Are You Telling Yourself the Truth

“Liars, Bigger Liars and d’em that figure.” An uncle often used this expression when knocking politicians and accountants. This week his words resonated with me as it seems everyone is accusing everyone else of either not telling the truth or lying by omission. The political debate is more about denying what is not true than defending it. Wall Streeters and their customers are accusing financial leaders of painting a rosy picture based more on hope than fact. And of course there are always a few celebrities using or doing something totally addictive and illegal, denying to magazines where fact checking is a part-time distraction, that anything is wrong.

All of this made me reflect on my own honesty and the trust I give to others. It became clear to me that with the exception of true pathological liars (and I worked for a few of them in my corporate days) most of us have to first deceive ourselves before we can convincingly mislead others. Now there’s an opportunity! You know when you want something really bad or wish it were different than it is. I can hear myself saying, “elevated cholesterol is over dramatized and a risk dreamed up by the drug companies” or “everyone drives above the speed limit plus 10 mph, it’s just as safe.” I don’t have to get too insightful to know I am kidding myself; however, the pull, the want and desire, for a different outcome is just so compelling. This dishonesty is really self-sabotage and risky behavior.

Risky career behavior is what I see with many of my coaching clients, particularly when it comes to the topic of job security. It’s very easy to ignore the facts and deny the signals while telling yourself “everything is fine, it’ll all work out.” So the company is having a shaky year, the top guy suddenly left, penny pinching is paramount, and pressure to deliver “right now” is increasing. You see others getting the plum assignments and greater recognition, your boss is never available and all of a sudden they’re saying you don’t do anything right. How did you become so stupid so fast? Though it may not be true that you are not qualified for the work, these are warning flags and you have the choice of making up a soothing, motivating story and covering up the truth, or face reality and do something. It is harder than it sounds but not impossible to make happen.

One of the powerful outcomes of coaching is that it helps the person being coached differentiate between facts and beliefs, beliefs and desires, and the truth vs. ideas. I can’t and won’t tell someone to leave their job but I can help them read the exit signs, clearly and dispassionately. What I also don’t do is tell my clients things they want to hear, when in fact, it is either not the truth or not really the crux of the problem.

The best mentors I’ve had have helped me own my actions and thoughts. They rarely questioned what I believed but challenged my logic or facts. In a sense, they kept me honest with myself and fostered this honesty in my work with others. It is the mature way to live life. It’s also easier—go figure.

Here’s your challenge: Look at those areas of your life, including your career, where you are deceiving yourself through minimization, denial, or need/desire. Ask yourself, “How is this useful?” and “What price am I paying for this?” Think of two other ways of acting or thinking that would help you operate with integrity. “What would be the outcome if I really was honest with myself?” 

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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