A very dear and trusted mentor texted me one weekend to share information that might be helpful in my professional growth. Her enthusiasm was encouraging and I was excited to meet with her. When we met first thing the following Monday morning, she shared a TEDGlobal talk by Social Psychologist, Amy J.C. Cuddy, AssociateProfessor of Business Administration at Harvard. Professor Cuddy examines the influence of body language on messaging. It is important to consider not only our message but also how it is delivered. Cuddy states that, “our nonverbals govern how others think and feel about us.” What struck me most about this talk didn’t have anything to do with body language. Instead, it was the message that Cuddy received from her mentor which was to encourage others to persevere when they have just about given up because of self-doubt:
"You are not quitting, because I took a gamble on you, and you're staying. You're going to stay, and this is what you're going to do. You are going to fake it. You're going to do every talk that you ever get asked to do. You're just going to do it and do it and do it, even if you're terrified and just paralyzed and having an out-of-body experience, until you have this moment where you say, 'Oh my gosh, I'm doing it. Like, I have become this. I am actually doing this.'" So that's what I did.
Cuddy then pays this message forward to a student in her own class years later. Not only does she deliver the message “fake it until you make it,” she goes one step further: “fake it until you become it.”
Mentors have the power to influence the professional and personal growth of others. I have made a point of reaching out to others, to share this video, and to deliver the message of fake it until you become it. At one point or another some of us might feel a disconnect between the person who we perceive we are from the person we wish to become. I am not certain that we ever fully arrive at this self-actualized destination. Besides, the journey is perhaps the most rewarding, challenging, and exhilarating aspect of actually “becoming it. “
One measure of a leader’s success is to cultivate other leaders. Teachers have the same power as they inspire their students. As we move to cultivate the strengths of others, sharing the message, “fake it until you become it” just might be transformative in the life of someone who could use one more person in the cheering section.