How to be a Great Pretender

The gap between your aspirational-self and your actual-self means pretending is part of the journey. But pretending in the wrong way damages your future.

Beneficial pretending begins with your values. It builds your undeveloped-self.

Dangerous pretending is living to impress others.

The leader as the great pretender:

Pretending is a form of self-control that helps you bring your best self to challenges and opportunities.

#1. Fatigue makes you irritable, but you’re kind instead. Under normal circumstances you’re kind. But circumstances aren’t normal often enough.

#2. Fear makes you pull back, but you have the tough conversation anyway.

Pretending helps you face issues you’d rather avoid.

#3. Inexperience makes you nervous about public speaking, but you step to the microphone anyway. Pretending you’re a public speaker when you feel insecure is a way to gain experience.

Healthy pretending is one way to behave your way into feeling, rather than feel your way into behaving.


Do things that confident people do, if you want to feel confident.

Don’t wait for confidence to sneak up on you. The more you wait to feel confident, the less confident you feel.


Use undeveloped compassion as a platform for reaching higher. Perhaps you feel bitter but choose compassion instead.


Pretend you’re friendly, when you feel shy. You know how to be friendly in small ways. How might you use your current ability as a platform to reach a bit higher?

The dangers of pretending:

Don’t play-act your way into making a good impression.

You lose connection with yourself when pretending is a strategy for gaining approval from others.

Amy Morin offers sage advice for the great pretender, “Just make sure you’re interested in changing yourself on the inside, not simply trying to change other people’s perceptions of you.”

Pretending is useful when it brings your aspirational-self to life.

What’s dangerous about pretending you’re something you’re not?

How might leaders use pretending in a healthy way?