Have you ever told a lie? Come on, let’s be honest. You have, haven’t you? Maybe you told a lie to get away with something. Perhaps you told a white lie because you didn’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings.
If we’re truly being honest with ourselves, most of us have a tendency to lie daily. Sure, I’m not talking about lying to get ahead, cheating people out of something, stealing, or anything egregious; I’m talking about the little, subtle lies that seem to surround us every day.
We lie about how we look. We lie about how our friends, partners, or spouse looks. We lie about the struggle. We lie to ourselves about how bad things might be when they’re at their worst.
Turn on social media and take a look around. While I’m not saying most people lie about their lives on social media, isn’t that really what many of us do?
We only put the best snapshot images of ourselves, our family, our lives out there for the world to see. Most of us don’t share the struggles, the fights, the arguments, the financial pain, the job you just got laid off from that you’d didn’t want to lose, the illness, the worry, the doubt, the fear, etc.
But leaving those negative things out and only focusing on the positives, isn’t that a form of lying? Yes, it is.
And here’s the rub: When we are constantly seeing our friends, people we went to high school with, family, and even strangers seemingly living the “perfect lives,” what does that mean?
We keep looking at ourselves, the car we drive, the house we live in, the job we have, the behavior of our children, and everything else and start measuring against those illusions.
It becomes really difficult to discover who you are after a while. You keep trying to chase after the life other people seem to be living, even though they really aren’t living the life it looks on social media.
Oversized Houses and Plastic Furniture
Back in the 1990s in the US, a trend began in earnest within the housing market. People weren’t satisfied with your traditional three bedroom, two bath raised ranch. They wanted four bedrooms, five bedrooms, and even larger houses.
Credit became easier to come by, which meant people of average means suddenly had the ability to purchase incredibly sized houses, sometimes wickedly referred to as McMansions.
They were popping up all over the place. You could drive through brand new communities and developments and see these monstrous homes with decent sized yards an oversized deck and think, “Wow, those people must be doing great!”
But, you know what? Far too many of those houses were empty inside. Sure, they might have some bedroom furniture, an old mattress, but their dining furniture was old, if they had any at all.
In some cases, people had plastic outdoor tables and chairs in their eat-in kitchen. They might have had three car garages, but everything was maxed out.
Today, would it surprise you that more than 78 percent of full-time working adults are living paycheck to paycheck? Nearly half of full-time working adults couldn’t come up with $1,000 for an emergency expense.
I’m not here trying to judge how people live their lives, spend their money, or anything like that. However, it seems based on those numbers most people aren’t living honestly with themselves.
Why Is Honesty So Crucial for the Entrepreneur?
When you set out on an entrepreneurial endeavor, whether you plan to start your own brick-and-mortar retail shop, a delicatessen or restaurant, providing services to local businesses, as a consultant, teacher, motivational speaker, web designer, software engineer, or anything else, you are going to face incredible challenges.
You will be criticized. Even your closest friends and family will doubt you. They’ll ask you tough questions you may not be able to answer, at least not a right away. They’ll tell you, “You’re crazy.”
“What are you thinking?”
“There’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that!”
That can hurt. Let me tell you, it can sting. Most of the people closest to you can cause the greatest damage and they rarely ever realize what they’re doing.
I wouldn’t say it’s like crabs in a bucket, but sometimes it might be. Most of the time, it’s because people care about you. They honestly think that starting your own business or breaking out on your own to be the boss, build an enterprise, is simply too much for most average people to do.
Oh, what was that comment about crabs in a bucket?
I’m glad you asked. If you have a couple of crabs in a bucket (because you love to go crabbing along the shore, of course), watch what happens. One of them will inevitably start figuring out how to climb the side of the bucket. If it’s not too tall and they can get a claw up to grab the lip (or you put something there for them to hold onto and drag themselves up and out of that bucket), they will start to do it.
And here’s the amazing thing. One of the other crabs, if not more, will almost always reach up, grasp that one crab trying to escape, and pull it back down.
Sound familiar? Human beings do the same thing sometimes. It sucks. When that happens, it’s not because a person is really too concerned about your well-being but rather they don’t want you to get out of the bucket.
Because if your coworkers or casual acquaintances see that you made it out of the 9 to 5 grind, they’re going to have to look at themselves … honestly … and they might not like what they discover.
But that’s why you need to be honest with yourself. You need to have a clear understanding of what you are capable of, what kind of criticism, critique, or even nastiness you can handle without allowing it to erode the foundation of your resolve.
How Do You Know if You’re Honest?
This is a tough one. Most of us have an innate, uncanny ability to deceive ourselves. We have built this mechanism into our operating framework throughout childhood.
It’s certainly not mean-spirited. But, it can cause you harm. Most of the time, at least for most of us in my experience, we tend to err on the side of caution. Isn’t that the truth?
Instead of being bold and having great resolve to just jump out and follow our business dreams, we focus on the worry, the doubt, and the fear.
When we do that, we have a tendency to slip away from genuine honesty and start conjuring up all of the negativity we’ve experienced in our lives, from the failures to the critical comments others have made, the bullying to the advice we didn’t want to hear, and so on.
Suddenly, that small hill you saw in front of you when you came up with this idea for a new product or service, new business, or simply the desire to break out on your own is looking a lot more like Mount Everest in the wintertime.
There’s no way any sane person is going to even attempt to reach the summit when the storms are blowing in and you barely have any visibility.
You can doubt yourself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, you need to keep that doubt in its proper perspective.
That’s what I’m talking about when it comes to being honest.
When Doubt Is Not the Enemy
Doubt can certainly be a healthy thing. There’s no question about that. Doubt, in its proper place, can cause a person to take a step back and reevaluate a number of things.
You may have an idea for the next great mobile app that could solve a host of problems people face today. You can start developing it, testing it with a few friends or close family members, and feel great about the initial results.
But then suddenly doubt could start to creep in. Maybe it’s not as good as you thought it was going to be. You can set it down for a little while, step back, and figure out if something could be done better.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up. In fact, you should never give up on your dreams. That’s kind of the point of these blogs. I never want anyone to give up on their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
It is one of the most amazing, liberating, and extraordinary feelings you can ever have.
But doubt is going to creep in. And this is why you have to learn to be honest with yourself. Do you have the ability to overcome the challenge, the doubt, the fear on your own?
You might not. That’s when you need to lean on others to help you achieve your goals. Building a team, even if it’s not about employees, but rather men and women who have a common interest and believe in your vision.
You can’t do everything on your own. You have to understand that, as an entrepreneur. There will be plenty of people who have greater areas of expertise than you.
You need to be willing and able to lean on them when necessary. It’s very difficult for some people to have that level honesty with themselves.
And when you can’t be honest with yourself and accept your limitations, then what happens? You put yourself on the fast track to failure. Suddenly, all those doubts you had the first time around become monumentally bigger if you even attempted something like this again.
I want you to not allow yourself to be put in that situation. I want you to give yourself permission to be honest about everything.
Be honest about the doubts you have. Let them come in. You don’t have to give in to them, but instead evaluate them openly and honestly. Are those doubts unfounded? What are they based on? A lack of experience? A lack of knowledge? A lack of skill?
If so, continue being honest with yourself and realize your entrepreneurial dreams may need a little outside help.
You certainly need to believe in yourself and have courage to take those initial steps, but honesty is just as important as all these other traits. Maybe even more so because the moment you start lying to yourself or ignoring certain facts staring you in the face, you begin setting yourself up for failure.
Get to know who you really are, what you’re capable of, and where your deficiencies and limitations lie. You can be an incredible leader, an innovator, an inspiration.
But before you can be any of those things you have to reach a place of openness and honesty with yourself.
Now, go discover who you really are.