Fake It Till You Make It

“What can I do to be a better yoga teacher?”  “Ummm, paint your toenails?”

This was a conversation between a new 200-hour yoga teacher training graduate and a highly experienced yoga teacher/practitioner. The teacher was telling me the story.

My response was “THAT was what you came up with?” She said, “Well I was looking at her and I was thinking ‘Where do I even start? ‘ Then I looked down and saw her feet. So, I figured might as well start at the bottom.”

And off the TT graduate went, entrusted by the sacred covenant of the Yoga Alliance guidelines for yoga masters, out into the world to disseminate the techniques of yoga enlightenment to the hungry masses.

Problem is she didn’t know what the actual Sanskrit translation of ‘namaste’ is, or what exactly OM may be. Hopefully she took the sage advice of the master, and painted her toenails.

We live in a world of such constant instant gratification that the harsh reality of mastering a skill is often lost on many of us. We have had all the necessities, readily available, for so long that we don’t quite compute the concept of struggle.

I knew a girl who went to the same yoga studio that I did, where there was a very dedicated and experienced teacher with an amazing practice. My friend said to me one day, “I’d give anything to have a practice like that.”

I told her “No you wouldn’t. You aren’t willing to spend the thousands of hours of practice and study to achieve that, or you would doing it.”

Mincing words when it comes to truthful observations has never been my strong point.

This is not to say that my friend is in some way not cool or uninformed. It is natural for us, as humans, to admire and wish we possessed traits and skills we see in others.

Let’s look at the process of learning anything.

  • Unconscious incompetence – We don’t even know what we don’t know yet.
  • Conscious incompetence – We are figuring out what we need to learn and learning what we need to become competent.
  • Conscious competence – With conscious effort and thought we can exhibit competence.
  • Unconscious competence – Mastery of the skill or subject. All you have to do is show up and it will happen.

A conversation between Conscious incompetence and Unconscious competence would go something like this:

Conscious incompetence (TT student) – “Do you have a lesson plan for your class today?”

Unconscious competence (20-year teacher) – “Ummm yeah. It’s the same one I always have. I pray I don’t suck.”

We want to perform the skill and gain the recognition / income / whatever and be done with it without putting in the time and effort to become the real deal. We want the glory without the sweat.

And, of course, modern pop culture is happy to accommodate us with the solution. It is recommended by the internet self-help “Gurus” and experts, who are probably doing exactly what they are recommending.

It is the concept of, (drum roll please!) …” Fake it till you make it.” Yep, you get to be crappy at what you do, until you get good at it. Of course, usually, no one you are promoting yourself to knows this until it’s too late.

By then they have spent their money, gotten the bad haircut, lost their investment, or been injured because of the crappy trainer or yoga teacher.

Of course, we the consumer, don’t know this upfront and so we end up, a lot of the time, being ‘faked out’.

It is a swell concept if you are the Faker, but not so rewarding if you are the customer.

I don’t necessarily agree with the “10,000 hours” to mastery theory. I think,  in some situations, it can be less. But, I do know this. It takes a long time to really own a skill or subject…to get to the point of Unconscious competence.

The unfortunate thing is that incompetence has become so common place that we have been dumbed down to celebrating mediocrity. An epidemic in modern culture.

Different types of “career coaching”, teacher trainings, online certifications and others fall into the fake it till you make it category, but only manage to pull it off in certain sectors. Usually in places where quantitative results are less obvious.

For instance, if I give a crappy, unsafe yoga class to a bunch of beginners, probably, no one will even know.

If I am a doctor, and I negligently kill someone, it’s really bad for all concerned.

The problem is that we are constantly dealing with fakers. I swear to God, I had a plumber come to my house and I had to tell him how to fix the problem.

Why didn’t I fix it myself? I didn’t have the tools. But, damn, it’s insulting to tell somebody how to do their job, and then give them money on top of it!

It has gotten so bad that we even have services, like “Angie’s list” to protect us from faker/hacks. Think about that. We must pay for a service to protect us from people who suck at what they do!

What is the take-away from this? So many people have such a deluded perception of themselves, that they believe that they deserve “rock star” status instantly. I say “screw you!”

If I am going to spend my hard-earned money on anything, I want to give it to a master of their craft. Plumber, yoga teacher, hairdresser, even the server at the restaurant.

Research is essential. Recommendations from people you trust. If you do get a hack, you must be willing to say, “you know what, this isn’t working out. See Ya!”

Treasure and support your awesome, honest mechanic. Recommend your amazing dentist or doctor or Pilates teacher. Value your network of masters, and if you find the truly “gifted” be more than just their customer, be their champion. Support and recommend them.

I hope I never see the true master, artist or gifted teacher, who is maybe not so “market savvy”, struggle, while the smooth-talking faker-hack succeeds.

Frigging fakers need to go paint their toenails.

Rant over.  Peace out.


The more you comment and share and stuff, the better it is for my google search results. The better those results, better for me…someone whom I hope you don’t consider a faker. 🙂