Tackling something new? First trick yourself and then fake it.


Katherine Waterston’s first big screen role, after years of acting on stage, is opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Phew! Heady company.

So how did she face this new challenge? Interviewed in Vogue she says, “Zadie Smith has this line about the confidence trick when you’re writing a novel, that the person you have to trick most is yourself. It’s the same when you’re approaching a character.” Go and see Inherent Vice, it’s a terrific film – and you’ll see that it was quite some trick that Katherine played on herself!

Everyone needs to trick themselves first, whether they are designing a product, starting a business, making a presentation, shooting a movie, writing a newsletter – or auditioning for a major screen role. Once you’ve tricked yourself into thinking you can do it – then you are well on the way to success.

But wait – after you’ve tricked yourself, then what? Here’s another nested citation: Brazilian social anthropologist Marcio Goldman quotes author Guimaráes Rosa who said “everything is faked at first; the authentic germinates afterwards.”

So there you have it: tackling something new?  First trick yourself and then fake it.  Rules to live by.

(Thanks to Ian Pollock, currently of Jakarta, for digging up the Marcio Goldman quote)