Stop faking it

A few days ago I watched a youtube video of someone playing a song on the piano. She was one of the 200 participants in the 30 Day Challenge and she had responded to one of our exercises by taking the risk to record a video of her playing and show it to the other participants (who were all complete strangers until just a few weeks before).

She started by looking nervously into the camera and doing what we usually do before daring to share something very personal: she apologised for it. She spoke quietly and shyly, saying that she hadn’t warmed up and the piano might be out of tune and that she wasn’t sure it would work.

And then she started playing. And it was wonderful. She sang powerfully and beautifully and played confidently. Her posture and demeanour changed, she was no longer shy. She came alive. She shone.

This is what happens when we dare to share something from our heart. It’s scary, we want to protect ourselves, but when we finally do it, we shine.

Having watched her apologetic intro to the video I wanted to shout out, “Oh stop faking it! We can all see how amazing you are!”

And it made me realise that most of us are faking it. I know I still do at times. We worry so much about overstating our talents (in case we get shot down) we do the opposite.

“Oh it’s nothing”

“This thing? It’s only half finished and the chorus is totally wrong”

“It’s nowhere near as good as [insert world leader in your field]”

“What’s the point of starting my own blog when there are so many out there already?”

We end up faking it as a nobody.

We’re pretending there’s nothing amazing about us; we don’t have anything important or unique to give to the world.

But there is, and we do.

We may feel a long way from the recognised super-talents – the Richard Bransons, Steve Jobs or JK Rowlings of this world but we all have ‘spots of genius’ – those areas where we shine.

I realised right at the end that The 30 Day Challenge (and much of my work) is really about each of us finding these spots of genius, mining them to create something of our own, and daring to share it with the world.

The world would be a lot better place if we all stopped faking it long enough to do the same.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • I agree! This line is especially powerful: 

    “We end up faking it as a nobody. We’re pretending there’s nothing amazing about us; we don’t have anything important or unique to give to the world.But there is, and we do.”
    Makes me think, the worst part is faking it to ourselves – if you don’t believe in your own fabulousness, who will? Thanks for a great post 🙂

  • Mhairi Cameron

    Really loving the idea of ‘spots of genius” My project is about helping leaders identify these spots of genius in others and enable them to be brought to the work so people can perform to their true potential and have the requisite accountability. Your post completes a circle for me because if we continue to fake it, then how will anyone spot our genius and believe in our true potential. I am reminded of the equation I think Tim Gallwey (The inner game of tennis) created. Performance= potential minus interference. Sometimes our own interference gets in the way, sometimes its others!

  • Thanks Mhairi. Nice reminder of the Inner Game equation – had forgotten that.

  • Vinilla

    John this makes me think of Martha Graham’s quote which struck a cord when I read it . . Vin
    “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others” 
    ― Martha Graham

  • That’s a fabulous one Vinilla! I would disagree there is never satisfaction. I think it comes in waves – dissatisfaction alternates with pleasure in the doing and moments of being able to appreciate what you’ve done

  • Yelverton2009

    John, I liked this story about the girl playing the piano in the video.  Music is so close to my heart and it’s something I aspire to get involved with, hopefully in the very near future.  I’m a guitar player myself so I can relate to how she feels!  I’d love to go to a Scanners night the next time I’m visiting London.  I live in the Big Apple.  I wish there was a L train that would go directly from New York to London!  Wow!  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Then I’d be going back and forth all the time!  Thanks for the encouragement!  I’ve been reading the book very slowly and taking my time with it.  It has inspired me to pursue some ideas that I’ve put in the back burner for so long.   I’m hoping that it will help me to follow through and do something that I am passionate about and make a more than decent living from it.  No 9 to 5 for me!

  • That’s great! Maybe we’ll bring Scanners Night to New York at some point…

  • John,
    I watched her blossom, bloom and sparkle.  She has nothing to be sorry for or ashamed of.
    To an outside observer the excuses we make (we all do it) may seem fake; because we are not emotionally involved with the performer’s inner struggles and inner image.  We only hear the excuses and then witness amazing events unfold, so it seems fake.
    However we must realize that the emotion and fear that resulted in the pre performance action, is very real to to the performer.
    The issue, I believe, is that she faced her fear and did it anyway!  That to me is the part that raises the hairs on the back of my neck.  Time and repetitive action will strengthen her sense of heroism, bravery and her awareness of self worth.  Then maybe admitting it to others will become more forthright.
    The remarkable thing is that she allowed us to witness her fear and her stepping through and beyond it.  I will remember this experience for a very long time.
    I believe that each person’s mission is to learn their inherent value in life, the world and the universe.  In so doing, we should seek to realize the same value of each and every person and learn how in our own unique way, we can help others fulfill their quest.

  • Spiceislechild

    The most wonderful thing for me about the 30dc was the daily bloggs – the challenge that we change our perspective. For me there was nothing more motivational. I appreciate your taking the time to publish outside the progrmame because your message has a deep resonance that I totally identify with. And, I say this after a most difficult day. Thank you.

  • Hi John, I watched that video too and she is amazing! And had to remind myself that we all are when we ‘play our own music’. The 30 day challenge was fabulous – as I write I have the Connie’s art videos playing beside me – she’s a gem. See you back in the grad program. 
    Bev R

  • Malgorzata Piatkowska

    I was brought up this way, in fact. Where I come from, not slugging oneself all the time is seen as something bad and once you start saying that you are awesome, someone will drag you down immediately, trying to ridicule you by comparing to world recognized talents. True, world would be better if we “stopped faking”, but it would also be better if hatred and jalousie disappeared, which is not going to happen, so people are “faking it” to protect themselves.

  • Sally Milligan

    I don’t think it is faking it. I don’t think we’re always aware of which of the things that we do are our ‘spots of genius’ until we get feedback on them, which was one of the great things about the 30 day challenge – getting feedback when we tried different things.


    ENOUGH PLATITUDES ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!