Some questions are universal. It does not matter if you are a teen or a grandparent. Male or female. Wealthy or low-income. The answers reveal a window into how we show up in the world.
Recently I received one of those questions when I spoke at an extraordinary organization called Year Up. If you don’t know about Year Up, I encourage you to check it out.
Year Up is an intensive yearlong program that provides low-income young adults with training to thrive in professional careers. Students spend six months in class and then the second half of the year in internships at institutions like Citi, American Express and Google. 85% of graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program.
Students learn about how to present themselves in their internship so it becomes a successful stepping stone and that’s what we talked about. I teach many of the same principles that make folks successful in media to help young people go crush it in the workforce.
I talked about being honest about who you are and growing your strengths. I also talked about faking it till you make it. During the Q&A session one of the students asked how she could be honest AND fake it till she made it at the same time.
Great question. I was impressed by her thoughtfulness.
Here’s my answer…
You should not fake who you are. Be honest with yourself and with the world. Work on growing your strengths. Wake up every day ready to learn and do what it takes to get the job done.
That’s part of the equation.
The other part of the equation is stretching yourself and that’s where faking confidence to do what you want to do comes into play. We are all scared sometimes. It’s normal to question if you are good enough. The key is in having faith in yourself and your preparationand pushing forward despite your doubts. When you appear confident, people around you are more likely to feel confident in you.
This equation works whether you are embarking on a career like the Year Up students or you are already highly accomplished. There is always a next level to conquer.
How can you execute this equation like the champ you are?
Think about a goal that scares you. It may be going on TV to promote your company. I’ve said over and over again that nerves are normal before a TV appearance. And the students at Year Up told me that they were very nervous before they started their program. They did it anyway. Maybe your goal is speaking on stage or going after a big client.
Find the balance between stretching and preparation. Ask yourself if you are realistically prepared to go after this goal. For instance, a kindergartener is not going to be President of the United States tomorrow. Ask yourself if it is simply your insecurities that are holding you back.
Go for it. If you are just being held back by insecurity, summon the courage to perform at a higher level. Envision yourself already there and act as if you are, all from a place of authenticity.
Will you fail? Perhaps. But the real failure is in not trying. Sometimes we all need to force ourselves to become what is possible.
Here’s to showing up as the very best version of ourselves!
I felt a lot of courage in the room at Year Up. I look forward to seeing yours and watching you soar.
If you found this blog helpful, please email it to a friend or share it on Facebook and Twitter. Please tell me about when you have had to push yourself to become who you are in the comments below. I look forward to reading what you share!