quietly Powerful Women has now reached over 400 women and it seems that the ‘exhaustion from faking’ is one of the biggest challenges. Many of these women are successful. And many feel exhausted and don’t feel they appreciate and leverage their natural qualities enough.
This is because we have collectively held a particular image of good leadership for so long – generally extrovert and masculine (see Bias towards style over substance is keeping your real talent hidden). Women keep getting told to ‘be more confident’ (see Advancing women in Australia: eliminating bias in feedback and promotions by Chief Executive Women and Bain & Co.) 92% of 140 respondents to the QPW survey stated that they feel they have to be extroverted to progress in their careers.
“Fake it till you make it” has been a mantra for women for some time. It has caused some women to succeed by putting on the masculine, dominant and extrovert style. At times it has resulted in successful women being so competitive that they push ahead at the expense of others (often other women). You may meet them in a non-work context and find that they are completely different.
So what does it take to stop faking till you make it?
We need to distinguish the difference between faking and growing.
You’re faking if you’re doing something that someone else told you to do and you don’t really want to. You feel like you’re putting it on, even after a while. It may also feel like you’re replacing or fixing a quality you have. Faking is acting out of fear.
You’re growing if you doing something outside your comfort zone because you want to, you’re doing it for a purpose. Growing is acting out of love and passion. It may feel awkward for a while but over time it becomes part of you. You’re also growing effectively if you’re adding learned skills and behaviours on top of a solid foundation of self appreciation.
So here are four things you can do to stop faking:
- Walk your path. Find what lights you up, where possible, something bigger than yourself. When you are on a mission, you WANT to grow and you will integrate what you learn. When you integrate, it’s not faking.
- Appreciate yourself fully. Invest in understanding yourself more, amplify your strengths and challenge your beliefs about what you or others perceive to be your ‘weaknesses’. Weaknesses redirected can be your biggest strengths.
- Stop trying to fix yourself. When you are growing, you are simply adding skills and behaviours to expand your repertoire, not replacing them with what you have. Remember to leverage what you already have.
- Give yourself permission to re-energise in your own way. Become more aware of what gives you energy and what doesn’t, honour your own rhythms and unique ways to re-energise.
It is also time we upgraded our beliefs about what good leadership looks like and value the introvert and feminine qualities and stop feeling we have to fake it so much.