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Executive Corner – Don’t Be a Leader Who Lies

Michael Clegg | 10/25/2023

First, the only thing limiting your ability is YOU.  

You are in control of your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.  

Although it can be easy to blame external factors, the truth is that you are the only one who can control how you respond to the things that happen to you.  

I’ve said it before regarding leadership behavior, but this can apply to anyone: 

NO BCD. To learn more about Brian Kight, the creator of No BCD, check this out. 

I’ve heard, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” While we don’t always have the solution from the get-go, it’s essential to at least try to be part of figuring out the solution. 

In other words, don’t just sit back, complain about the things in your life that aren’t going well, and blame the external factors. You’re just lying to yourself. You have control of the way you respond to your external factors.  

You might be thinking, what do you mean? 

Here are some examples and some alternative beliefs to start practicing. 

1. Lie: “If I could just [insert achievement here], my life would be amazing.” 

This lie reflects the misconception that a specific achievement or possession holds the key to perpetual happiness. For example, you might think, “When I get this job, my life will be great,” or “When I make it big, I’ll be set.” It’s much more than that, though. As humans, it’s in our nature to tend always to want more. I’m not saying not to have goals. I’m just saying it’s essential to recognize that it’s okay to be happy where you are. 

Alternative Practice: Appreciate what you have! Practicing gratitude daily will help minimize that false state of mind where you believe you don’t have enough.  

2. “If I had more time, I would do [insert something I’m not prioritizing here].” 

This lie involves excusing inaction by blaming the lack of time, with the article compelling us to confront the reality that we prioritize what genuinely matters to us. It challenges individuals to reassess their commitments and recognize that allocating time is a matter of choices aligned with personal values. 

Alternative Practice: Look at your daily habits and evaluate places where you may spend too much time on something you don’t want to prioritize. Maybe you watch a couple of hours of TV in the evening after dinner, play video games for a few hours, or sleep in until the very last minute. Adjust your schedule to make time for whatever it is you’re not prioritizing and make it a priority. As a leader, time with your employees is critical.  It’s the only way to develop a great culture.   

3. “If I say or do [insert embarrassing thing here], people will think I’m stupid.” 

Address the fear of external judgment by diving into the root cause, identifying your worthiness from the inside and believing in yourself. It is pertinent that you shift your focus from external perceptions to self-acceptance. Other people’s opinions do not define you nor do they determine your personal worth. As a leader, it’s important not to fall for being liked more than respected. 

Alternative Practice: Be confident in your words and actions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t withhold any changes or information that needs to be presented because you fear your team won’t like you. 

4. “If I just say or do [insert something that still won’t change anything], that person will finally change.” 

This lie revolves around the misguided belief in the ability to change others, emphasizing the importance of assisting individuals in changing themselves. The article warns against unhealthy attachments and unrealistic expectations, encouraging a focus on personal growth rather than trying to force change upon others. 

Alternative Practice: You can’t make people change. You can only accept people for who they are. Nothing you can do or say will make them change their habits, thinking, or beliefs. Worry about yourself and what you can control.  As a leader, our job is to inspire, not motivate.  Their motivation should come intrinsically.  We must spend time with our team and learn what’s important to them. 

5. “Everything is great/everything sucks.” 

Acknowledging the subjectivity of life perspectives, this lie highlights the importance of consciously choosing how to perceive and experience life. It encourages a nuanced understanding, reminding individuals that their outlook shapes their reality and advocating for a mindset that appreciates life’s complexity.  

Alternative Practice: While your thoughts don’t define who you are, they can certainly shape the way you perceive the rest of the world. Constantly keeping a negative mindset will eventually make you accustomed to seeing the wrong side of everything. Just as a positive attitude will help you view the world more positively, keep your thoughts positive! Your thoughts become your words, and they become your actions. 

6. “I would change, but I can’t because of [insert excuse here].” 

This lie involves excusing a lack of change by attributing it to external factors. The things that happen to you are not the cause of your stagnation. Again, you can control how you respond to what happens to you.  

Alternative Practice: Confront and overcome the internal barriers often manifest as external excuses. Once you confront those barriers, try understanding them and creating your reality. You are in control of your own life.  You are responsible for your behaviors as a leader because those lead to outcomes.  Modeling appropriate behaviors that get to great outcomes is a part of the job. 

#7: “I would give him/her the feedback, but I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings.” 

This is a big lie that leaders tell themselves.  I often hear the response, “I don’t want to hurt their feelings.” What they are really saying is, “I’m too uncomfortable giving them that feedback.” Another truth to this lie is, “I want them to like me, and they might get upset with me when I give them that feedback.”  Providing critical feedback is part of being a great leader.  It leads to respect. 

Alternative Practice: Strive to provide honest and constructive feedback, no matter what. Nothing is more important than helping your team grow. Don’t be mean about it, of course. Be respectful and be specific!  

Taking all of these lies we tell ourselves into consideration, they all have something in common; They all have to do with the way we react or respond to the situations that we are in. Try to keep in mind the difference between Big “R” and Little “r” that I mentioned in my previous article. In this analogy, a measured, intentional response is your Big “R” and an impulsive, instinctive knee-jerk reaction is your Little “r”. Strive to create thoughtful, intentional responses rather than reacting in the heat of a moment. 

Ultimately, the power lies within you—your thoughts, beliefs, and responses shape your reality. External factors may be beyond your control, but your response to them is entirely up to you. Remember the mantra: NO BCD—be part of the solution, not the problem. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming and complaining, but taking control of your responses is the key to personal empowerment. 

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