Who fancies faking it? I know from many years experience with my workshop participants that this is rarely a popular invitation.

So why might we need to “fake it”?

At many times in my career I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone into new roles with new responsibilities and I’ve needed to grow and quickly!

Growing quickly usually means expanding my comfort zone, often essential on a professional development path but by definition, being outside my comfort zone – it didn’t feel good.

I also struggled with the concept of authenticity – was I trying to be someone that I wasn’t. Was I pretending to be or to know or have some degree of competence that was beyond me? Would it have been more honest to confess that I felt out of my depth and was hanging in there by the skin of my teeth?!

As I stepped up to positions of leadership, managing projects, managing teams, would it be better to tell my manager that I sometimes wondered whether I was up to the job?

Honestly, I think they are also quite normal during the process of learning a new skill or behaviour.

I’ve come to realise now that creating a learning zone – that space beyond the outer edge of my comfort zone – will feel, well, uncomfortable . This is not a bad thing either but it does take some getting my head around.

While I might feel incompetent, the truth is that I’ve prepared as well as I know how but, to use an analogy, the only way to learn to swim is to get in the water before you know you can swim. You do the preparation but the only way to finally know you have the skill is to jump in and do it. And sometimes the next stage is a little messy!

That stepping out of my comfort zone and into a learning zone isn’t really about faking it. It’s not about being inauthentic.

Stepping into that learning zone is one of the most courageous acts I can take. It feels uncomfortable and, in the past, I was afraid I was faking it.

I now prefer to see myself choosing to model behaviours I wish to learn. I’ve done what I can to prepare and the way to close the gap between knowledge in my head and skills in my behaviour is to do it, to step out, bravely and act as if… until I know for certain what I do and what I don’t know.

Doing that which I am uncertain about isn’t faking it – no. Getting feedback on where I still have space to grow – absolutely.

And now I expect that to feel uncomfortable but I have a choice on how to frame even that feeling.

Fritz Perls, the founder of gestalt therapy said “Fear is excitement without the breath”… so I can choose to hold my breath and wait in fear. Or to feel the feeling and breathe deeply into it, getting more excited about what I can learn that will make me a better leader, manager, coach, teacher…

Here’s to learning!

What do you think? Do let me know.


PS: If you’d like to learn how to get control of your workload and avoid overwhelm, take a look at my “Out of Overwhelm Route Map”. I’d love to help and to have your feedback on this new creation! Click below to find out more:

I’d love to overcome overwhelm!