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We tell ourselves lies. Some of us tell the lies to our peers, our friends, and our families. Some of us tell them so often that we start to believe them. They’re dangerous.
You may be perfectly honest. Maybe you’re not, and you’re telling one or two of these lies. You might even be telling all five.
Here are the lies:
1. “Things are going great.”
No, they’re not. You’re filled with anxiety about paying the rent, the malpractice insurance, and the outstanding balance owed to your website vendor (on top of your student loans). Telling your friends, your family, and yourself that things are great when they’re not makes things worse. It isolates you from others. It cuts you off from those offering help and solace. It makes you lonesome. Go ahead, be vulnerable. It makes you likable and approachable, and, ultimately, it results in things going great.
2. “She couldn’t afford me.”
She walked away when you quoted her a $5,000 fee. You felt okay about it. It wasn’t you. “She couldn’t afford me,” you said to yourself. How, then, did she pay for that Disney cruise last winter? How did she buy that big screen TV with that sweet Sonos sound system? How did she get her child’s orthodontic work done? She can afford you. She chooses not to because you didn’t help her understand the value of having you on her team. You’ve got to take responsibility for your weaknesses if you’re going to improve.
3. “I’m really busy at work.”
Sure, you’re really busy if dropping off the kids on the way in and leaving early to pick them up counts. Yep, you’re really busy if swinging by the courthouse to look something up for your neighbor counts. You’re really busy if doing a friend a favor at a huge discount counts. But you’re not really busy if your time is filled with doing non-revenue-producing activities. Busy doesn’t count if it’s not adding to the bottom line. Telling people you’re busy when you’re not makes them less likely to refer. It hurts you instead of helping you. When it’s slow, tell them it’s slow. It’s okay to look less than perfect.
4. “My clients love me.”
We all want to believe that our clients are happy with the job we’re doing. Some of them truly are happy. But how can you tell who’s happy and who isn’t? You can’t. You’ve got too much invested in believing you did a good job. You’re not objective. Get a third party to ask your clients for an assessment. Do it for every client on a regular basis. It’s human nature for your clients to act pleased with you in your presence and only trash you behind your back. Don’t lie to yourself. Find out what they really think.
5. “I love what I do.”
Some of us do love it. I didn’t. Sure, there are parts of practicing law that I love, but there are parts that I hate. Telling ourselves we love something that’s driving us crazy and stressing us out only makes our misery worse. Being honest with ourselves helps us manage the issues and develop coping strategies. Pretending that we love it all keeps us from solving the problems and making our choices work for us.
Which lies do you tell yourself? Which lies do you tell others? Isn’t it time to stop?