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Self-Deception, Blame-shifting, and Justification

I think it’s safe to say that being self-deceived is one of the most common issues we face on a daily basis. I recently read the book “Leadership and Self-Deception” by The Arbinger Institute for the 3rd time. You would think that after the 2nd time through I’d have the implementation down pat, know what to watch out for and how to avoid the dreaded self-deception right? Think again. This got me thinking about how easy it is to slide back into the deception trap unless you’re always on guard against it.

So what exactly is Self-Deception? Put in the most simplest form that I can muster, it is the act of making yourself think you are making progress towards a goal or desire when you really are not. For example, many people that do-not track the numbers for their goal always feel as if they are putting in more effort than they really are and become frustrated when they realize they aren’t progressing.

So how do you cure this? Well, in the wise words of Mark Cuban, Marcus Lemonis, “Mr. Wonderful”, Robert Herjavac or any of the other business guru’s we see on TV: KNOW YOUR FREAKIN’ NUMBERS!!!!! If you are tracking the necessary actions that will result in your desired outcome, you can’t be surprised if you don’t achieve it in the time frame you set out to. And the best part is, if you are still surprised, the answer is right in front of you as to why you didn’t hit it.

Now let’s talk about Self-Deception’s 2 ugly cousins that will amplify the deception: Blame-shifting and Justification. Blame-shifting is a concept that was introduced to me by one of my mentors when I was 19. Blame-shifting usually comes out as an excuse after self-deception has occurred. For example, you didn’t hit your prospecting goal for the month, so you blame it on your boss for calling too many meetings throughout the month. In reality, the meeting’s had nothing to do with you not hitting your prospecting goal, but you justify your lack of action by shifting blame to your boss. I mean, for Christ’s sake (pun intended) even in Genesis 3:12-14 Adam and Eve are blame-shifting like crazy!!! Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. If Adam would just man up and accept responsibility for not leading his wife and protecting her, none of that would have happened. Anyways, just remember that whether it is a legitimate reason or an excuse the end result is the same.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with my thoughts on justification. I firmly believe we can justify anything we want to in life. We are so good at blame-shifting and not owning up to failure that we will justify and make excuses to the point that we actually believe them. This can quickly turn into a psychological downward spiral. Justification leads to more self-deception and the vicious cycle continues.

Although Self-Deception, Blame-shifting, and Justification are technically 3 separate things, they are so ingrained together to create a deadly combination to keep us from hitting our goals. We have to always be on high alert, willing to own our failures, and be ready to take ownership when something doesn’t happen.

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