Have you ever done something that scared the pants off you?
When I was new to writing, but determined to succeed, a prospective client asked, “Can you write copy for business websites?”
I really, really needed the job and was in no position to say that I’d never done it before. There was no way I could admit that I was a former art dealer who was just starting out as a writer, that I knew absolutely nothing about the traditional business world. Nothing at all!
But though I had no experience, I’m a firm proponent of the “fake it til you make it” philosophy. So I faked it.
Not only was I asked to write a whopping 27 text-heavy pages for a website, but they wanted me to begin the project by meeting with the CEO and CFO - and I was expected to lead the meeting!
I stood in front of that room, full of the company’s top people, and led a 30-minute presentation while having only the vaguest idea of what I was talking about.
I had to speak loudly to mask the sound of my pounding heart. And my knees shook so hard that the pants were almost scared right off me. But the meeting ended with no one discovering my secret.
I got the gig.
Looking back at my employment history, I’ve never taken a job that I felt comfortable accepting. I’ve always learned on my feet.
In fact, that’s how I broke into the art business too – pretending that I knew a lot more than I did, doing the work to learn what I needed to know, and then over-delivering, always exceeding expectations.
As one friend remarked, “You’re a liar, but not a thief.”
I’ve never put an untrue word on my resume and I don’t advise that anyone else does either. Ever. But I don’t believe in letting a little thing like knowledge stop me - because knowledge can always be attained.
The first time I ever taught The Working Artist, not one student suspected that they were my inaugural class. I’m no thief.
So if there’s something that you want to do but are afraid because you don’t have the relevant experience, I challenge you to do it anyway. And yes, I’m talking about being an artist too – so many artists never move forward because of fears about experience or degrees or pedigree.
Lack of self-confidence is the number-one ailment of artists. I constantly hear about challenges with confidence in the work, confidence in making professional connections, confidence in speaking to clients...
This does not serve you.
If you find yourself professionally paralyzed, this is what you do: You research thoroughly, you over-prepare, you practice, practice some more until you’re doing the very best you can. And then you fake it.
You can be a liar about your confidence, but never a thief with the goods you deliver.