So there you are…..
……discussing the company's future with your boss.
And in his view you're not qualified for the new position that opened up.
Passed over for promotion – again.
You're sitting in front of your bank manager.
You have a great idea, did the market research, and know you can get this business off the ground.
Yet in his view, you have no experience and the risk is too high.
He turns down your business loan – again.
It makes no sense:
– You work like a madman.
– You network.
– You did the research.
It should have worked.
Why didn't it work?!
You might even start to think, “Maybe I should fake it till I make it – isn't that what the gurus say?”
Today I'm going to be answering the question:
“Should I fake it till I make it, or should I just be myself?”
Here is the question I received that prompted this video & article:
“Antonio, you know how when we talk to a girl or stranger or meet up with a client we're told to be yourself.
Do you really think that rule should apply for everyone?
I feel most people don't get too far in life because they follow this rule. In their minds they see themselves as a normal person, but in reality it's the opposite. They come across as rude, hostile or just plain weird.
When I was in high school, I really didn't have too many friends. I thought it was people just didn't like me because I wasn't cool.
When I got to college I began to rethink my whole attitude and style. I watched the cool and started to act cool, but I really wasn't.
Now my question is, Antonio, do you fake it till you make it and act like somebody else, or do you just be yourself? “
The answer is you don't just be yourself……
You BUILD YOURSELF into the man you know yourself to be.
You don't fake it till you make it……
You find what skills you have and leverage them to create and build others.
The whole concept of “Fake it till you make it” is inherently dishonest and makes you sound like a fraud.
“Being yourself” is almost as bad.
Not because there is anything wrong with the idea, but because most people just use it as an excuse to be lazy.
OK – so let me explain all of this in more detail.
“Fake It Till You Make It”
Mostly I don't like this saying because I believe anybody can become a success if they put their mind to it, don't accept excuses and are willing to narrow the field.
Find & Develop Your Niche Expertise
What I mean by this is that you need to focus our efforts.
When I started my first business, A Tailored Suit, I focused in on men's custom clothing and that's what I became an expert on. I didn't go into white-tie, black-tie, custom shoes or casual style. I stayed very narrowly focused on men's custom clothing.
Read Books on Your New Area Of Expertise
To become an expert I read a number of books on the subject and this is the one thing that anyone can do.
By reading a well-recognized book on the subject you're going to know more than 95% of the world. After you've read 3 good books you're going to become an expert on that subject.
The actual effort and time it takes to read those books is nothing compared to the knowledge you'll gain from them. By reading good books on a subject you're leveraging the knowledge of people who are already recognized experts on that subject.
So there's no need for you to fake it. By putting in some time and effort you can become a bona fide narrow subject expert.
Become an Expert and Expand
There's no need for you to stop there. From this expertise you can build strength and expand.
That's exactly what I did with A Tailored Suit: I went out and I studied under some of the best tailors in the industry. I did have to spend money to do this, but it was a worthwhile investment.
I say I studied style in London, Hong Kong and Bangkok but what I mean by that is that I went over and I got to know these tailors and I spent time learning from them. I paid them money just for the chance to observe them and ask them a heck of a lot of questions.
Some of them I didn't even have to pay money: I just asked them a heck of a lot of questions. I did have some suits made, took them home and went back and tore them apart. That was my education. In a period of a few months I focused on my niche, after which I found that I knew more about custom clothing than anyone else I knew.
A great example is my friend Rishi from The Dark Knot. I was talking to him on Skype one day and I told him:
“Richie, you know all this information about neckties”
“Well, you need to be putting this out there.”
Here's a guy that got into the business with no background. What he did was to study about his niche and then he went very narrow: High quality men's neckties.
Not low-end quality, bow-ties, ascots or shoes. Only high-quality neckties. By staying narrowly focused he was able to build and really focus in on that.
You can do that with any subject and expand from there.
Once you've established yourself as a narrow field expert, you can capitalize on what's called the “Halo Effect”. This refers to the unconscious perception people have that if you're expert on one subject, people will assume you know about related topics. This makes it easier for you to branch out into related areas.
This is exactly what I did: After establishing myself as an expert in men's custom clothing through A Tailored Suit, I expanded my expertise into men's style and founded Real Men Real Style. Not only was I now credible because of my knowledge of men's custom clothing, I also had a dedicated following from A Tailored Suit.
So don't fake it till you make it: Find your niche, focus on it and become a narrow field expert and after that you can branch out into similar fields.
Misconceptions About Being Yourself
Let’s go over them and I'll identify why you should avoid adopting these philosophies.
“Just Be Yourself”
Should you be yourself? Of course you should but you can't be yourself if you haven't established who you are or what you want to do.
That's the problem with this saying: People who have no idea who they are use it as an excuse to be just like everyone around them. They use it as an excuse to not better themselves because they're told they're fine just the way they are.
I had a friend and from Colorado. It was him, his fiancé and myself and we were going into downtown Wausau. I was wearing a nice casual shirt with a pair of nice dress pants. I was probably going to be one of the best-dressed guys at the square we were going to.
So he asks me: “Hey, are you going to wear that?”
He was wearing running shoes, cargo shorts, a t-shirt and a baseball cap.
“This is what I'm going to wear”
“That is totally fine, but I bet more than half the men there will be dressed just like you.”
He replied that he was being himself but actually he was just going with what was currently in fashion. He didn't want to have to think about it because he could just do what everyone else was going to do.
Although he has spent a lot of time thinking about who he is, he hasn't really thought about his style much. Sure enough, when we got there more than half the people at the square in Wausau were dressed just like him for the summer concert.
To me it goes to show we aren't being ourselves when we think we are. We're actually just being lazy.
To be yourself you have to figure out who you are and what you stand for and this is hard. Through the centuries a lot of people, especially philosophers, have thought about and talked about it a lot. The truth is that figuring this out for yourself can take a lifetime.
But it's about the journey, not about the destination (great Aerosmith quote)
Basically you don't find yourself, you have to build yourself. This is something that I've discovered through experience: I have confidence in myself and I know who I am, because of my past, where I've come from and what I've done in my life.
Think critically (and take notes)
To discover who you are you're going to have to start thinking for yourself. And not just any thinking: You have to start thinking critically. A great way to help you do this is to take notes about the things you hear about or read.
A lot of us take notes in our smart phones, but I'm a big fan of just writing it down on paper and transferring it over at a later stage. It's just too easy to get distracted while taking notes on your smart phone or computer.
An excellent way to start thinking critically is to read really solid, critically classic books. There are tons out there: The Art of Manliness has a great list of books all men should read.
You can't just read them like light fiction either – Sir Francis Bacon put it well:
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
So read through these books, take notes and force yourself to ask the hard questions. Ask “why” 5 times to get to the root of a question or issue. This is a concept from The Toyota Way, which is a system developed by Toyota to discover the root of any production or manufacturing problem. This is not only good for troubleshooting your car – you can apply it to learning to thin k critically.
So really ask why you're doing something. By doing this you may discover important insights into who you are as a person.
So to summarize:
Being yourself is not relevant because most people don't even know who they are.
You shouldn't and don't have to “Fake it till you make it” because you can narrow down and become a subject expert very quickly and very easily by staying focused.
Remember that men who follow the less traveled path tend to reap the greatest rewards.