“Lies beget other lies. Unlike statements of fact, which require no further work on our part, lies must be continually protected from collisions with reality. When you tell the truth, you have nothing to keep track of.” – Sam Harris
There I was on a bench at Centennial Park in Nashville, TN overlooking the world’s only full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, reading a Kindle book called Lying by Sam Harris, and nodding my head in agreement after every turn.
I had just posted a very honest article 2 weeks prior and hadn’t posted anything since. September 2011 would go on to be the only month in the history of this blog that I didn’t post a single article. I’d been second-guessing myself about being so honest about how I felt on that particular topic and if I should continue that trend. I questioned whether it was the right thing to do for myself and my future. As much support as I received on the article I still felt a bit at-odds.
I knew then that I needed to do 2 things:
- Write about the eBook Lying. If I could send it to everybody in the world I would. (I did send a copy to my friend Markus because I knew he’d appreciate it.)
- Get more uncomfortable more often. Be more honest.
Prior to reading Lying I’d been inspired by James Altucher. James is so open on his blog you’d think nobody would ever do business with the man. I would, and obviously other people do as well. (Note: This article was written before James posted this article about honesty yesterday. Crazy, huh?)
“Honesty is a gift we can give to others.” – Sam Harris
The last few articles I’ve posted I’ve written things I was actually scared to post publicly. Most of the reactions have been exceptionally positive.
Here’s a bit of revelation: It doesn’t actually matter what I think or what anybody else thinks about what I think. That realization was very freeing.
A lot of people hide behind lies white and otherwise because it’s seemingly bad for business. When your goal isn’t to squeeze every possible penny out of everybody this no longer matters.
I’m intelligent enough to know that I’m intelligent enough to make things happen no matter the barriers set before me. I’m also intelligent enough to know that by being honest I could be consciously placing obstacles in my way. Maybe these obstacles make it more difficult, maybe they don’t. More than likely these obstacles are just figments of my imagination.
Most online personas are fake. What we write and who we are diverge completely because we tell ourselves, “I can’t get anywhere if anybody found out the truth.”
But it’s not relegated to just online personas. Most personas are fake.
Sometimes I’m out and I think, “There is no way the online Karol would act like this or do this. Quit being a baby.”
We (I’m at fault here as much as anybody) hide specific things and highlight (or “white lie”) certain aspects about life or our pasts or our businesses because it’s supposedly good for the girls/guys we’re dating or trying to date, the employer we’re trying to impress, or to attract more clients to our business.
The Bullshit Industry
There are whole books, seminars, and training courses devoted to this art of persuasion & presentation. The best, maybe only, way to combat it is to study it yourself. You can’t know it’s happening to you except when you know it’s happening to you. And when you know it’s happening the fog you didn’t even know was there breaks up and you see things clearly. (I’ll talk more about persuasion this coming Monday.)
Interestingly, we all know lying sucks. White lies like, “Oh, yeah, that shirt looks great on you” when it really doesn’t. And more hurtful lies like, “No, I’ve never cheated” or “I’ll never do it again.” They may not all hold equal weight, but they’re all problematic.
“The moment we consider our dishonesty from the point of view of those we lie to, we recognize that we would feel betrayed if the roles were reversed.” – Sam Harris
It makes it that much more difficult to lie when we think about it like that. I know I won’t always tell the whole truth, but I’m much more conscious of it now. Particularly of the white lies that “don’t matter.”
I’ve already quoted Sam Harris to high heaven so let’s end with another:
“How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again? What truths might suddenly come into view in your life? What kind of person would you become? And how might you change the people around you? It is worth finding out.”
It is worth finding out, don’t you think?
In case it wasn’t clear in the previous 800 words, I think every thinking human being should read Lying by Sam Harris. (I get paid 20 cents if you buy it, no lie.)
Let’s try something. “Great article!” or “I agree!” type comments, while very much appreciated, don’t continue the conversation. Instead, if you have thoughts on the topic let us know. If you have questions, ask them. It’s also OK to stay quiet.