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Claim It Until You Make It

3 min read

If you know your shortcomings, the skills you need to develop—and you are honest with yourself—the more trustworthy you will appear to your fellow colleagues.

I hate the phrase “Fake it ’til you make it.” There I said it! I hate that phrase. What does it even mean anyway? I think it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Most of us have done it. You are in a meeting and, despite the endless descriptions you’ve read over the past week, think, “I still don’t understand this new initiative we’re embarking on or what my role is supposed to be.” You sit there and nod your head, hoping everyone thinks you know what’s going on. A little voice inside your head reassures you that the false nodding will work. That little voice is a liar!

It’s also dangerous. Think of how much time and money you waste by not asking questions! I know countless projects that have passed deadlines or collapsed because someone didn’t know how to speak up, and instead pretended they knew what was needed.

What about the phrase “Name it and claim it”? Now that’s what I like!

“Name it and claim it” focuses building awareness of your own strengths and areas for self-growth. At the Ariel Group, the “S” in our PRES model stands for “Self-Knowing.” We teach that the more you know about yourself, the more authentic you’ll be. If you know your shortcomings, the skills you need to develop—and you are honest with yourself—the more trustworthy you will appear to your fellow colleagues.

If you’re acclimated at a job and your manager asks you to take on a new task you don’t know how to complete, don’t say “Right away captain!” and run off to spend the rest of the day Googling “How to…” Google may be a great resource, but you’re forgetting the biggest resource you have at your fingertips: your boss. Before you dive right in, ask your manager clarifying questions to develop a deeper understanding around items you may not be as familiar with. A good manager will guide you on where you can look—or what you can Google—so the task is done right.

Keep in mind: I am NOT encouraging you to go up to your manager and tell them “I don’t know how to do anything!” every time you’re not 100% sure. (There would likely be a group of managers with pitchforks coming after me if I was implying that—and I’m not. Put your pitchforks away please.)

What I’m suggesting is to start opening doors you would normally keep closed. Be curious about projects. Ask questions and do research to become familiar with new initiatives. Speak to what you know and what you’re passionate about. More importantly, speak to what you’d like to learn. Share best practices with colleagues to see what tidbits you can all take away.

Are there going to be moments when you may need to fake it to get by? Absolutely. Someone may throw something at you and say “I need this ASAP!” and you won’t have the time (or the relationship) to ask for help. But as you name and claim your strengths and challenges, you’ll be surprised at the impact it will have on your teammates. Being self-aware of your strengths, even with the skills you need to develop, will make others aware of them and willing to take the risk with your talents on future projects. You will be seen as authentic and curious, a team player who is passionate about quality and continues to seek out new ways to contribute to the company’s growth. Someone who…I don’t know, is ready for greater responsibility and additional leadership opportunities perhaps? Now that has a nice ring to it too…



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