“The truth hurts for a little while, but a lie hurts forever.” – Eileen Parra
Unexpectedly Sam had that 'I think I forgot something feeling’; the feeling that makes some of us feel just a little bit sick to our stomachs or perhaps brings on a cold sweat. Then he realized what it was, he had completely forgotten to tell his project steering committee about the change request that the branch office had given to him when he visited their facility two weeks ago.
The branch manager's administrative assistant had handed him a hard copy as he was leaving for the airport. Sam had set the change demand into an organizer loaded with papers, bounced into a taxi and instantly disregarded it.
The issue Sam now faced was that the steering committee had just met yesterday to review all open issues and change requests. Now quite a few of the members were leaving town for a lengthy business trip and he would not have enough members present to approve or reject changes. Of course he could get them together in a virtual meeting, but most of them despised virtual meetings and only used them for emergency sessions. This was not an emergency session. Unless..... Sam realized there was no paper trail or email trail that proved that he had received the change request. He could in fact pretend that he JUST received it and that the branch was making a major whine about it, so he needed to treat it like a crisis. He could always feign ignorance when the branch manager asked what happened to the copy her assistant had provided to Sam on his visit.
Although Sam felt a bit uneasy, he decided that pretending he never received the change request was the best approach.
That way he would hide any hint of failure from his steering committee and the branch manager would still get a decision on her change request. The administrative assistant might get reprimanded and would know that Sam was being dishonest, but that was a price Sam was willing to pay. Sam sat back and waited for the branch manager to call or email about her change request. Then Sam could spring into action and call an emergency virtual steering committee meeting.
Sam felt much better after he had spoken with the branch manager. She was a bit annoyed and did not seem to believe that her assistant had neglected to give Sam the change request. But she seemed pleased with Sam's plan to call the emergency meeting and she appreciated his sense of urgency. Sam felt that he had been convincing and almost believed himself when he stated that he had never received a copy of the change request.
By the time that Sam contacted the steering committee members and shared the story of the last minute change request with them, he never even paused to feel guilty, he had begun to believe the story himself.
Sam's conduct really brings to light some of the many problems that come along with lying. When you lie to others, you are damaging your relationship with them. Even if they do not know you are lying, YOU know that you are lying. One lie leads to another and then to another. Soon you are uncomfortable being around that individual because you are worried that you will 'accidentally' tell the truth. Wait a minute; 'accidentally' tell the truth? So much for trusting and transparent relationships.
Sam began to believe his own lie. His deceitfulness is not just with others; it is with himself. When you tell a lie and you begin to treat your lie as the truth you are damaging your most important relationship your relationship with yourself. And that lie becomes part of you, next time it is easier to lie (that is not a good thing) and instead of learning from your mistakes you cover them up. Would it have been difficult for Sam to admit that he had forgotten the change request? Absolutely. And if he forgot important documents on a regular basis, that would definitely be career limiting. This would be the case even if each time he forgot something he told a lie. It would catch up with him. If he had told the truth, he would have grown from the experience and earned the respect of some of the steering committee
, most definitely the administrative assistant and the branch manager and again most importantly himself.
The truth would have led to some temporary discomfort. Sam may not know it now, but his lie will last a lifetime.