Lies I Tell Myself

Ever been surprised to find you'd lied to yourself? photo by (c) michele piacquadio
Ever been surprised to find you’d lied to yourself? photo by (c) michele piacquadio

I’m a pretty honest person. If a store clerk gives me too much change, I return the excess without a thought. If I’m planning a surprise party for you and you ask me, “Are you planning a surprise party for me?” I can’t say no with a straight face. I wouldn’t dream of fudging my taxes, and my resume is the least creative thing I’ve ever done. So one of the most surprising things I’ve learned as a business owner is the number of lies I’m capable of telling myself.

I have caught myself being both a gullible listener and a master of weasel-words. But once the lie has been exposed, it doesn’t work anymore. Now that I’ve been busted, I can’t pull these fast ones like I once did.

Here’s a rogue’s gallery of my past prevarications. See if any of these are on your rap sheet.

I can’t afford it. I’ve stopped myself from way too much growth by putting the cost ahead of the value and accepting money as an absolute limit. Here’s the thing: if I don’t want anything, then I have no problem. No ambition, no dissatisfaction means no need. But as soon as I want something, I’ve created a problem for myself — a very good problem. If I want to attend a top-notch training or take a fabulous trip, and I don’t have the money, then I’ve created an excellent problem. The challenge then becomes how to make it happen, how to earn the money, make a trade, find some assets, whatever it takes. To turn away from something because “I can’t afford it” is an insidious form of playing small. Give yourself a problem. Want something big. Then make it happen.

I’m too busy! This isn’t a lie, exactly, but it is a deception. It’s deceptive because, unless you are the parent of children under five, busyness is completely optional. Whenever I tell myself I’m busy, all I’m saying is that I’ve loaded up my plate with more than I can eat. The suggestion is that busyness is an excuse. It’s the reason why I haven’t written that note, made time to exercise, called you back, organized that fundraiser. Busyness just means that I’ve taken the wrong things from life’s buffet line. Load your plate with the right amounts of the things you really want. And leave that “I’m too busy” excuse on the steam-table.

It’s not that bad. This is really the worst deception of all for me. This is the lie that keeps me in a torpor, lets me off of all hooks. It makes all learning, striving, and achieving seem somehow unseemly, because what I have and what I do is “not that bad.” But the fact that my life is great is really completely beside the point. Yes, I am blessed beyond words. And I can still imagine something better. I can imagine a world in which all people experience their work as spiritually meaningful and important, where everyone creates wealth and increases freedom through their work. And until the world is that good, it doesn’t matter that what I have or am or do is “not that bad.” There is more for me to aim for. There’s a reason to continue with my daily mission of providing my clients with the tools to recognize, choose, and make time for what really matters. The questions isn’t “is it really that bad.” The question I need to ask is, “how can it be better?”

Time to ‘fess up! Where could you be more honest with yourself? Leave a comment here.

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