5 Symptoms of Self-Deception That Trap Unsuspecting Leaders

“The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.” Hannah More

The belief that you never lie to yourself means you’re trapped by self-deception.

Dangers of self-deception:

#1. Self-deception limits potential. Growth depends on self-awareness.

Self-deception is the opposite of self-awareness.

#2. Self-deception weakens relationships. Self-deception justifies itself and attacks others.

“We do not deal much in fact when we are contemplating ourselves.” Mark Twain

Abstract painting of feathers.

The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.

5 symptoms of self-deception:

#1. Imposter syndrome.

A successful person who believes they’re lucky, but not also competent is self-deceived. It’s self-deception to selectively choose evidence to prove lies about yourself.

#2. Impulsive reactions.

A person who justifies thoughtless knee-jerk reactions is cloaked in a fog of self-deception.

#3. Lack of concern for others.

Someone who says they don’t care what others think or feel is likely walking in a fog of self-deception.

It takes more strength to open your mind than close it.

#4. Justification of bullying.

If you’re proud of pressuring people against their will, you think self-destructive behaviors are beneficial. That’s self-deception.

#5. Everyone is wrong.

When everyone is wrong, you are wrong but can’t see it.

10 ways to look self-deception in the eye:

  1. Stay open to the possibility that you’re lying to yourself.
  2. When two or three of your friends see something detrimental in your life, believe them.
  3. Corrective feedback isn’t always wrong.
  4. Evaluate yourself by your purpose and values, not resistance, fear, or defensiveness.
  5. Acknowledge the insight and skill of others.
  6. When you’re pushing back ask, “How am I making the world better?”
  7. Set achievable short-term goals. Do something YOU can achieve.
  8. Say, “I was wrong.” The person who is never wrong is wrong.
  9. Focus on self-development BEFORE other-development.
  10. Build relationships with mentors. (See the following video.)

Jenn Lim is CEO and cofounder at Delivering Happiness and author of, “Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact.” (I recommend you take a look.)

What symptoms of self-deception do you notice?

How might leaders navigate the challenge of self-deception?