17 Nov Lying – a huge waste
I was shocked, then puzzled, and finally saddened when a young man lied to me.
I was networking at a business function and was asking him about the kind of retirement readiness offered by the large business he worked for. I’m particularly interested in people having purpose and meaning in their lives after retirement, so I was curious to know if anything more than financial planning was offered.
“Oh, yes”, he said. “Dr. So-and-so comes in and talks about meaning”, and he went on for a bit, parroting back several of the words I had been using. My inner radar got activated, so that night I looked up Dr. So-and-so, in part because I also wanted to connect with someone who shared my passion. I was shocked to discover that the person he named is a dentist, not a sociologist.
I was puzzled. Why would he make up a story? My first thought was that I had somehow made the young man feel defensive, to the point that he lied to make his workplace look good.
But then I got to thinking about people with a fixed mindset, who believe that they are either intelligent or they’re not, powerful or not, successful or not. Anything suggesting mistakes or failure means that they themselves are flawed and imperfect. If the company they work for has a weakness, they would see that as reflecting badly on themselves. And so lying starts, to protect their image of themselves.
Lying to preserve self-image can permeate an entire workplace, not only among staff within, but also lying to preserve a false image to the outside world. “How sad”, I thought, “So much effort going into protecting an image of self as perfect, successful, and smart. Such a huge waste of talent and energy.”
This young man and others like him would probably benefit from mentoring by someone with a growth mindset, someone who is comfortable with imperfection, eager to learn from mistakes, and willing to persevere when faced with challenges – all good reasons for businesses, organizations, and institutions to make use of older adults as mentors – to young people and their workplaces.