Lying: Why we do it and how to stop
I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life devoted to uncovering the “real” me. The insecure, inadequate me that I could only discover by peeling off the many layers that blocked the path to the real me. I chronicle this in my new book Perfect Pain.
As an addict, it was impossible to tell the truth and I always hated that. Working through this has not only led me to be stronger as a result, but it also led to a happier me. This journey of mine has also led me to an obsession with studying the truth and the things that block us all from being 100 percent truthful with others and ourselves.
As a former entrepreneur and leader, I always wanted a culture of truth among my team. I wanted transparency and fostered it as best as I could. The more I personally worked on it, the more my company benefited from it. I had to set an example as a leader and create a culture where the truth is always demanded and expected.
In the workplace, I have found the following to be the most common reasons we lie:
1. To bail ourselves out of a tough situation
2. To not hurt someone’s feelings
3. To improve our competitive social standing amongst our peers
4. To hide our inadequacies
Overall, the worst kind of lie is when you lie to yourself. You’re not a bad person because you lie, but it does limit your progress as a human being. You can’t be “real” if you lie and you can’t be honest with yourself or others if you aren’t working on this.
We are great at rationalizing why we lie. We steal time at work when we browse the internet for our own personal reasons. This is common and we find ways to rationalize it, “I am working way harder than the others, I deserve this time” or “I just made them 200K on my last deal,” etc. But know this, if you have any desire for self-betterment you won’t get there unless you start today and work on yourself.
So if you want to be a better leader, a better spouse or just simply a better person try these three things today:
1) Ask Why
In order to be honest with others, you have to start being honest with yourself. To do that, you have to ask yourself “why?” For example, if you’re in a meeting and you find yourself over exaggerating the results of a sales presentation you gave and as a result you enjoy receiving the affirmation and praise from your team. By asking many “why’s” you may find that it’s a problem you struggle with from childhood issue that has gone unresolved. It may be praise that you didn’t receive from your dad as a child, so now you’re chasing it. Without a practice of asking yourself “why” you will never get the truth and thus never understand.
2) Practice being vulnerable
Being vulnerable shines a light on your inadequacies which most people hate. But if you don’t share your inadequacies, you will never have the opportunity to work through them and grow from them. You want people to view the real you and receive an honest depiction of you. Sharing your imperfections or weaknesses is a sign of power. Over time the more you practice this, the more you will see its impact on not only you but the people around you! When you do that, they are likely to follow.
3) Go from a 1 to a 2
Working on this stuff is difficult. You won’t go from a one to a two and become 100 percent transparent overnight. The task of doing that is so monumental that you will end up failing and then ultimately quit. So, set a small goal. Maybe just start by noticing when you exaggerate something and eventually make it your goal to NEVER exaggerate again. Then move to the next thing. Overtime, this will become automatic and you’ll analyze it unconsciously. Eventually, this will be the new and improved version of yourself!