Have you ever felt that horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you have blown it big time… when you risk being embarrassed, disappointing others, and losing all your credibility with people who matter to you in more ways than one?
It happened to me yesterday. I live by my calendar, yet I double booked myself for dinner.
Seven unsuspecting people I didn’t want to dissapoint were on the line.
First there was Kathrine, Jan, Audrey, and Carolyn, four business icons I admire, some of the busiest women I know. Nailing a dinner date to bring us together was nothing short of extraordinary.
Elated to make it happen, I entered the date on my calendar—on the wrong day—then managed to mess up the dinner reservation.
Then there was Leah, one of my dearest friends, her husband, and one of their friends—who offered her extra theatre ticket for me–an impromptu opportunity to finally get quality time with wonderful friends.
BLOWING IT & THE PRIMAL INSTINCT TO LIE
I was sitting in the back seat of Leah’s car when it all sank in. Then two texts arrive … “I’m here, whose name is the reservation under?” and “Running late?”
When we blow it, we wish we could rewind time. Then the primal instinct kicks in: LIE. To protect our pride and to protect others from feeling hurt and disappointed, or so we tell ourselves.
I say “we” because one of the perks of being in the coaching business is an ever growing understanding of human nature, and ample case studies to back it up.
In the words attributed to William Shakespeare,
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
Still in the car, as we arrived to our destination, three scenarios populate my thoughts in a nano second:
- Say nothing. Stay with my gracious hosts. Make up a tragic excuse for missing my dinner date with my four friends who are perfectly capable of having a great time without me.
- Lie and Enjoy. Pretend I’m suddenly sick. Ditch my hosts with my dignity intact. Uber my way to my four friends, waiting at the restaurant two miles away.
- Lie and Miss Out (scenario #2 with a twist): Pretend I’m suddenly ill. Ditch my first party. Tell my second party I got deadly ill in route to the restaurant and had to turn back home. Everyone has a fun time, after they briefly chat about and perhaps pray for my misfortune.
The third scenario is the most appealing. No casualties because no one gets hurt. I pay the price of my incompetence.
THE ALTERNATIVE: CONFESS
The alternative is coming clean to everyone involved. Telling the truth. Admitting that we’ve blown it. Then having to make a choice that will disappoint someone.
It’s painful. It’s embarrassing. it’s risky.
- What are they going to think of me?
- Who’s going to get hurt?
- Will they ever trust me again?
These and more are the questions that flood our minds when we contemplate the alternative. So why choose it? After all, that’s the real question, isn’t it?
THREE UNLIKELY LESSONS FROM CHOOSING TO COME CLEAN
Having chosen the easy way out (to lie) in the past, I can assure you that I don’t write this post from a place of moral superiority. In fact, it is because I didn’t choose the alternative—many times—and lived to regret it that I am inspired to write this post.
Lesson #1: Telling the truth reveals the kind of friends you’ve chosen to surround yourself with
When I told Leah what happened, she spoke without a hint of hesitation or judgement: “What do you want to do?” Then she made sure the Uber driver would find me.
Later that evening, when I picked up my car from her house, she hugged me and said, “You prioritized well,” and quickly accepted my offer to make it up to all of them.
My four friends were equally gracious when I arrived to the restaurant and told them why I was late.
As I write this I’m smiling, grateful for the kind of friends I have.
Lesson #2: Telling the truth is a gift you give others
When I arrived to the restaurant and confessed what happened, Kathrine said something like, “Do you know how refreshing it is to know that you’re not perfect?” We all laughed, but I laughed the hardest thinking about the possibility that someone could ever imagine that I was perfect.
Yet, later I reflected on her comment further. I remembered a few times when people I admired came clean and let me see their flaws… and what a gift their vulnerability was to me.
Lesson #3: Telling the truth is a gift of breakthrough you give yourself
The beauty of getting older is the wisdom you gain from years of mistakes and bad judgement calls.
Telling myself that a few white lies (that protect others’ feelings) is admirable and necessary is akin to being an alcoholic and telling myself I can quit any time without getting help.
Both are destructive, to everyone involved.
Telling the truth is a breakthrough gift we give ourselves. It gets us unstuck and moves us forward fast…
- It immediately sets us free
- It immediately reveals where we stand with those affected by our mistake
- It immediately gives us the opportunity to make amends
- It ensures we have a good night’s sleep (even after drinking a caffeinated drink)
- It grows us and moves us closer to the person we aspire to be
THE KEY TAKEAWAY
The truth is that we never want to blow it again, nor disappoint those who have placed their trust in us. But if we are honest with ourselves, chances of that happening are slim.
The only certainty we can have is what we chose to do when we blow it again… and who we will become as a result of our choices.
By the Way…
The road to building a business that thrives beyond our wildest dreams, despite economic conditions, is paved with many difficult choices. That’s why I’m practically giving away my February 29 event for entrepreneurs, business owners, and anyone who wants to Take a Leap by selling their services and ideas.