Lies for Sale


Like most people, I have too many tabs floating around in my browser. I just finished reading a New York times commentary that’s a couple of months old now, but well worth the read; it’s called “The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies.”

Some relevant quotations:

I did some research and it seems most of us lie quite a bit. A study by the University of Massachusetts found that 60 percent of adults could not have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once. … Teenage girls lie more than any other group, which is attributed to peer pressure and expectation. The study did not investigate the number of lies told by entrepreneurs looking for investment capital, but I fear we would top the chart.

So yeah, yeah… lying is “bad,” but why is it more than just a morality issue?

Peter maintains that telling lies is the No. 1 reason entrepreneurs fail. Not because telling lies makes you a bad person but because the act of lying plucks you from the present, preventing you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.

You know the right path to take and choose another, and in so doing you lose control of the situation. Now, rather than tackling the problem head on, you have to manage the fallout from the lie. I know people who seem to have spent their entire careers inflating the truth and then fighting to meet the expectations they have set.

I think that nails it on the head: it’s the false cognitive context that we create for ourselves and our teams which creates the negative results.

If you don’t think it happens in our (DevOps-y) world, you’d be wrong: I’ve called out blatant lies and constructed metrics, for precisely the purpose of creating a false historical reality, here on this blog.

Lying always catches up with you, in one way or another.