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28 Apr 2014

Beware of Self-Deception

Isn’t it startling how we can easily see the faults in other people but be blind to even greater flaws in our own lives? We fool ourselves into assuming that our filthy behaviors are justified. We easily get offended when people throw the hammer at us but so comfortably chew out our subordinates with righteous indignation. We excuse ourselves for being proud and arrogant yet condemn our competitors who seemingly appear petty and prideful. We close our hearts on friends who seem not to enquire of our well being whereas we’ve never bordered to really know how they are surviving. We point accusing fingers on countries that seem to struggle with a bad reputation and claim to have the aroma of morality whereas we operate a system that legally extorts money from the poor. Who are we to judge others! It is easy to point fingers and blame other people for what we are sick of. Indeed self-deception is one of the greatest challenges of leadership.

In the bible, it was easy for David to have easily condemned King Saul for seeking to kill him (his most reliable and trusted soldier). Yet later, we saw the same David when he became king, plotting to murder one of his most loyal officers so he could marry his wife. Samuel was in a similar situation. He might have criticized the way Eli (his spiritual father) raised his two wicked sons Hophni and Phinehas. Yet Samuel’s own two sons Joel and Abijah would greatly dishonor God and eventually instigate the Israelites to clamor for a king to lead them.

One of the most controversial and influential figures in America is William Randolph Hearst the founder of the Examiner. As a young man, Hearst was said to have suffered from the woeful neglect of his father who was a U.S. Senator. After he dropped out as a student at Harvard, his relationship with his father went sour. His biographer notes that “All his life he had tried to prove to his father that he was worthy of his respect. If he had failed at Harvard, he had succeeded magnificently atThe Examiner, turning a moribund, bankrupt daily into a profitable enterprise. But it had been in vain” (David Nasaw, The Chief). It happened that his father thought little of him that, in his last will and testament, he left most of Hearst’s inheritance in his mother’s care.

However, with such deprivation and emotional torture from his father, one would have expected Hearst to be a leading example of a good father. But such was not the case for him. Not one of his sons completed their university education, just as their father had not. Rather they were popular in the news for their extravagant spending habits. Sadly, even though Hearst suffered from his father’s lack of care and neglect, he turned out worst and ignored his own children. Despite all he had seen that was not right with his father’s attitude towards him, Hearst had unknowingly become just like his father. Although he desperately craves for public affirmation for being there for his children, he seldom got it. Rather he was clearly filled with ridicule for his own sons who may not meet his high standards.

While it is great to study and upgrade your leadership management principles, they will do you no good if you don’t accurately appraise your own behavioral makeup. According to Thomas Blackaby in his book The Inspired Leader, “It is not enough to believe that leaders ought to act with integrity. You must also thoroughly evaluate the credibility and honesty of your own actions”. It is great to hate procrastination or pride. It is great to tell it like it is…shooting straight and calling a spade a spade. It is also great to express the reality of the situation. But be careful you are not guilty of it before pointing that accusing finger. Though leaders must dispense reality to their followers, don’t always assume that simply because you believe in something that it is deep-rooted in you. Actually, wielding what you believe into your behavior requires a great deal of effort and determination. But it is worth the try.

So when next you are dissatisfied with the behavior of people around you please take a deep look in the mirror and you will be horrified at what you discover.

 

 

Evaluate your habits before you measure others.

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