The Real Truth About Lying

The first big lie is that there are levels of lying, that lower level, little lies don’t really matter. They do matter and here’s why: lying becomes habit forming, especially those little lies you tell yourself.

They matter because little lies grow into big lies, those little lies also multiply, quickly growing beyond your control. The very first lie you tell will almost guarantee another lie somewhere down the road. The next lie is always bigger than the last but no lie is big enough to hide the truth forever, sooner or later the truth will prevail. 

Sometimes people lie to “protect” others or to “protect” a relationship but the truth is they’re likely really just protecting themselves. They can’t fully explain the truth so they just find it easier to lie. Most lies are “self” motivated, meaning you lie for yourself but you’ll never see that until you’re honest with yourself. That’s how the cycle of lying begins and once it begins it’s very hard to stop.

The truth about lying is that it’s incredibly expensive. It often costs the liar far more than it costs the person lied to. Unless of course the person you have lied to is yourself; that is the most expensive lie of all.

When you lie to yourself you steal your opportunity for success, lies take your motivation to give your best effort away. They give you permission to fail. When you lie to yourself you no longer feel obligated to accept responsibility for your actions. When you tell yourself “you’ve done all that you can” when in fact you know in your heart that you haven’t, then you steal your own opportunity to reach your full potential. 

There are no lies more damaging than the lies you tell yourself because the fact is, if you’re lying to yourself you’re lying to everyone else too. 

That doesn’t mean however that it’s okay to lie to others as long as you’re honest with yourself. Lying to anyone is damaging to your integrity. In business, in relationships, and in life there is no greater asset to have than integrity. 

Without integrity you instantly lose the ability to lead. If your people can’t trust you they won’t follow you. If your people can’t believe you they won’t believe in you. If they don’t believe in you they find it hard to believe anything you say. That makes it pretty tough to truly lead. 

When you lie you lose relationships. Real relationships, every real relationship is built on trust. That’s why when you lie to “protect” a relationship you’re almost always doing more damage in the long run. It may be easier for you in the short-term but if you really want to protect the relationship then tell the truth from the beginning. 

Not only do lies damage relationships with others, if you lie long enough and you even lose yourself. 

When you simply tell the truth, every time, you have much less to remember. There is no need to remember who you told what because you told everyone the same thing. Telling the truth sets you free from the worry of “slipping up” and having to tell another lie to hide the last one. 

One more thing for the doubters reading this: if you don’t believe you’re smart enough to be able to tell the truth without offending people then you’re most definitely lying to yourself. Set yourself free and tell the truth, you’re smart enough to do that.

13 thoughts on “The Real Truth About Lying

    1. Yep, sooner or later, often we when least expect it, the truth is somehow set free. Often at great embarrassment to the person who didn’t share it in the first place.

  1. Reblogged this on Musings of John and commented:
    Lying always feels like the easiest path in the short-term. It is never, however, the right path as it will always catch up with you in the end. Choose the simplicity of the honest life, both to yourself and to others. You will find joy and happiness that is not possible when living a life filled with lies.

  2. Thirty years ago, I worked in the financial industry – banking. I remember once, there was a study that demonstrated bankers were the third most trusted individuals. I think number 1 was “mom”. Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because how things change.

    It can take years to build credibility and trust, but only moments to lose it. I say, guard your integrity as it’s your most precious asset because it really is.

    1. You’re certainly right about that. Years of “integrity building” can go down the drain in seconds with one careless decision.

      Integrity truly is the bedrock of success in business and in life. You either have integrity 100% of the time or you do not have integrity.

  3. Little lies are like little foxes. Someday they’ll grow to be big foxes, leave the den and you won’t be able to contain them.

  4. Hi Steve, this is one of those articles I wish I could make mandatory reading in middle school where the habit of lying really begins to get entrenched.

    T. Harv Ecker has a saying “how you do one thing is how you do everything”! Integrity lives in the big decision and the small ones as you point out.

  5. This is one of those articles I wish was mandatory for middle schoolers! Lying is a habit that often develops from insecurity and fear of consequences vs. mal-intent. T Harv Ecker has a saying that fits for the message here “how you do one thing is how you do everything”.

    1. It’s very true, kids learn young the “apparent” advantages of lying. What they don’t learn until much later is the incredible cost of being caught in a lie.

      Sadly some adults think lying leads to prosperity and it might, for a short while. We people see liars getting ahead they fool themselves into believing lying is the way to go. By the time they discover that it isn’t their credibility is gone. Once it’s gone it is a long slow difficult process to recover it.

  6. Whenever I’m faced with a crisis or faux pas, I remember the formula of Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, which is: Tell It All, Tell It Early, Tell It Yourself

    Following this formula will make the crisis go away quicker. Plus, people will have more respect for you.

    1. That’s a good formula, I wonder if the marketing and management teams at Target have ever heard of Lanny Davis.

      The slow stream of bits and bits of info is not serving that great company. They are giving us all a lesson in bad Public Relations but trying to shade the truth.

      It never works and yet people and businesses continue to try.

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