Identifying, Understanding Why People Lie

Why Do People Lie?

I was talking to our marketing consultant and she asked me a really important question,” why do people lie?” Well, I could tell you anytime I see myself bull***tting I know it’s because I feel insecure and I haven’t accepted myself and I’m trying to sell myself. If you think about it, this is really a big issue. Lying is a major issue and we need to understand why people lie in order to minimize it.

There are significant stats on lying. One study says 100% of dating couples lie; 50% of high school student say they cheated on tests. It’s becoming, I suspect, a bigger problem today than it was in my parents’ time. Appearances have always been important, but I think we live so vulnerably and so out of touch with ourselves. Why do people lie when making excuses?


Identifying Why People Lie

When I say I’m late because of traffic, that’s a lie. I didn’t plan soon enough. I had the best experience of this over 20 years ago. I was late for a client session. I said, I’m really sorry, something… And he said, if I were president would you be late? If you say you can’t do it, and someone offers you a million dollars, could you do it? It’s a lie that you can’t do it. It’s just not that important to you. He wasn’t important enough to me to be there on time.

I’ve been working on cutting excuses and being authentic. I was actually pretty indelicate. I was up at my cousin’s funeral celebration service. I had a cousin die, and it was premature, and I felt like a third wheel and out of place. After the service they had a fun run in his honor because he was a triathlete. I was talking to them, I had told them earlier that I wanted them to know I was with them. We haven’t been that close. He asked me, I said I would be taking off. They said you have to go? I said, no, I don’t have to go, but I’m going. It was a jerky thing to do. I just felt like oh man, that was pretty harsh, I wish I’d lied. I think what we need is a sense of humor and to know we’re all liars, and that we’re working towards being more genuine and authentic, because we’re not going to have very loving relationships if we aren’t.

Do We Know Why People Lie So Much?

why people lieYou know I really hate why people lie. Don’t you hate bull***t artists too? What is it that really bugs us about liars? They’re always playing an angle and trying to get something. I recently ran into one and I was trying to think about what it was that I hated about it, and you know what I hated, I hated myself. I didn’t just straight out say, who the fuck are you kidding.

The thing I hate about liars is that I don’t always call them on it, and I tolerate them. How often are we bull***tting when we talk to a liar and were sitting there thinking that they’re bull***tting and we’re bull***tting at the very same time.

I was talking to my staff and I was really going to our mission and how important it is to empower individuals and how I think that critical thinking is something that’s dead in the United States. I’m was talking about the political process and how I don’t see a lot of honesty and authenticity in it. Our mission is to help people have the courage to stand out and say what’s true even in the face of potential rejection. I’m not proud of a lot of our students in that.

We had a staff member who sat there kind of silently the whole time. I thought, oh man, she’s really looking down on me. I felt really vulnerable. I was talking about things that matter deeply to me. I was tearful a few times as I talked about it. She just looked stock still. I’m going man, I’m dead. I went into her office after, and asked, how did you feel about what I was saying. And she said, I was really embarrassed because I didn’t understand half of your references. It was like I could have kissed her because I felt really vulnerable but look how vulnerable she was.

She said, I just thought I wasn’t smart enough. I think in my own insecurity I look to sound smart and to say stuff. That she was so genuine and authentic to tell me that with the vulnerability – she’s a new employee, and to feel that vulnerability was such a wonderful gift. The contrast of her decency, personal responsibility with me and willingness to talk about her emotions was a thing of absolute and total beauty; I was humbled. I had been in tears, I was talking about what matters to me, but at the same time there’s probably a level that I was being unnecessarily abstract. What I want to do is to celebrate her and the power of what she said. I consider her a beacon of authenticity and I was just inspired.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

A Look at Where Your Leadership is Heading

I just attended the funeral of my younger cousin, which has me questioning a lot about life, how I am living it, my purpose, my leadership.

Then I received a lovely acknowledgment from one of our graduate students who has been recognized as a leader and asked to help make a significant cultural shift in a major global firm to start my Easter Sunday. I really appreciated the acknowledgment and appreciative comments he sent to me. It was his email to me that spurred me to write this blog.

The email was especially touching given my state of soul-searching after the funeral yesterday in northern Wisconsin. My cousin and his family were, and are, the Leave it to Beaver family in real life and it has caused me to introspect a good deal. He was, and his brother, sister, and their wives and children are, everything most people think people should be. They are a very warm, alive, circle of Midwestern morality. They are all truly lovely people.

Questioning Leadership

As I look at and question my life, my story, and purpose are very different (schools in Germany, France, student strikes, activism, etc.), and my direction of leadership has a different focus. I believe that we are all leading all the time, and the question is, toward what are we leading? For me, I look at how leadership relates to consciousness and national, and global, responsibility. I look at stretching and fully developing my potential and the potential of all I touch as a responsibility for the advancement of humanity and sustainable, conscious living on our planet. My cousin led in different ways. He was legitimately warm, loving, friendly, a great teacher, Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry, and professor at UW-Stevens Point slated to retire this spring, jokester, loving husband, father of successful children, beloved friend to the community, and so much more. He taught critical thinking, was a sensitive listener, and an important force in the lives of those he led. We can certainly say that peoples’ lives were better for his being in them. He was a true blessing to his community and significant community leader.

His example is daunting. We are clearly different. I am nowhere near as neat and buttoned-down. My questions and concerns are driven by continued lifelong development and ultimately to human potential. In our work, these questions are essential for all of us to answer, toward what are we leading? As I think about the direction of leadership, I think about the state of the state, the country, the poor, and so much more. I am sure my cousin did too and saw his teaching and parenthood as his contribution in those directions.

I am reminded of when I went to school in Germany in 1968. My world exploded. My mind was blown to learn of the Black Panthers, the Chicago School of Architecture, and student strikes. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been shot and I didn’t really appreciate the enormity of that. From my country upbringing (now suburban), we lived an isolated existence as our post-WWll parents sought their ideal, and the ideal my uncle and cousins
have attained. They are surprised that at 65 I am still working hard and praying to G-d to let me keep going to 80 and have the graduate university at a sustainable, self-developing, self-organizing level so it can continue without me to bring together the best in human emergence methodologies and empower leaders in all areas to bring rational, mutual, decent, sustainable living to all people, plants, animals, and the planet.

Where Is The Direction of Leadership Heading?

Is retirement the aim? Is it enough to lead companies to throw off profit, even if it is socially sustainable using sustainable materials? Aren’t we here for more? Isn’t there still so much more to learn until we have lived on this planet together right? What do you choose? I wonder if a comfortable retirement is enough. Unless we are in the trades and legitimately wear our bodies out, can’t you see retirement as an aberration? How do you want to die? Wouldn’t you rather die with your boots on?

Stop and examine your life and the direction of leadership around you. Are you headed in the right direction?

Questions One Should Ask about the Direction of Your Leadership

I invite you to join me in my questions. Toward what are you aiming? Toward what are you leading, for what are you burning? How do you spend your daily life? What risks are you avoiding and how does the environment in which you lead invite others to take risks, tell the truth, learn, grow, and develop?

Please don’t think I am being a bleeding heart. I think our job is to know and take full responsibility for ourselves and to provide for ourselves and others. I am hugely skeptical of bleeding heart ventures to “save or help others.” Too many of these folks are not helping and saving themselves—they don’t see that they are projecting their own denied selves out and then dealing with themselves externally, thereby compounding the mess they purport to clean up. I am not saying all do-gooders, simply too many, so if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it, but if you find yourself feeling defensive, ask what you are defending that you are not comfortable within yourself. Same if you are fixated on money for a comfortable retirement with a life focused on the golf course and nothing else.

The question for us to ask ourselves is not “What are we fixing?” The question is, “… to what are we leading and who are we as we lead?”


To harness more of your leadership potential, please explore our courses on Wright Now. We offer an array of interactive resources to help you learn more about your relationships, your career, and yourself. If you’re ready to start living a life of MORE, there’s no better time than now!

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

Transformational Leadership:
What’s Your Career Vision &
Why It’s Important

What is your career vision—do you consider yourself a transformational leader? Here is why transformational leadership and career vision are important.

I recently wrote a blog on a talk I gave to CEOs, where we reviewed ourselves against the attributes of transformational leaders as presented in the seminal book on the subject, Transformational Leadership by Bass and Riggio. It seemed to me that the same should be true of establishing a transformational vision. Do you have a transformational career vision? Do you know that it has nothing to do with what you do, but rather how you do it? First of all,  you are always a leader. At my talk, the CEOs assessed themselves on a number of transformational leadership variables. We define leadership as the influence we have on others in what they think, do, and feel.

I suggest modifying your career vision to make it your own, measure yourself against it, and ask people to rate you on it. I am a dependable, uplifting, can-do presence on whom my co-workers count. I take initiative, keep the mission of the company and co-workers in mind. I ask questions, learn, grow, and get better all the time. People trust me and I trust them unless they prove untrustworthy, in which case, I deal with it.

This might be a career parallel to what Bass and Riggio call inspirational motivation. They assert that transformational leaders have a clear vision and a career aspiration that they are able to articulate to followers. These leaders are also able to help followers experience the same passion and motivation to fulfill these goals. Rate yourself on how fully you live the vision statement I gave you above: 5=Impeccable, 4= close to impeccable, 3=Excellent, 2=Well, 1=I’m embarrassed, 0= I don’t want to talk about it.

Most career folks over-rate themselves. I am going to give you a little more on what I wrote on the CEO transformational leadership blog. Early in careers, before you have supervised others, it is hard to get perspective. Consider asking your boss to rate you against his or her ideal. If your company has 360-degree feedback, all the better. The group of leaders was really honest, and most of the self-ratings were at 3 or below. There were a number of 1’s and a few 2’s. I rated myself a 1. Our company vision at Wright is clearly articulated.

My Company’s Career Vision

My employees know our vision and are 100% behind it and our goals—ask any of them and you will hear a similar answer, individualized by the employee’s personal perspective. We repeat the company purpose and vision at the beginning of each staff meeting. Despite that, I rate myself a 1: “I am embarrassed.” We site our mission at the beginning of every meeting: “Our purpose is to live spectacular lives and to support others to unleash their potential by consciously engaging in their own transformation and leadership, for the advancement of humanity and conscious, sustainable living on the planet.”  

As I reflect on it, there are a lot of holes in our realization of this mission—we haven’t blown it out into a full vision statement. We don’t yet really ask ourselves about the purpose as it translates to all areas of client certainty at the level we could. For example, I don’t have my people thinking about our vision when they answer the phone every time. But it’s a really cool thing to reach for. In the realm of vision, we have not extended it sufficiently into every corner of our business.

Crafting a Personal Career Vision

Build a career vision – based on a solid and achievable career aspiration – of how you will be as a worker, team member, leader, and overall great human being and really work for it. The cool part of my job as a speaker, coach, and consultant is that as I prepare a talk etc., I get to look at my strengths and weaknesses. Every bit of coaching and training I do requires that I look honestly at myself. To be effective in our business, we stretch toward ideals that are never realbut they are the yardsticks against which we measure ourselves and that toward which we stretch, as well as the foundation for us to develop skills and refine our vision. If you are interested, I will send you some of our feedback mechanisms for all our team members to help you build your personal career vision.

So, this blog is an invitation for you to stretch yourself to your ideal career vision and measure yourself against the gaps, recognizing the skills you need to develop to realize the vision. Ask for feedback and learn to cut down defensiveness. If you are defensive, people will stop coaching you and mentors will not show interest in you. Understand the function of a career vision is just thisto stretch ourselves to our potential, not to be at rest at what we are. As a result, be sure to be inspired by the embarrassing gaps and use the exercise to move forward. Use your vision and feedback to compel you to further develop your career vision, and be sure that your vision fits into every corner of what you dorelationships, service, and how you will develop in the future.

A few checkpoints for you at first: do you have a clear mission/purpose statement? If not, let me know and we can discuss, and I can send you a link for a copy of my 1995 book on work and purpose, but it works for all your life. This will really be a foundation for your vision statement—we generally develop vision personally before developing vision in our seminars. Be sure to be honest with yourself as you fill out or develop your vision and measure yourself.

In future leadership blogs, I will address the distinction of mission versus purpose as we use the terms, and we will discuss ways to flesh out your career and life vision.

For more ways to discover your leadership potential, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Go for it now!

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.