Vail on Purpose: Caught in the act |

Vail on Purpose: Caught in the act

Sheri Fisher
Val, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Fake it ’til you make it!” in reference to pretending like you know what you are doing even when you don’t – until you do.

Although this can give people confidence to step into a situation that requires growth, the problem comes when you get caught faking it. My client, Marc, was in the process of discovering the impact of being caught in the act.

“The other day at work, I was put on the spot,” Marc began. “A woman from another department asked me a question and I didn’t know the answer so I made it up.”

“It sounds like you think you should’ve known the answer. Is that what’s bothering you? “I asked.

“There are a couple of things that are bothering me,” Marc said. “First, I should have known the answer, but didn’t. Second, I pretended I knew so I didn’t look stupid. And last, by not admitting I didn’t know I made something up that isn’t true and her department head called me on it today. Now I look like an incompetent liar.”

“That sounds heavy. Where would you like to start?” I asked.

“Let’s start from the beginning. I should have known the answer,” Marc said.

“Is that you talking or your ‘saboteur’s’ voice?” I asked, referring to the negative voice he and I had identified before that constantly berates him for “not being good enough.”

“I’ve gone over her question a dozen times and still am not sure how I could have known the answer,” he said. “I guess it was my saboteur’s voice talking.”

“Is the saboteur’s message true? Should you have known the answer?” I asked.

“There’s no way I could have known,” Marc said, “but I got caught-up in the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mindset … and got caught lying.”

“What was your hesitation in being honest?” I asked.

“Since being promoted, I’ve wondered whether or not I was ready for this position,” he confided. “I’ve only been there a year and have never managed before. Quite frankly, I don’t know what I am doing! But I would never admit that to anyone.”

“What would happen if others knew?” I asked.

“That would ruin my act,” he said.

“What is your act?” I asked.

“I’ve used my act since I was young. It’s the Marc that other people want to see,” he said.

“What do other people want to see at work?” I asked.

“They want someone who can lead them, who knows what he’s doing,” Marc said.

“What leadership qualities do you possess – without your act?” I asked.

“I’m good with people and I communicate well,” Marc said. “I’m also good at thinking on my feet … usually,” he smiled.

“What areas could you improve upon to strengthen your leadership skills and how would you do that?” I asked.

“Time management is not my strong suit,” he said. “I could probably take a workshop or read a book to improve.”

“What about in relation to what happened this week?” I asked.

“I feel out of the loop with senior management and don’t have an overall perspective of our company,” Marc said. “Other managers get a copy of the senior management meeting summary, but it’s never been offered to me. I’ll request a copy tomorrow from the president’s secretary.”

Marc continued thinking out loud, “With more information, I’ll be better prepared to answer her questions or tell her I’d get back to her. I’ll have more confidence and won’t be so dependent on my act.”

“Over the next week, will you observe when you are being real and when you are in your act?” I asked.

“I’ll do it,” Marc agreed. “Being more aware will help me realize how often I hide behind my act and possibly help me to be more real,” he said. “Being real is the sign of a true leader, which is what I aspire to be.”

Coaches Challenge: Be observant this week and write down a description of your act? Your act is the gap between who you really are and what you want others to believe about you. When do you try harder to create and uphold your act? When do you release your act?

Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado with her husband Tom and their three sons. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. If you have topic suggestions, Sheri can be reached at or for more information, visit:

Support Local Journalism