We’re All Liars
In the bestseller, Leadership and Self-Deception the story is told of an upper level manager, “Tom”, who has an inability to see his own problem – self-deception. Self-deception caused a number of significant problems both for Tom and those he worked and lived with. Let’s take a look at this scenario:
- Tom always saw others as the source of his problems.
- Tom had an overblown sense of his importance, always saw himself as the most committed, the most dedicated, and the smartest guy in the room.
- Tom actually, unknowingly, provoked others to resist him and his efforts.
- Tom blamed other people for the problems he helped to create. This can cause those who interact with Tom to resent him, which impedes true team work.
- Tom had inability to see that he was often the source of his own problems.
This blindness, while problematic, is not incurable. Tom, through caring and careful conversations with his peers had a paradigm shifting moment that resulted in some humbling moments of self-honesty, reflection, and vulnerability. Eventually, he became willing to receive honest feedback from those who worked closely with him. Tom’s choice to ask and receive their unfiltered feedback literally changed his life.
Human beings have an amazing ability to lie to themselves and others. While we’ve been created with amazing minds, we also come well-equipped for self-deception. We can fill our schedules with emails, meetings, social media viewing, and whatever else we can muster to keep ourselves diverted from what really matters. We can also deflect, avoid and spin the reality of a situation to avoid having to face its truth.
Some lying may actually service a purpose. A Psychology Today article, The Many Ways We Lie To Ourselves explains that some reasons why people lie are overconfidence, denial of reality, blind spots (ignorance, arrogance, low emotional intelligence or self-insight), fear and handicapping one’s self.
Regardless of the reasons we lie, we need to learn to embrace our wounds. How often do we have an injury that is painful, perhaps much more noticeable to us than others? We keep our aches and pains concealed so as not to reveal our weakness.
But wonderful things can happen when we choose to reveal our weakness in the proper setting. While revealing the ailment requires courage, and sometimes, depending on its severity, may cause short-term pain. The weakness now has a chance of becoming our greatest strength.
While we think that hiding out issues may preserve peace in a relationship, or allow us to save face, it actually causes it to become a more powerful foe, eventually becoming a destructive life force.
Facing the thing that we fear most allows us to tackle our fears. In the root of the most serious problems is where you’ll find the seeds to new life, hope and strength for the future. Keep going!
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This is an edited excerpt from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son.
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