I have ceased to be amazed at our ability to fool ourselves.

We may have the greatest bullsh*t detector in the world when it comes to other people and/or businesses we interact with, but when it comes to recognizing our OWN BS, we are inherently flawed.

And, what’s worse, our ability to fool ourselves (that is, believe our own lies), persists not just in trivial matters but can be large and seriously detrimental in our lives as well as our businesses….

For example, how many of us have started an exercise or diet program and during the process, truly believed that we were making progress even though there was evidence to the contrary?

(Be honest, now. No one is reading your thoughts. 🙂

Perhaps we intended to lose a bit of our ‘belly’. During the process, how often did we convince ourselves that indeed, our waist was getting smaller but, we did not have to go out and buy new pants with a reduced waist size?

Now this is, perhaps, a trivial example. But the fact is, in our businesses there are many times that we persist with a belief of momentum, sales traction, growth even when there is evidence to the contrary.

In some cases, we will persist these beliefs to the point of extreme failure because we fool ourselves for so long that the damage becomes irreparable.

In my own research into why we are so good at this, and without going into too much of the science behind it, the simple reason is that we construct our own reality in our minds.

When information is coming to us from ‘outside’ of ourselves (from other people, external situations) we match it to our own constructed reality. And when it doesn’t match, our BS alarm goes off.

However, when the information/ideas are created within our own mind, they already neatly ‘fit’ into our construct of reality.

We can basically weave the fabrications, lies or fantasies into our construct of reality (our ‘truth’) and accept them. (For those of you familiar with Napoleon Hill’s writings, this is his concept of auto-suggestion. As he states, this can be used to good or bad effect).

Now before anyone jumps up to say “But I KNOW when I am fibbing to myself..!“, I must point out that you are right! (generally)

This fact, unfortunately, works against us because as we accept the belief that we know the truth (deep down), its easy for us to pass over taking action against the fabrication.

In other words, since we believe that we know the truth, we feel that we will correct ourselves. But, generally, we let it slide precisely because of this thought process.

To illustrate this point, I suggest thinking about a time in your daily life where you had a specific goal/action you said you were going to take today. But, due to other commitments, interruptions, when it was late in the day, you were tired, etc., you said to yourself that “Well, it didn’t really need to be done today…I’ll do it tomorrow“.

Now deep down, you KNOW it needed to be done today, but, as no one is ‘looking’, you convinced yourself that you could let yourself slide. Wham! You just fooled yourself. 🙂

You may be thinking “Well, its alright, we all do it. It doesn’t have any real impact on our lives or businesses”.

WRONG! I have seen businesses fail (and there are many examples that you can find) because of owners/entrepreneurs believing ‘vanity metrics’. I have personally missed opportunities because of this human flaw. I have worked with many business owners that did not succeed due to not taking steps to counter this basic human frailty.

So…How do we combat/protect ourselves and our businesses from the fact that we, ourselves, are blind to our own tricks?

I have found that there are two main ways to counteract our ability to fool ourselves: Setting up accountability for ourselves and creating objective measurements which we agree to take and act on as ‘truth’ (despite our own perspective.

Setting Up Personal Accountability

This is as simple as telling another person what your goals and plans are for a specific time period. And then reporting (honestly) back to the person on whether you did or did not do them.

If you have experience in working out, this is why having someone else (a workout buddy) with you will help you get a better workout.

The simple act of exposing your plans and reporting on them to someone else provides the little bit of ‘accountability’ that helps prevent the little slips/fabrications that we allow ourselves.

If you are starting/running your own business, this is imperative. As you may be ‘going it alone’,  this is an area that is too easily overlooked and therefore can potentially prevent progression, success or even cause outright failure.

Many of you may be familiar with the concept of ‘daily/weekly’ reports if working with a mentor. For the business people in my Next Steps course and consulting, I require/request a ‘weekly’ report. This is for their benefit as this simple action helps them, as my clients can attest, keep more focused and more likely to complete their stated goals. (It also helps us recognize those areas where we have had trouble with fooling ourselves and we can take steps to get rid of those entrenched habits).

If you are not doing this yet, you need to start.

It does not matter who you chose to report to: It can be your significant other, a business partner, your boss, a colleague, etc. The only thing you have to do is let them know that you will be doing it and why, and that the only thing (at a minimum) you need them to do is review it.

Objective Measurements

The other tactic that will reduce our ability to consistently fool ourselves is to establish specific, objective measurements for any particular personal or business goal and write them down (again, sharing this in an accountability report above is doubly effective).

For instance, if you plan on dropping a waist size, write down specifically what that goal is. Then, as you are working on the goal, periodically measure your waist (and write that down). This action of measuring against an objective value prevents and ‘lying’…you have either attained the goal (or are progressing against it) or not. If not, you can then take specific actions or change strategies necessary to reach the goal (again, put this in the accountability report as well).

In business, this means establishing, again, specific objective targets/measurements of performance. And then commit to abiding by the facts as they are presented.

For instance, your goal may be to increase conversions by 10% over the next 3 months. Write down the specific number that needs to be attained (again, it is important to share and get agreement with partners/employees, etc. as appropriate).

Measure this on a regular basis to see if you are progressing and what it is at the end of the three months. Again, you are either progressing/reaching the goal or not. Do not try to justify why you may not be. Simply accept the facts; and take actions to decide what changes need to be done to attain the goal and implement them.

(It should be noted that care must be taken to establish goals of things that can be empirically measured and have true bearing on the needs related to your business plan).

Stop Fooling Yourself…Today!

So, take action RIGHT NOW! Establish some level of personal and professional accountability. Develop objective, specific,  goals which can be measured empirically.

I hope that you try out these two simple tools and start putting the reign on being fooled by the one who can fool us the easiest — oneself.

As this is a community to help each other grow and prosper in life and business, please comment below with examples where you have caught yourself fooling yourself and things that you have used to overcome this tendency.

As always,

StayOnTheRise!

JT

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