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The Worst Lies

Words are rudders. 

The most powerful words you say are the ones you say to yourself.


The worst lies you tell are the ones you tell yourself.

Self-deception blocks authentic leadership.


  1. Grants permission to ignore tough feedback and propagates stagnation. You don’t have the problem, they do. You’re deceiving yourself if tough feedback is always off base.
  2. Encourages superiority illusion. The Dunning-Kruger effect states that incompetent people substantially overestimate their abilities. Self-deceived leaders think they’re the most competent person in the room.
  3. Promotes blame. If you’re so competent, then someone else must be at fault when things go badly. Self-deception allows you to say “I” when things go well and “you” when it hits the fan.

7 answers for self-deception:

#1. Assume you are deceiving yourself. If you aren’t deceiving yourself, you aren’t human.

#2. Actively practice humility. The reason it’s healthy to practice humility is arrogance is a form of self-deception.

#3. Realize your strengths have a dark side. If you’re great at asking questions, you don’t give enough direction. If you’re great at getting things done, you unintentionally walk on people. If you’re great at follow through, you might be a stubborn jerk.

#4. Tell others what you’re learning. Did you learn something while reading a book? Tell your team.

#5. Use phrases that express vulnerability.

  1. “I didn’t know that.” Don’t pretend you knew when you didn’t.
  2. “I was wrong.” If you can’t remember the last time you acknowledged being wrong, you’re living in self deception.
  3. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
  4. “Wow! That’s a great idea.”
  5. “I screwed up.” If you aren’t making mistakes, you’re playing it too safe.

Bonus: Say, “Tell me more,” when receiving tough feedback.

If you can think of five people who need this post, but you aren’t one of them, you’re telling yourself lies.

What are some symptoms of self-deception?

How might leaders deal with self-deception?


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