In an online forum this week of beginning entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals, someone asked about the concept of faking it until you make it. For her, this feels too much like lying. I too am against the idea of "faking it." No one would fault us for putting our best public foot forward to make a good impression. Building a professional website, storefront, voice mail system or virtual office is not faking. Not much different than putting on our best attire for a big meeting. Claiming to have 50,000 customers when you have only 2 is flat out lying, not just faking. Instead of trying so hard to "fake,” we must learn to "be." A person reaches this state when, regardless of current circumstances, they retain a high level of self esteem and know they are more than current circumstances. No need to get esoteric or philosophical. Instead, let us study a real life example of what it means to "be."
Muhammad Ali's defeat of Sonny Liston was considered one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. Few observers, experts and lay people alike, gave Ali much of a chance. Yet, Ali insisted he was the best and predicted he would defeat Sonny Liston handily. Not until Ali beat Liston twice did commentators give him his due credit. Ali went from being a loud mouth, over confident braggart to being the best professional boxer in the world. However, nothing had changed in his mind. He was always the best, long before he fought Liston and even before he entered the pros. Ali had mastered the art of being.
To "be" is to believe with certainty that you are what you claim even if the world does not. Some will say, "but wait, isn't this delusion?" To this I say, not if you have the goods to back it up. Is there any doubt now that Ali had the goods?
"Being" is important for those times in life when all indicators point to one being a failure. For those who master the art of being, outcomes do not determine their self worth. Outcomes are merely the result of actions and decisions--sometimes goods, sometimes not.
Was Ali a failure when he lost to Joe Frazier? Nope. He was a legendary champion who had a bad night. The same Ali who lost to Frazier the first time is the same Ali who later defeated him...twice.
To "be " is to understand your true self at the core, which comes across in conversations and negotiations. A person is most comfortable and relaxed in this state of mind, for no one has to pretend to be themselves. In contrast, faking requires lots of energy because to keep up such charades takes lots of effort, both physical and mental. Will Smith does a nice job in this video explaining the importance of making the decision to "be."
The Source of Being
In hindsight, when we look at legends like Muhammad Ali, we wonder how anyone could have ever thought of him as anything other than what we know him as today. We need to remember however the source of his sense of being. Few would argue that people like Ali are somewhat freaks of nature, given phenomenal gifts at birth that when coupled with practice and discipline almost guarantee success. However, the key ingredients are the practice and discipline, not the gift itself. Ali's sense of being came from knowing that which the rest of the world did not. Along with his talent were the hours of grueling, disciplined practice in pursuit of perfection. While the rest of the world busied itself with idle entertainment and time killing endeavors, he prepared his body, mind and spirit and made the most of his God given talents. By the time the world heard of young Cassius Clay winning the gold medal in the Olympics, faking was not necessary.
So, do not waste your time perfecting your ability to put on a front. Instead, dig deep to discover what makes you unique and special--the odd gift that makes you a freak of nature. Then decide to "be" the best through disciplined, consistent practice. While the rest of the world busies itself with idle endeavors, faking and imitating others, spend your time perfecting your own art of being. And if you truly are pretending to be something you are not, perhaps you should just stop doing that.
Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.