Fake it til you make it

15 June 2022 Martin Cheetham

If NASA had only interviewed astronauts with moon-walking experience, Neil Armstrong would’ve stayed at home (along with every other candidate).
If we only relied on what we know and what we’ve done successfully in the past, there would be zero innovation. And we absolutely would’ve missed out on sliced bread;)

Think of any innovation since the dawn of man. It all started with a venture into the unknown. One giant leap into the great abyss of uncertainty.


Walk the talk

“Fake it til you make it.” I’ve heard this many times, and this phrase is often met with cynicism and criticism but I think it’s how we live most of our lives.

When you apply for that role or start a business that’s gonna push you right out of your comfort zone, there’s a lot of uncertainty and doubt that you can even pull this off. So you start. And you push. You fuck up. You learn. And you grow. Suddenly it’s easier and you know you’ve got this. What have you done? See the title of this article!

It’s all about taking the risks, trying new things, and pushing out of that comfort zone we all love so much. It’s so warm and snuggly in there (hence the name), but it’s the death of innovation.

The idea is to start behaving in a way that is congruent with our future, desired state. Emulating people or organisations that are already there, and building habits that will take us there.


Dinosaurs will die

One of the most dangerous phrases I’ve ever heard is “That’s the way we’ve always done it”. This is exactly how industries get disrupted and businesses cease to exist. Look at some of the biggest companies in the wolrd that simply do not exist today: Nokia, Kodak, Blockbuster – the list goes on and on. As I’m writing this, Internet Explorer is being retired. This was the biggest search engine on the planet at one point.

Every company that Elon Musk starts is venturing into uncharted territory. ‘Fake it til you make it’ is built into their DNA. They don’t have certainty that they will succeed, but they’re willing to try.

There are only two possible outcomes of innovation: Success and learning. Failure only exists if you don’t learn from it.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison learned many times while trying to invent the ideal lightbulb. If he had stopped learning then he would have failed.

Some of the core principles of Design Thinking are embracing ambiguity, learning from failure, and iteration. Failing fast and often to learn and arrive at the best solution quickly. It is a methodology designed for innovation. If you’re not already using it in your business and your life, try it. Start small and learn. Don’t go the way of the dinosaurs…

Be brave. Take that small step. Fake it. You will make it.