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No more faking it

Feb 18, 2020

Forget “fake it til you make it”. The new currency of trust is authenticity.

 

  

I can’t believe how many business coaches there are in the fitness industry. I’ve been working as a trainer for nearly 13 years and I run a better-than-average business, but I don’t feel nearly as confident as the crop of 20-year-olds looking to sell me business advice.

It seems the cult of Gary Vee has spread to the point where cocksure kids are leaping with both feet and a belly full of bravado into an area they know nothing about. I’m all for chasing your dreams and getting after it. In fact, one of my regrets is not being proactive enough earlier in my career. But let me give you some advice of my own: fake confidence, fake success, fake ability are all easy to smell.

Social media and the endless escalation of targeted advertising has made people distrustful in the marketplace, and rightly so. In this environment, authenticity cuts through. I can’t tell you how many people engage with me online because I don’t bullshit them – and it makes sense! Who the hell would want a coach who lies to them?

Instead, they respect my flaws. Even when I put them up on stage.

That doesn’t mean I’m committed to mediocrity; I take the attitude that everything we do in life is a trainable skill. I view esoteric concepts like happiness and confidence as a skill to be practised, honed and worked on. Likewise, productivity is a skill. So are the mechanics of health and fitness: tracking and preparing food, exercising in the gym, getting into a good bedtime routine and so on.

This attitude has some unique benefits that pretending does not.

First, it implies you’re not automatically good at something (yet). It means you have to work on it, but that you will get better the more you do it.

Second, it’s a given that you’ll make mistakes. That’s fundamentally how learning works, through a process of refinement over time. This takes the pressure off of being perfect.

It also implies incremental improvement. Once you wrap your head around the idea of a longer, slower (but ultimately more rewarding) process, the day-to-day requirements become much easier to engage with. It becomes about the process rather than the destination. I speak a lot about process-orientation over outcome-orientation, and in my opinion, this is the secret to life satisfaction.

“Fake it til you make it” gives no space for these ideas. It implies being something you’re not in the hope that you’ll suddenly gain its power, like some bizarre immaculate conception that you can wave around as a talisman of ostensible success.

It doesn’t allow the shades of grey between imperfect and perfect – either you are what you want to be, or you’re not. There’s no journey, struggle or progress to be made in this kind of paradigm.

So let’s kick faking it to the curb, and instead embrace the “practice until you embody it” mentality. It’s not nearly as catchy, but at least it will get you somewhere. And in the meantime, you can be open about your flaws. You can be relatable. You can be authentic - and you can also improve.

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