6 Lies We Tell Ourselves—And How They Derail Our Life and Business

Most of us would not choose to believe a lie; however, without a solid foundation of belief based on research, science, or fact, how do we know what to believe?

In the movie “Something’s Gotta Give,” there’s a scene that captures one reality about the truth. After catching the man she loves on a date with another woman, Diane Keaton is chased out of the restaurant by a guilty and upset Jack Nicholson. When he finally stops her, he pleads, “I have never lied to you; I have always told you some version of the truth. She replies, “The truth doesn’t have versions, OK?”

And she’s right: The truth may have many sides to it. It may be complicated or hard to understand, but it exists…in one version. Yet, most of us have trouble with the truth. We may not be outright liars, but we certainly shade the truth to make it fit more comfortably into our lives—to keep it from disrupting everything from our careers to our relationships.

Let’s consider the lies we tell ourselves in business. We have all heard the maxim (often attributed to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels), “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” Among psychologists something like this is known as “the illusion of truth.” Whatever we call it, we simply need to stop it!

Remember the concept of a white lie? We have likely all told these in the past to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, which someone like Spock (from Star Trek fame, not the pediatrician) had no problem with. His Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression were always present. Unless you are reading this and classify yourself as Vulcan, you, too, have emotions, and most likely do not intend to lie to your clients, customers, or team. But the truth is, the lies are far more common than you think.

In the bestseller “The One Thing,” authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan outline the six big lies we tell ourselves that derail us in life and business. Here we go:

Pareto’s Principle:
The minority of your efforts leads to the majority of your results.

1. Everything matters equally.

Really? Consider Pareto’s Principle, aka the 80/20 Principle, which states: “The minority of your efforts leads to the majority of your results.” The data is in: If you produce 80 percent of your sales, revenue, and production from just 20 percent of focused activity, doesn’t it stand to reason that you need to focus even more on that 20 percent, and less on the 80 percent of activity that robs you of productivity? (Yes, the answer is Yes!)

Overwhelmed afro man with post it notes - isolated over a white background2. Multitasking is important.

Multitasking is the perception that we can do more than one thing at a time at a high level and still produce outstanding results. This is a big fat lie. While many of us try to make this claim, our minds simply are not designed for this kind of “unfocused” activity. As Steve Uzzell says in “The ONE Thing,” “Multitasking is merely the ability to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Even the term “multitasking” was not around until the 1960s, and it was originally used to explain computers, not people!

3. A disciplined life is a requirement for success.

This is also a myth. The truth is, we do not need any more discipline than what we already have. We just need to direct it and manage it better. I will ask a class, or a coaching client, “Who decides your future?” and most people will say, “I do!” To this I respond, “No, you do not. You decide your habits, and your habits decide your future.” In truth, all we need is enough discipline to form our habits, and then our habits take over. So, don’t be a disciplined person; become a person of powerful habits and use selective discipline to develop them.

4. Willpower is always on will-call.

If this myth were true, we would have the same amount of energy at the end of the day as we did at the start of the day. It is a matter of energy, and willpower has a limited battery life. Think about the last time you made a major decision that did not work out well. Many times, if we are tired and worn down, our potential to make a less than stellar decision is affected. Why do we have coffee breaks? To reenergize our thoughts and physical responses. Willpower is not always on will-call, so be aware of those times of day you have great energy—and work from that. Avoid the pitfall of thinking you’re “as good once as you ever was,” as Toby Keith would say. Don’t spread your willpower too thin and keep an eye on your fuel gauge.

Instead of bemoaning the lack of balance in your life, congratulate yourself for being on the path of productivity.

5. Live a balanced life.

Attempting to maintain “work/life balance” is all the rage these days, and sorry to burst another bubble, but this too is a lie. Nothing ever achieves absolute perfect balance. NOTHING! We all know that it would be wonderful to live a balanced life with no stress or worry, but alas, it will not be so. Because not all things matter equally, we will constantly be out of balance and the correction is really a counter-balance. We live our lives at extremes, with projects, deadlines, and the need to make frequent adjustments. We can reduce the stress by accepting the truth and not beating ourselves up because we feel out of balance much of the time. Instead of bemoaning the lack of balance in your life, congratulate yourself for being on the path of great productivity.

6. Big is bad.

If you fear Big Success, you will either avoid it, or sabotage your efforts to achieve it. Think of the dreams you had 20 years ago. Where are those now? Were they too big? Not big enough? Listen, you living a small life does the world no good! I will encourage you to go Big by focusing in on the small things that build you a BIG Life. Only Living BIG will let you experience your true life and work potential. Don’t let your small thinking cut you down to size, hold you back, or hinder you from living a BIG and wonderful life.