Faking Your Way to Success

An orange pussy cat is looking at his reflection in the mirror and sees a lion

Fake Your Way to Success













“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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“Fake it until you make it,” suggests Jane Brody in her health column A Richer Life by Seeing the Glass Half Full in the New York Times.

Optimism is the Attitude of Success

Optimism is the attitude of success. We all know that. But knowing that and doing it – that’s something else again.

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Murphy’s law, which we all know too well, promises that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. But in her book, Breaking Murphy’s Law, University of Kentucky Professor Suzanne C. Segerstrom explains, “people can learn to be more optimistic by acting as if they were more optimistic.”  She recommends a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy where you start by faking it: act on an optimistic plan, and expect attitude to follow action.

What’s an optimistic plan? Instead of avoiding issues, optimists tackle them. Optimists plan for success, solicit advice and focus on solutions.  Segerstrom’s “faking it” is “being more engaged with and persistent in the pursuit of goals.” She suggests that “you might succeed more than you expected.” And even if the plan doesn’t work, there’s a good chance that the experience will arm you for the next similar problem you encounter.

When I have a client who is mired in a negative outlook, I sometimes suggest that he or she take a moment every day to identify something good that happened.   They are instructed to write down what they did to make that good thing happen.  You can read more about how this simple exercise has helped some of clients turn around their thinking and set them up for success here.

Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. How can I take a can-do approach when I feel myself stymied by negativity?
  2. What advice can you get about succeeding at your next challenge?
  3. How can you focus on the solution instead of the problem?

If you would you like to be coached on how to re-frame the negatives and turn them into stunning successes contact Dr. Lynn K. Jones for a free coaching session.

P.S.  Thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to share their stories of seeing things from the positive or who forwards this blog link to friends!

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves.  A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.

 BCC Board Certified Coach #1487


  1. KymberlyFunFit on June 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    To those who say “trite, but true?” I say “tried and true!” The latest studies on brains show the physical, measurable, definable changes our thoughts make on our brain, and hence our lives.

    • Executive Coach on June 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Kymberly Fun and Fit,
      Thanks for pointing out the great brain research that validates these ideas!

  2. Calla Gold on June 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Attitude makes all the difference, and the funny thing about “faking it” is that eventually, you find you’re not really faking it anymore.

    • Executive Coach on June 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      You make such a great point! We change our behaviors and attitudes by making small changes (that can be faked) and trick ourselves into making real change.

  3. Jackie Ruka on June 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Many do not realize that life is a two way street, what you give is what you get back in return. If you want happiness, offer it to another. Even if you don’t feel like it, you may be surprised of the positive response in return. It’s the little things that compound and lead to a larger return.

    • Executive Coach on June 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      I appreciated your observation about the importance of offering up what you hope to get back in return. A generous spirit goes a long way to creating important change.

  4. Nancy Andriuk on June 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I had to laugh when I read this because I’ve had this strategy for years. Some days you wake up grumpy but still need to make your way through the day. And if you’re a leader you need to set a great example.

    The funny thing is that most people are nice back to you even when you’re faking. Wouldn’t you know it–suddenly you’re feeling a bit happier and the faking melts away. I’ve found this to be a great short term strategy for those moods which don’t require deeper introspection. Thanks for another great post on positivity.

    • Executive Coach on June 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Nancy,
      Such a great reminder of how these ideas can be applied to small and seemingly fairly inconsequential details in our lives (like waking up on on the wrong side of the bed) and can make such a big difference.
      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Alison on June 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Faking it!! I love that! I do it all the time. It really does make me be more optimistic. It also helps my relationships. It’s just as easy to be negative as it is to be positive, with much better results. Faking it turns your life into a positive reality.

    • Executive Coach on June 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks for commenting Alison! Did you know that brain science may actually prove what you are saying here? There is research to suggest that the physical act of smiling, lights up the happy part of our brains in MRIs. Thus, we may be happy because we smile and not the reverse–that we smile because we are happy!

  6. prathima on August 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Thinking positive makes me feel positive and more energetic. I am not sure how this will help me reach goals or set goals but when I am more energetic I am more likely to do things like research programs or apply for a job. I am also less likely to sleep.

    • DrLynnKJones on August 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

       @prathima Thanks for commenting Parthima!  It sounds like you have experienced first hands the impact of being positive in that it increases your energy and motivates you to do things that are good for you.  I love that you sleep less when feeling positive!
      Dr. Jones

  7. LesleyC on September 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

    My husband introduced me to a concise way of expressing what “can” symbolizes:  
     C = commit to your vision/idea/project
                             A =  announce it to the universe
                             N =  notice what happens then.
    It’s so much better than living negatively, even if success isn’t immediately forthcoming.

    • Patricia Dugan on September 7, 2012 at 10:22 am


    • DrLynnKJones on September 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

       @LesleyC What a simple and positive way to move forward.  I especially like the N–Notice!  Thanks for sharing!

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