27 September 2023

Little self-lies that mean big trouble

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Bruce Kasanoff* says deceiving others can be irresponsible and unethical, but deceiving yourself means you can never develop your career in the way you want.

There’s a funny thing about deception: We frequently think about it in terms of one person deceiving another, but the most devastating moments are when you lie to yourself.

As a teenager, you might think: My coach is a jerk. Why is he playing [so and so] who isn’t half as good as me?

What you ought to be thinking is: I need to train even harder, be more of team player, and maybe even switch positions to earn a starting role on this team.

But it’s easier to just grumble and blame the coach.

In your professional career, you might think: I’m not ready for more responsibility.

In reality, you may not be ready to work nights and weekends, or get on a plane three days a week.

Instead of admitting that you will never be ready for that, you waste several years pretending that you just need a bit more experience.

You can end up working for the wrong organisation, or promoting the wrong person, simply because you are lying to yourself.

If any of this sounds a bit too familiar, here’s what you might consider.

Most of us behave one way when we are comfortable, and another when we are uncomfortable.

Put me on a ski slope with some friends, and I’ll be laughing and joking.

Ask me to serve on the audit committee of a bank and I’ll be looking at my watch the whole time and squirming as my stomach rumbles.

Instead of ignoring such signs, we need to focus on them. Otherwise, our career may become a directionless mess.

If you suddenly start procrastinating, there are two main possibilities: You are lazy, or uncomfortable with the direction things are moving.

If you avoid certain conversations, it’s probably because you can’t say what you actually want to say.

The more you drink, use drugs, call in sick, become aggravated, or feel lethargic… the more likely that you are pursuing a path that’s not true to who you are and what you want.

One caveat — I’m not talking about working under pressure.

Most of us go through periods in which we have to do two weeks of work in one.

You can love your job, but hate your boss. A client can make your life painful and depressing. None of these indicate that you are lying to yourself.

When you feel bad in what ought to be good times, that should sound a warning bell.

Remember this: One person’s dream job can be another person’s hell.

Just because you make a big salary and have a big staff doesn’t mean you are doing what you want to do.

Just because you are an artist doesn’t mean you were born to be an artist.

There’s a voice inside each of us that knows the right path. In many people, this voice is drowned out by what you ‘should’ be doing.

Push those ‘shoulds’ aside.

Listen until you hear the truth. It isn’t somewhere out there.

It’s inside you, where it’s always been.

*Bruce Kasanoff is the founder of The Journey, a newsletter for positive, uplifting and accomplished professionals. He can be contacted at kasanoff.com.

This article first appeared at kasanoff.com.

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