How Self-Deception Contributes to Work-Life Imbalance

On Sundays I write on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics.  I do it because I believe we’re all spiritual beings and have some sort of a moral compass in our lives, and because the topic personally interests me.  You can learn more by clicking here.

Today, the Bernie Madoff scandal is in the news again, due to the death of Madoff associate Jeffry Picower.  Picower, who had a fortune of over $1 billion according to this year’s Forbes 400 List (he ranked #371), was found dead in his Palm Beach swimming pool, of an apparent heart attack.

This entire saga, of how a few people bilked billions of dollars from hundreds of innocent investors, is a tragedy on two counts:

  1. Because they deceived hundreds of innocent people.
  2. Because they deceived themselves.

Most of the news coverage has focused on tragedy #1 – the hundreds of innocent people who have been deceived, many of whom have lost everything.

But more important, in my mind, is tragedy #2.  Why?  Because a person can’t deceive others until he has first deceived himself.

Conversely, these great tragedies which affect others can be avoided if we first manage our own lives well.

Self-deception is one of the greatest enemies we face when it comes to personal growth and work-life balance.  It is a self-betrayal against our moral compass, our innate sense of what we know is right and wrong.

And it rarely stays small.  Self-deception in one area of life almost inevitably lead to problems in other areas – especially our career, finances, and relationships.

What can you do to prevent self-deception in your life?  I have an idea that sounds too simple and obvious, but it works.

Simply ask yourself, at least once a week:  Am I deceiving myself in any area of my life?

You can make this a part of your weekly review process.  Think back over your actions from this past week.  Are you proud of them all?  Have you cut corners?  Have you told white lies?  Have there been times when your actions haven’t quite matched up to your beliefs?

If so, the good news is that you still have time to do something about them, before it is too late.  The sooner we make corrections, the lower the cost.

This point is so important that I’d like to say it again, in a different way.  The longer we deceive ourselves, and others, the higher the cost – to us, to those we’ve directly impacted, and to those we love the most.

Give it a try, and let me know if this exercise is a help to you.  In fact, why not start right now?

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