The lies we tell ourselves

Maybe a reason that change is so difficult is because of the lies we tell ourselves. The task of organizational change is incredibly difficult, far more so than that envisioned by some who suggest that changes to an organization’s strategy, structure, or processes will somehow magically result in a change of the organizational culture and climate.

While some success may occur in the short term, a true understanding of what’s behind organizational historical and developmental factors and an appreciation of the importance of both emotion and stormknowledge factors is required before any lasting improvements can be made. However, as we seek to understand the fundamentals of an organization’s personality, we must also hold the mirror up to our own personalities. The reason for this perhaps uncomfortable exercise is that our judgment of others’ performance is often based on our own expectations, which in turn are a reflection of our unique backgrounds, biases, and beliefs. But looking within, honestly looking within, is tricky business.

It is very difficult to see ourselves for who we are, because so much of our external behavior is not consciously available to us. We rarely see ourselves exactly as others see us, and how others see us is based on the unique lens through which they view the world, which in turn is influenced by their own historical and developmental influences, biases, backgrounds, and beliefs.

Depending on who we are–and especially who we think we are–the notion of seeing something different can be a very scary concept. It means exposing ourselves to truths that are hidden under multiple layers of protective lies, applied one small and one big lie at a time over many years, like successive layers of fine rice paper–white lies and gray lies and black lies that after many decades have become so enmeshed and protective, and especially so comforting to us, that we easily accept them as truth.

For us to change, for us to accept change in our workplace and in our lives, it is necessary to scrape away our multilayered protective shellac and to examine and understand what lies beneath. Sometimes, this can be painfully slow. And sometimes, we don’t like what is revealed. Which brings me to the following for your consideration.


The lies we tell ourselves are lighter than a secret whisper. Invisible, inaudible, improbable to us alone.

The lies we tell ourselves shape the lives we share with others, and soon lies and living and living lies, are one.

Inseparable, indistinguishable, invisible. To us alone. 

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