Faking It

“Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.”

Werner Herzog

Faking it until you make it is a mixed bag. On one hand, it gives you the confidence you need to go after something you want. On the other hand, it sets you up for potential failure. I think the people you hear about that became a success from faking it was just super lucky. It’s more likely to get caught being a fake than it is faking it successfully.

You see this across all areas of life and business, but I see it the most in creative or entrepreneurial settings.

Although it might sound great to put photography or product design on your portfolio, just because you can take a couple of good phone photos doesn’t make you a great photographer. I know this because I have a lot of friends who are photographers for a living and their work is incredible compared to an amateur photographer like me. I’ve read a book on photography and I know more than the average schmoseph, but even then I would be faking it if I put a photographer on my website or bios.

Professionals don’t fake it. Professionals don’t have to fake it. They develop the skillsets and learn the tools and then do it. And do it well.

You could argue that ‘faking it’ shows up the most in entrepreneurship.

Business has always been a little about magic. I trade you this paper thing (digital numbers nowadays) for your product or service thing. You use that paper thing to make your product thing better through hard work and then try to sell more of them to more and more people over time. Most products and services are works in progress. Ideally, it’s great now. And if the company continues to perform well, it will get even better.

Most startups are a mash of duck-taped products, shoe-string budget, ego, and underpaid workers, but they look amazing because they have a clean website and their social media is fire.

It takes a massive amount of confidence and faith to build a company. I think where faking it gets you in trouble in business is when you try to sell a product or service that isn’t good or isn’t as good as your selling it to be. That goes for customers, employees and investors alike. If your product isn’t good yet, people are going to notice, aka not buy it. And if they do buy it, but you don’t deliver, they sure as heck won’t buy from you again (and they’ll likely tell all their friends not to buy from you either). Instead, tt’s better to build your company on the foundation of a great product or service people need.

Faking it Pros:

  • Gives you the confidence to start.
  • Can develop your skills fasters.
  • Moves your career, or business forward.

…If it works.

Faking it Cons:

  • It can backfire instantly if your skills/products/services don’t match your confidence.
  • You’re essentially lying about what you can do.
  • Anyone who does the skill your faking will instantly be able to notice that you can’t.
  • Real social and career consequences if you get caught.

We all have to start somewhere, which means we have a vision and dream of who we want to be in our heads. The question is how to get there and make it a reality. Faking it could work, but it’s also inauthentic. In today’s instantly connected, open world, people can smell inauthenticity a world away. Leaning into faking it isn’t the answer. If you do, do it at your own peril.

Get good first.

It’s better to be a work in progress than being shot down in flames. Learn what you need. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things. Share what you are learning. Let your work build little by little. If you need to instantly be a professional you’ve already lost. Don’t just say it — do it. Cultivate your skills every day and let your work speak for itself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #848

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Creativity & Ambition

Whenever I go to a concert or festival, I can’t help but feel that I’m on the wrong side of the stage. If you see me there, I’m the weird guy (no, not that weird guy, he’s on another level) who occasionally becomes very still and stops bobbing and dancing. It’s likely because I’m watching what the guitarist or keyboardist hands are doing. I’m picking apart the drums and synths. I’m admiring the singer’s vocal palette and the band’s synchronicity. I’m still enjoying the show, but I’m enjoying it in a different way through an artist’s perspective. If you play an instrument, you’ll likely be able to relate.

I feel the same way when seeing superb broadway or watch a film, or admire good art or outfit, or underline a great word or turn of phrase in a book. I enjoy creativity at a deep level and want to go deeper still. I can see a fuzzy outline of tendrils where different creative and mental outlets weave and interconnect. It’s like discovering a language you aren’t familiar with but have moments of clarity when words of striking similarity to your native tongue pop out and identify themselves to you.

If there’s a Grand Unified Theory of the Universe, surely there’s also a Grand Unified Theory of Creativity.

(Yeah Josh, It’s called Math 🤓 you dumb dumb.)

But what makes someone creative?

Is it a feeling? Is it in our DNA? Is it the act of creating?

What separates those that do versus those that don’t? What’s the difference between a musician who makes it to the stage and a musician who creates at home?

Not that being on a stage is everything. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with only enjoying your art alone. But there is a certain special something — certain gumption — I admire for the creatives and dreamers who put themselves out there. No, I don’t mean starting an Instagram account and slapping a logo together in Canva.

I’m talking about the folks you put in the work. The ones that get down to brass tax and put in the time and effort to pursue their creativity. The ones who go out and build a business around a product or service that means something to them and provides meaning to others. The dancers, writers, poets, bodybuilders, athletes or designers who wake up early and begin their practice.

The word Ambition comes to mind. As does belief. You have to believe in yourself, at least enough to have the courage to try and the courage to breathe out the fear and walk out on the ‘stage’.

And the antithetical ego comes to mind as well. All artists who put themselves out there in some way shape or form think they are unique and have something to offer the world. Including myself! What kind of ego do you need to have a daily blogging practice as well as another dozen practices? (A BIG kahuna.)

But at the same time, at its core, creativity has to come from a place of love. Or at least a desire to be better, to do better. I would continue to play music even if I didn’t make a dime on it. I’d continue to write and practice the craft of writing because I love it for what it is and what it gives me. An outlet. A brush to paint with. A song to sing. A beat to dance. A comic to doodle.

Not because I can create, but because I can’t not do it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #825

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Related:

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

Oscar Wilde

“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius

Stop Waiting

“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”

Buddha

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

Pablo Picasso

There’s mean reasons why you should wait on your idea (business, passion, dream, etc). It might not work. You may need more skills and experience to do it. You need to get your money right first. All these reasons are likely true.

But I would argue the reasons you shouldn’t wait far outweigh anything that’s stopping you. What if you go your entire life without doing the things you feel called to do?

It might not work — but who cares? What if it does? What if it doesn’t and it actually leads you to something better than you were originally aiming for? The future is far from assured. Now might be the only time you’ve got.

Skills come from experience. Skills come from doing. In order to create the skills you need to do the things you want to do, you have to first do the things you want to do in order to cultivate the skills you need. That sounds more complicated than it is. All you’ve got to do is just try. Experience and skill will grow as you do.

Money is not an either or option. You don’t have to choose your passion over money — you can choose both. Work on your idea on the side. Go part-time and work on it on the weekend. Take the time you have, and figure out how you can optimally squeeze out more quality in your hours.

Stop waiting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #729


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When to Give Up and When to Keep Going

As much as you want something to work, you’ve got to ask yourself,

Is this right for me?
Is this right for my customers?
Do I even know who my customers are or what they want?

It’s hard to sell popcorn to an empty theater.

Sometimes we grow out of our work. Just because you’ve done something for years doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it for the rest of your life. If your answer to ‘Is this right for me?’ is no, then it’s time to take a step towards change. 

A ‘business plan’ looks good on paper, but in actuality, business doesn’t typically don’t work out so neatly. If the work is right for you, but the strategy doesn’t fly, then it’s time for a new strategy. The most successful people out there in the world learned how to constantly iterate their approach based on real-time feedback of what’s working or not, and continuously pursue their craft until they found a strategy that worked.

Give up easily, when it’s not right for you. Never give up when you haven’t found a to make what you love work yet. Develop the self-awareness to know the difference between the two for yourself.

These are the characteristics of champions.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” — Jack Ma

“Never give up, and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” — Marta

“Do not let the roles you play in life make you forget who you are.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Staying Sharp

Look at any entrepreneurial or creative venture, and you’ll see that it was built on the backs of very sleepy people.

I­t­ seems like sleep deprivation is a badge of honor nowadays. Does creating success mean we need to have unhealthy habits to make I­t­ happen?

What about anger? Pain, injury, heartache, negative bank accounts, fear, frustration…

Are the emotions and setbacks that make us sharp necessary to be successful?

In her excellent book, The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington implores us to take back our lives and sanity by loving sleep again. Working on Huffington Post, Arianna literally stumbled upon our culture’s sleep deprivation problems when she collapsed and blacked out on the floor after consecutively pushing past her body and mind telling her to sleep.

I 100% agree with Arianna’s assessment:  sleep makes us better at what we do, not worse.
However, at the same time, I️ wonder, would I­t­ have been possible for her to create the massively popular Huff-Post without all the late nights working? 

It’s an unfair question because it’s impossible to know. I️ don’t want to pick on Arianna. I️ could name dozens of influential people who used their borderline unhealthy work ethic to create successful companies and freedom lifestyles, where they could mitigate and recover from the damage I­t­ created.

How many ideas of the Huff-Post caliber are crushed by lack ambition and putting in the work?

Is there a way of being rested AND successful?

I honestly don’t know. (Hopefully, someone smarter, or my future self can tell me).

The answer might come down to *everything in moderation.*

Oversleeping is just as bad sleep deprivation.
Too much-uncontrolled anger will eventually kill you. But a small amount of controlled anger? Now that might push you in the right direction to make change happen.

Change is the key factor.

Does this emotion / state / experiences / action fuel me towards changing? Does I­t­ help me create a life of meaning and worth? Is I­t­ a benefit or a detriment?

If it’s a detriment, we need to cast I­t­ out. If it’s a benefit, then perhaps the benefits outweigh the side effects they incur.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” — Homer

“One of the metaphors that I use for start-ups is, you throw yourself off a cliff and assemble your airplane on the way down. If you don’t solve the right problem at the right time, that’s the end. Mortality puts priorities into sharp focus.” — Reid Hoffman

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” — Vince Lombardi