Maybe that’s too harsh. Are you a liar, or do you “just” tell white lies to get what you want?
This article is for leaders who believe they are people of integrity. Anyone who holds “integrity, honesty, respect” as core values, this is for you, because I believe you truly want to honor your values. Sadly, it is inevitable that we lie almost every day — to ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues, and strangers. We consider ourselves honest, but we lie whenever it serves us.
The Stress of Lying
Why am I being so direct and harsh? Because I am seeing too many leaders buckle under stress and trade in their values for a quick fix to their problems. The more stressed you are, the more lies you tell, and the deeper is the hole you are digging for yourself.
Trust me, I have been coaching leaders for 15 years. The stress from living a lie will destroy you, and the innocent people around you. In the end, the family you want to protect and provide for is the most devastated by your lies.
Where Does It Start?
Cognitive Dissonance is a social psychology term I find fascinating. Basically, you can’t believe one thing and behave in an opposite manner. The psychological stress (or dissonance) it causes forces one or the other (the belief or the action) to change. So, you either justify the lie in your head so that you can continue to (falsely) uphold your integrity value, or you abandon the lie and start living as a person of integrity lives.
Thus lying starts with self-betrayal. You betray your own values and then begin blaming another person or circumstance for your own self-betrayal. Again, you cannot live with the stress or dissonance of betraying your own values, so your integrity goes out the window and you begin to live in your altered reality.
I use an excellent book called Leadership and Self-Deception with my high-performing leadership teams. It talks about how quickly we can put people “in the box” and treat them as objects instead of human beings. We have no problem lying about them and destroying them, because of the story we are telling ourselves from our own imprisoned box.
Leaders Spin and Sell the Lie
If you are stuck in the spin cycle, you will need to hire a coach to support you as courageously you journey back to your integrity. Without outside perspective we will spin stories and get others to agree with our “story.” When we are living in our own self-betrayal and out of alignment from our own values, there is a need to sell our lie to get other people to join us. When there is a common enemy to fight, there is unity; however, when we create the enemy out of our own self-betrayal we are headed down a path of mass destruction.
Now, please keep your social filters in place and use common sense as you process what I’m saying. But also challenge yourself to stop tolerating this cowardly — and I might add, narcissistic — behavior. Wouldn’t you agree that liars are cowards? I know when I lie that is what I am — a coward! It takes a brave person to confront the lies in their life and take ownership of their own behaviors.
How Does It End?