The glacial pace of personal progress stands out in stark contrast to our focus on business liabilities.
A freshly minted Vice President of six months sat beside me in my home office. In casual business banter, he was explaining why he had come to me for coaching. He had been experiencing a few sleepless nights, some guilt and regretting some career path decisions abruptly trailing off with “I’m fine, but…“ A familiar silhouette was emerging of how he had made compromises to get where he was today; stepping on some toes, taking advantage of situations and people and telling some lies. My intrusive question, “How many lies do you tell a day?” saw his jaw drop and a high pitched “What…” warble through an agape mouth.
I went on to explain that on average a person tells about four lies a day, or 1460 lies a year. We learn how to do this very young, being caught in a lie or doing something wrong we’ve learned retribution as a child is a hard task-master. Further, I shared by my math from about six years old when we start lying; I’ve told roughly 90,000 lies. “Do you know what the most common lie is that we tell?” “No,” he meekly replied, “I’m fine…” I said.
I sense why we do is because our lies embed themselves in the stories we tell ourselves compared to what lies within us. ‘So why not change,’ musing further, “I realize I am not quite ready or willing to face the change I need for myself.” It’s expedient, and I’m like a cow chewing its cud. My mind is content regurgitating and chewing on what I’ve already digested in my thoughts, memories and most of those old lies.
Business leaders I talk to offer that the real scoundrel is the polite, intelligent, civil self we convince ourselves we are becoming. Delving deeper in discussions with other executives those talks advocate something of the smaller personality self, resisting change because of how we think about something. I went on to share how mine knows all my stories by heart parading my emotional and mental laundry before my awareness including all the soiled things. The stains on my threadbare excuses are scars of how my mind tells myself about my old hurts and my fears. Self-deception’s veil of the small self is thin and cleverly hides the details. As close as we get to the truth is along the lines of “I’m not telling a lie, I’m just not telling the whole truth.” Make no mistake, It’s in our actions, not words; how I behave, not what I say.
I’m aware I frequently know the truth before I ask the question. So why do I ask the question? I ask for confirmation. Touching my intuition (gut) and listening from there develops my capacity to connect with my truth. It’s how I reference what’s right outside of me. Being factual and honest with myself is possible when I’m present to others and speaking that truth, my truth – to myself first. Then “I’m fine…”
Jim Grant is an Executive and Leadership Coach (PCC) living in Helsinki FInland. If you would like to have a chat around personal development and leadership challenges, give him a call at: +358 40 178 1030 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org