I used to think I was an honest person. I can only think of one promise that I’ve made and not kept, since 8th grade. On the night I graduated from high school I promised my friend Simon Phillips that I would sign his yearbook. And I still haven’t done it. A few years ago I reached out to Simon through Facebook to apologize and to try to complete my obligation. Apparently he forgot all about my unkept promise. I have not.
But smack dab in the middle of what I had considered to be a very honest life I realized two shocking truths:
1. I tell lies all the time.
2. I have no idea how smack and dab came to qualify the middle of something.
The lies I’m talking about are not little white lies. Not exaggerations of something mostly true. They are complete and utter falsifications and fabrications. Big league lies.
My string of outlandish lies goes back to high school. I can remember saying that I was the boys high school state record holder in the discus. I first told this lie when I was a scrawny freshman who had only thrown the discus in one meet. And in that one meet my best throw was 60 feet shy of the state record! I was a liar. Yes, I was a liar. And my pants were certainly on fire.
The lies continued in college. After a couple of rough semesters academically my GPA indicated that I was a terrible college student. But I lied and said that I was a great college student who got great grades and made the Dean’s list. All lies.
Once I started my career in advertising the lies just kept coming. Before I even landed a job I started telling outlandish lies about my accomplishments, accolades and income. I was a one man lie-athon.
But a funny thing happened after I told all those lies.
They started coming true.
Sure enough, in the last track meet of my senior year I broke the state high school discus record by 3 feet.
In college, I followed up a couple of terrible academic semesters with 7 straight semesters that included making the Dean’s List, being named an Academic All-Big Ten athlete, achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 every semester and graduating with a GPA of 3.88 within my psychology and journalism majors.
In my advertising career the lies keep coming true too. I lied when as a young writer I said I could help attract fun clients to the agency where I worked. Then I helped the agency pick up Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Sea•Doo watercraft, Evinrude outboard motors, as well as CanAm ATVs and the Spyder Roadster
Building on that success I then joined a relatively unknown regional agency and lied about how we were going to work with some of the world’s best brands. And over the next few years we won business with Nike, Coke, UPS, Nationwide, Chick-fil-a and Wells Fargo.
The truth is, you need to lie to achieve great things. You have to believe the unbelievable to achieve the unachievable. (That’s some Jessie Jackson-worthy rhyming, right!?!)
Whether you call it lying or living into your dreams or positive thinking or envisioning or auto suggestion, this powerful tool is about lying to yourself so convincingly that you make the lie a reality. Which is exactly what I am doing on my quest to create the perfect agency. I believe it can be done. And I believe I’m the right person to do it. Which is a huge, and completely unsubstantiated lie.
I don’t know of any other way to make great things happen but to tell myself they will, even when there is no basis for it in reality. So I encourage you to try lying to yourself today. If you don’t feel great, say you do. If you haven’t achieved great things, say you have. Say it often. Every morning and every night, in the mirror. Lie to yourself. Lie until you don’t even realize what the truth is anymore. And then make it all come true.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a yearbook to sign.