How to Define Reality


Some believe repetition creates reality. For example, keep repeating, “I’m a great leader,” and you’ll become a great leader. In other words, lie to yourself enough and you’ll believe a lie.

Words aren’t magic fairy dust. You can’t sprinkle them on tough situations and poof, they vanish. Words don’t turn pumpkins into carriages.

Saying something’s true in order to make it true is self-delusion.

Leaders lie when they:

  1. Minimize problems.
  2. Pretend things are better than they are.
  3. Ignore hard truths and tough situations.
  4. Believe self-perception is accurate.


New realities begin when current reality is defined. Lousy leaders step toward great leadership when they admit they suck.

Work, not words, creates new realities.

Courage and definition:

The ability to define reality – to see and name what is seen – requires courage.

Courage is:

  1. Not assuming you know, but asking obvious questions.
  2. Exploring the success of others with openness.
  3. Taking responsibility rather than blaming.
  4. Explaining your contribution or lack of contribution.
  5. Identifying failures, successes, strengths, and weaknesses.

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.
Max Dupree

Defining reality isn’t creating reality.

Defining reality is explaining what is, not what is hoped for.

Optimism and definition:

Defining reality is a start, but hope takes first steps. Apart from hope – the belief you can change something – dark realities defeat.

Optimism is a daily thing.

Determine the big picture but focus on where you’re going today. Big dreams defeat, if they aren’t broken down into daily work.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Courage and hope enable leaders to define reality.

How do leaders lie to themselves?

What promotes optimism?