Cultivating inner truth to change your life and your leadership

Oh yes. That’s right. The lying game. We’ve all done it. We all do it. Some lies we say out loud. Others we keep tucked inside, quietly festering.

Here’s a brief menu of lies (feel free to add your favorites to the list):

* The lies we tell ourselves to avoid stepping out of our comfort zone.
* Those self-deprecating lies we tell others to put them at ease.
* Those glamour lies, like how successful we are, that make us feel important.
* The lies about what we really need, or don’t need, to be happy.
* And, of course, the protection lies we tell to make sure we are ‘right’.

The list is endless. The opportunities to share them, infinite. Why not lie to ourselves to make our lives a little ‘easier’? Here’s why.

We can become so habitual in our lying that we lose sight of what is actually important to us. Lies create distance from and distrust with others. Their insidious deceit cuts into our Self and our integrity in the world.

For those of you who think, “I’m not like that”, or “What does this have to do with business?”, watch yourself throughout your day. If you’re not living your fullest potential and getting the respect you desire, I’ll be willing to wager there’s a lie right at the center of it all. Make a list of your most common lies. Notice where they infect your view of your Self and your connections with others.

For one week, I committed not to tell a single lie. I vowed to notice when I felt ‘lied to’ and to be candid with others about lying. I quickly realized just how huge a task I had taken on. I discovered all the little ways I “protect” myself by telling white lies. How I avoid issues by acquiescing to someone’s one-sided version of the truth just to make life easier for all.

I started testing out a different way to be—with myself, in my relationships and in my coaching/speaking. The difference was astounding. I’ll admit that I was a bit anxious at first, waiting for the ax to drop. But each successful interaction bolstered my conviction to take a bigger risk. (Hmmm, isn’t that interesting: ‘to risk telling the truth’.) The great part: as you begin to fully untame your truth, you actually become more compassionate, kind and impactful.

When I started talking to clients about untaming their lying game, each one was stunned to discover just how embedded they were in lies that kept them from being their most vibrant and authentic Self.

Here’s what people found:

* They realized that they were swimming so fast to stay afloat in the lie that their Self was drowning in the morass of untruths.

* Some discovered that their ‘polite’ attempts to avoid offending others kept true connection out of reach. Business owners realized it was their very ‘polite’ lies that kept them from gaining the respect, and business, they seek.

* Speakers realized that audiences are tired of people exaggerating the truth and reframing facts to sway their emotions. The idea of taking time to create a more authentic relationship was simultaneously refreshing and unsettling. The question then, for them, was, “Wow, how do I do that?”.

* And yes, for some, unraveling the lies challenged the identity they had crafted over many years. It wreaked havoc!

Depending on how deeply embedded your lies are, or how attached you are to them, disentangling yourself can take determination and deep inner trust. I won’t kid you. It can be challenging. As one client noticed, they’re everywhere. He commented, “Lying is so rampant that if you simply tell the truth, in a respectful way, people take notice.”

And about those little white lies—the ones that make the family gatherings with the overbearing person more bearable? Well, perhaps you choose to indulge them. The important thing is that you do so by choice rather than by habit.

So, my invitation: Take a moment to ask yourself where in your life you would like to feel more empowered or enhance your sense of worth (emotional or monetary). Then start to notice. What lies are you telling yourself or others? Write them down. And, please, don’t judge them. Just notice.

If you’re ready, choose to NOT tell a lie in those areas for a day. Notice what happens both inside yourself and with others. And, get ready. You might find yourself tempted to toss one in right at the moment when you feel uncertain. My suggestion is to breathe and remember your promise to yourself.

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Carolyn Campbell has more than 30 years’ experience working with non-profit and for-profit businesses. In creative and connecting ways, Carolyn melds her expertise in community outreach, education and business development to help clients expand their reach and increase their impact…using their unique approach to life. Her areas of specialty include leadership, visioning, outreach and community building.