Who are the greatest deceivers in your life? Who are the ones most likely to lead you astray? The answer may surprise you.

In his book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, Part II (opens in a new link), the late Og Mandino says:

“No person is ever so much deceived by another, as by himself. The coward is convinced that he is only being cautious and the miser always thinks he is practicing frugality. Nothing is so easy as to deceive oneself since what we wish is always easy to believe.”

As I read this passage I wondered: How often have I deceived myself? The short answer is: often and regularly…although less so these days. Here are a few examples of how I deceived myself.

I played basketball in elementary school. The coach told my dad that I’d play more often if I were more aggressive. I told myself that I was “just playing by the rules.” The reality is that I am not a physically aggressive person, nor am I sufficiently motivated to win at sports to give much thought to how I could be more aggressive and still remain within the rules.

In high school, I felt that I lacked confidence because I was shy and insecure when interacting with others. The reality was that I placed too much emphasis on what others thought of me. If I had truly lacked confidence, I couldn’t have excelled in my studies and other areas of interest.

When I started my business providing part-time CFO services, I looked around and found that the most successful consultants all used presentations to generate business. Recalling my college days in which I struggled to get a C- in my speech class, I feared that I would not be successful employing this strategy. During the first course I taught, I gained two new clients…one was a client for 13 years.

I’m sharing my experiences to illustrate the fact that we are all deceivers of ourselves. The question is “How do we stop deceiving ourselves?”

For you

The key to any change is awareness. Recall some of the impressions you’ve had of yourself that later proved to be inaccurate. Recall the impact that had on you prior to your realization and how that impact changed when you altered your behavior after having gained awareness. These two steps will solidify your awareness that you deceive yourself.

Next, identify ways in which you currently label yourself. Consider how this is impacting your behavior…especially the choices you’re making. Then identify the self-deception that is limiting you the most and develop a more productive behavior to employ.

Once you’ve identified a more productive behavior:

  • Shortly after rising, remind yourself that you are no longer a deceiver…that you’re are going to behave congruently with your newfound realization of what your behavior should be.
  • Shortly before retiring, recall your successes during the day. Then recall those instances in which you weren’t as successful as you’d hoped and decide what you’ll do differently in the future.

Continue this practice for at least a week. You’ll be amazed at how your new way of thinking, and behaving, have become automatic…your default way of thinking and behaving. Then choose the next self-deception you want to correct and apply the same exercise to it. You’ll find that life is much easier when you stop being your own deceiver.

For our kids

When kids denigrate, or overly celebrate, some aspect of who they are, share with them Og Mandino’s message. It’ll open their eyes to the reality that deceiving ourselves is a natural tendency…one that does not serve us well. Then share with them the daily practice outlined above.

Better yet, take a few minutes each day to compare notes on what each of you are striving to accomplish with the exercise, share the successes you’re enjoying and lessons learned when you weren’t as successful as you’d hoped. You’ll not only experience the joy of each other’s success, you’ll create a bond that you’ll both enjoy for the rest of your lives.

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Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Og Mandino has been a major influence in how I see my role in the selling equation. His salesperson’s creed keeps me motivated every day to do my best:

    Salesperson’s Creed

    Today I begin a new life – I will form good habits and become their slaves.
    I will begin to awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before. My vigor will increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed it possible in this world of strife and sorrow.

    Today I will multiply my value a hundred fold.
    Today I will surpass every action which I performed yesterday. To surpass the deeds of others is unimportant; to surpass my own deeds is all. I will always announce my goals to the world, yet, never will I proclaim my accomplishments.

    I will act now.
    My dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible. All are of no value unless they are followed by action. I will not avoid the tasks of today and charge them to tomorrow for I know that tomorrow never comes. Let me act now even though my actions may not bring happiness or success, for it is better to act and fail than not to act and flounder.

    I will persist until I succeed!
    Never will I allow any day to end with a failure. Thus will I plant the seed of tomorrow’s success and gain an insurmountable advantage over those who cease their labor at a prescribed time. When others cease their struggle, then mine will begin, and my harvest will be full….I will forget the happenings of the day that is gone, whether they were good or bad, and greet the sun with confidence that this will be the best day of my life.

    I will laugh at the world.
    And with my laughter all things will be reduced to their proper size. I will laugh at my failures and they will vanish in clouds of new dreams; I will laugh at my successes and they will shrink to their true value. Each day will be triumphant only when my smiles bring forth smiles from others.

    I am nature’s greatest miracle.
    Nevermore will I be satisfied with yesterday’s accomplishments, nor will I indulge, any more, in self- praise for deeds, which in reality, are too small to even acknowledge. I can accomplish far more than I have, and I will, for why should the miracle which produced me end with birth? Why can I not extend that miracle to my deeds of today? I will concentrate my energy on the challenge of the moment and my actions will help me forget all else.

    I will live this day as if it were my last!
    I have but one life and life is naught but a measurement of time. When I waste one, I destroy the other. If I waste today I destroy the last page of my life. Therefore, each hour of this day will I cherish for it will never return.

    Today I will master my emotions.
    Henceforth, I will recognize and identify the mystery of moods in all humankind, and in me. From this moment I am prepared to control whatever personality awakes in me each day. I will master my moods through positive actions and when I master my moods I will control my destiny.

    I will greet this day with love in my heart.
    If I have no other qualities I can succeed with love alone. Without it, I will fail though I possess all the knowledge and skills of the world.

    I will not tolerate deceit!
    The truth may be untimely or distorted, but it can never be wrong.

    • dfurtwengler

      Bill, thanks for sharing these inspiring, heart-warming messages with us. I know that you live the creed and that many have benefitted from you doing so. Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place.

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