IN THE 1960s, Paul Simon wrote a song entitled Fakin’ It. Here’s the second verse:
I’m such a dubious soul,
And a walk in the garden
Wears me down.
Tangled in the fallen vines,
Pickin’ up the punch lines,
I’ve just been fakin’ it,
Not really makin’ it.
This really speaks to the imposter syndrome which strikes a great many business leaders.
The truth is that we all feel weak and unsettled inside. We all feel like we’re fakin’ it.
At the root of this is fear. But notice that courage isn’t the absence of fear.
Courage is having fear but moving ahead anyway.
This is why it’s important to distinguish between courage and confidence. The two are related, but not the same.
When you start out on something new, you first experience fear. That’s a good and useful emotion, but rarely does it signal real danger. Usually it’s just a trigger calling you to “pay attention!”
Now leadership kicks in. You have the choice to react to that fear with fight, flight, or courage. When you choose courage, you’re saying that you trust yourself enough to learn as you go along. And that you have enough resources to address any adversities which arise.
But rarely is that confidence at this point. Instead, you feel like you’re faking it by displaying confidence when you really don’t have it inside.
And that’s OK. This is what humans do.
But your objective will then be, as things work out, you move to a point of confidence. Then you won’t need so much courage, because you’ve established the successful path you can repeat as needed.
And then you move on to the next challenge. This is what leaders do. Recognize the fear. Have courage, and be OK with faking it. And then move to confidence.
You’ve been doing this your entire life, right?