Telling Ourselves the Truth

What if running the mind on autopilot makes it more difficult to see the truth? That question may not be important for everyone who reads it. I find it very important as a step towards improvement. A better life that is better sustainable and clearly thought about is possible. Some writings from Greg Satell has edged forward my thoughts on that a bit.

It began with reading a great article titled, 6 Lies Managers Tell Themselves. As I read the 6 points, I realized, those lies are not limited to those of us who are or may eventually be in positions of organizational responsibility.

After I read some of Greg Satell’s other articles, I saw a case for thinking more clearly about what I am doing in life and considering the context more clearly. I did not agree with some of his writings, but a few I did. Articles about Why Success Often Breeds Failure; Sometimes Being Wrong Can Be More Valuable Than Being Right; and We Should Be Careful About Simple Solutions To Complex Problems were good examinations of the challenges involved balancing our psychological tendency to keep going with understanding truth of situations and ourselves.

Why become better? The answer is simple and while the daily, monthly, yearly view is simple, the process is complex. The basic answer I have come up with is by improving yourself, you can contribute more to life. I see it as a cycle. At each stage of improvement, potential increases. That is my belief. If you improve (knowledge, emotion, and health) your capacity to contribute grows which favors improvement. You have to build value which does not happen in a vacuum but reaches its maximum expression with others.

I believe many (not all) are on that same journey whether stated in that way or not. A major barrier is going off course through the distractions of excessive drive (called passion) and beliefs about you, situations, and others that are false. I am very familiar with this barrier. We lie to ourselves about what we are good at; how noble we are at times; our very intentions and then pass that on as a complete picture of ourselves. I sense that some of this has to do with the mind’s tendency towards shortcuts.

It is true that with technology, we can compress time. Outside of the ultra-fast wanderings of technology, we cannot compress our own time. Shortcuts are another distraction away from process that produce results. Those results may be success or failure, striving through time builds the information through experience necessary to understand what works given the elements of a situation and what is less appropriate in those particular conditions. What fails in one scenario may succeed in another and the shortcuts should be examined carefully.

What are shortcuts? A favorable impression in society based on no substantive reason for such status due to various interpersonal shortcuts. Inadequate technological solutions (security/reliability) due to understanding some things but skipping over others. Deciding who is worth our time based on the shortcuts of culture and stereotype. Attending to rapid material success due to the shortcuts of what worked for others without carefully evaluating if that process is compatible with who you are. Shortcuts in thinking.

Lies we tell ourselves are the ultimate shortcut. Through self-deception you do not have to admit there is another path and another reality that is more valid or the truth. That reality may be painful to face or somehow known to consume more time than you are ready to commit. The failure to commit the time means the risk of substituting less productive time with time that creates a more complete outcome that endures. That is one of the cautions in misunderstanding reason, causality, correlation, motivation, complexity and simplicity. Progress takes time whether that is improvement in society or improvement in ourselves. The progress of both however is firmly interconnected.

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