[706 words | 3 minute read]
You can lie to other people but you should never to yourself. That’s not to say you can’t—most of us do everyday. And by denying you’re guilty of this, you’re lying to yourself right now. Personal honesty is the only way to move forward and fulfill your potential.
What are the lies we tell ourselves? Let’s take a look at a few of the popular ones:
There’s no way I can do that.
Imagine you’re at the gym. It’s leg day. You’re in the middle of an six-rep set of barbell squats. The pain in your ass and thighs is incredible—but are you manufacturing some of it, mentally? The reality is, you could likely finish the set and even tack on a few extra reps. But because by nature we chase comfort, we seek—sometimes unconsciously—any excuse to eliminate discomfort. Even if we deliberately put ourselves in a given situation in the first place. You won’t be able to finish the set because you’ve already made up your mind about it.
I can’t do anything right.
Really? Anything? So you can’t calculate Pi to the sixteenth digit on your first try, but maybe you’re a fabulous writer. You were probably pretty lousy at the latter when you started, too. But you persevered. You stuck with it. And at some point, you got a better. It’s the same with everything else. When I first met my wife, she barely cooked and when she did it was awful. The woman could burn a glass of water. But eventually, after fighting through the frustration, she got better. It was through realizing the same principles of effort and perseverance applied to proficiency at cooking as they did to the rest of her acquired skillset.
Finally, here’s my favourite:
I don’t have enough time.
You’ve probably read the oft-reposted quote that you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce. I think you can even buy it on a T-shirt. And while it’s true no human has more hours in a given day than any other, that’s a poor example. Beyonce is a near-billionaire with a staff that would rival most medium-sized cities. She’s able to accomplish much more than the average person, because she has offloaded most or all of the daily tasks—including the offloading of daily tasks—with which many of us are saddled. She has also experienced exponentially greater success because of decades of hard work. You could get there, too. But you’ll need to put in the same twenty years she did.
See, it’s easy to become despondent. You may work eight hours a day and spend another two hours commuting. Maybe you have kids or take care of your parents. You feel exhausted all the time. And yet you still find time to waste. Don’t believe me? According to a Nielsen report, the average North American spends nearly eleven hours on screen time. Out of 168 hours in a week, over fifty are spent on mobile devices. You have more than enough time to spend chasing your dreams or simply finishing a half-read novel. Instead, you’re choosing to spend it scrolling through social media. One use of your time is not necessarily objectively better than another—it’s up to you to define your priorities.
Lying to yourself puts you at a disadvantage, because you intentionally blind yourself to reality. This isn’t a directive to self-abuse and nitpick every single one of your faults, but rather to realize that your capacity for achievement is far greater than most are willing to admit. Why? Because by accepting the reality of vast potential, you’re also accepting the possibility of wasted potential.
In each of the above examples, there is a desire to avoid trying or to quickly give up. Both are deeply rooted in a fear of failure. By first admitting you fear failure and doing everything in your power to succeed—every time you want or need to attempt something—you can feel confident knowing, whatever the outcome, you were honest with yourself. And if you do fail, know that eventually you won’t.