The Three Sides Of “Making Something” and “Making It”

Earlier this week, Serdar explored the difference between Making Something and Making It. The two aren’t necessarily connected, and an attempt to Make It can mean doing things that go against your talent, skills, ethics, and good taste. Doing something well and getting recognized aren’t always the same thing, but seeking the recognition can distort your efforts further.

In fact, I wanted to take up the torch (and perhaps the pitchfork) and cover something related to this that faces us in our careers and our lives: Making It and Making Something are not just different, they also represent different skillets – Three of them.

Yes. Three. Let me go on.

Yes, being good at something and making good things doesn’t necessarily you’re going to Make It. All the elements of Making It (beyond luck, privilege, and other things beyond your controls) are often difference skills from what you’re making – publicity, PR, marketing, self-organizing – unless what you’re making is, say, a PR career.

On one hand this means that if you can really Make something – music, books, project plans, etc. that there’s no guarantee you’ll experience Making It. You’re good at something yet, but as we’ve often seen, just being good at something doesn’t mean you’re going to make a lot of money at it or be famous or be appreciated. Sure it increases the chance, but it’s not a guarantee as we all know

That’s when we get to Making It. To being a success. To getting the money. To doing what you love for a living.

To me, the core of Making it is the ability to turn what you Make into a paying career. It’s the ability to promote and sell yourself. It’s the ability to organize yourself so your career is effective. Its the ability to improve yourself and keep getting better. It’s the ability to take what you do and Make Something Of It as it were.

This is a completely separate skill set or set of skills. They’re two we both need to succeed – and as we’ve often seen, not all of us develop both skillsets.

Then there’s the third skill.

Sometimes we focus too much on Making It. On doing what sells. On what gives us something that looks like success. Something that focuses on Making It but not on Making Something. Something bereft of value to provide or the ability to optimize it.

Making It, when pushed without a foundation, becomes something else. Let’s call it Faking It.

Faking it is the skill set of BS, of selling illusions, of doing whatever it takes so you can check off the traits of Making It off of the list. Faking it is doing what’s popular just to sell a book and not really writing a good one. Faking it is relying on PR to tell a story with no foundation. Faking it is, when it comes down to it, selling shit as gold without any in-between alchemical process.

Unfortunately we mix up Making It with Faking It. We assume if we just BS and manipulate enough to succeed then we’ll Make It. We don’t even need to Make something (though maybe once we were good at it). We just need to learn the third skill of Faking It.

We have enough role models out there for this of course. I shall be a gentleman and not go into excessive detail. I’m quite sure you’ve seen people without talent or product (that’s worth it) succeed and leave it at that. Enough for us to wonder . . .

. . . wonder if it’d be better to Fake It.

I’d like to answer “no.”

We fall into the trap of thinking it’d be easy to Fake It because we see plenty of success. The thing is we only see the people who succeed at it (or who fall into Faking It after Making It). You don’t see the legions of people who tried to Fake It and got nowhere, or became parasites on friends and families, or ended up with nothing going for them.

Or you do because the people who focused on Faking It need to borrow money or tried to con you.

So learn to Make Something. Learn to Make It.

But when it comes to Faking It? I’d say the thing you really need to learn is the warning signs, to know when you’re being conned – or when you’re in danger of falling into the trap of being the BS artist.

– Steven