My first boss told me that “Fake it till you make it” is not a piece of good advice, because it involves pretending that you are great at something that you are not and then just hoping that you somehow get to the pinnacle of success. Since I have grown up on this advice, as many of you have, I was taken aback by this. But while thinking about writing this blog, I understood how my boss’s words changed my perspective towards life.
“It” can be any new task, habit, project or role you haven’t aced yet. And acing “it” may involve constantly fighting with your inner self. But, if you are not convinced you are initially good at “it”, you might feel an imposter syndrome kicking in and stop doing “it” altogether. My boss recommended that I replace “faking it” with “believe in pushing your boundaries”. The suggestion was to accept that I must leave my comfort zone and convince myself I can break the glass ceilings.
She said that when you know in the back of your mind that it’s high time you must take up a challenging project, build your self-confidence, or try out something different in the company, it is better to overpromise in a meeting quickly. In fact, per her, once you have overpromised, you need to take responsibility to not under-deliver! For example, if some co-worker comes and tells you that there is this new project that you have to take up immediately, and even though you feel like saying, “no, that is hard”, sometimes it is lovely to go that extra mile and say “yes” to that project in a 10-second “confidence window”. The 10 seconds is to ensure that before the inner voice kicks in and tells you that you can’t do the project, you publicly take ownership of it.
I have realised that this was a brilliant way to give new challenges my all while pushing my boundaries, one hard thing at a time. My boss said that, gradually, I would see progress in that new project and finally give my best shot at the project because I have openly taken up the responsibility to do “it”.
This advice works because you might develop a new passion or skill while exploring that new hurdle. You never know your true potential; if you give in, you can ace “it” (that, too, in one go!) Even if you do not execute “it” that wonderfully, at least you have an empowering feeling that you have tried out something different. And the next time you get a similar challenge, you know exactly what not to do to crack “it” the next time!
Most recently, I applied my boss’s advice when I decided to take on the role of FTMBA Class Rep for Spring 2023. I had the least professional experience in terms of years of work experience in my MBA cohort. So, initially, in my head, I did not think of myself as serving as a class rep of such an experienced group. But I impulsively implemented the above advice.
Before becoming a Class Rep, I knew I was very approachable and always wanted to be helpful to my classmates. As I did not believe in being competitive, I did not view the role of a class rep as some position of power to boast about in an MBA. I got great help from my classmates in both my personal and professional life. So, I wanted to serve the best interests of my classmates, many of whom became “my tribe” for life. Hopefully, pushing my boundaries will bring justice to this promising role.
Needless to say, it is a leadership position for someone like me who was otherwise shy to be opinionated in class. I now use this opportunity to hone my communication skills further. Therefore, I highly recommend you take up this post once you are here.
—Rajshri Chakraborty, Full Time MBA Class of 2023