I used to say that I’m not the “entrepreneurial type.” Except, apparently, I am, because I’m living it.
I also used to say that I like stability, and not taking scary leaps. Except I don’t (I get bored and restless when things are too stable), and I totally do get a positive charge from leaps.
Learning to tell the Little Right Lies
Those “untruths” above are from my days as a job candidate, an interviewee, and an underling (either a secretary or a young associate attorney).
I learned to believe them about myself because I knew it was the “right” answer to offer to an employer or higher-ranking colleague (especially one that would get nervous at the prospect of having an entrepreneurially-minded individual on staff–which, in the steeply hierarchical world of large law firms and entrenched Powers That Be, is more the norm than the exception).
We’re taught to tell the truth. But we’re also taught that only socially-acceptable truths should be told.
We’re taught that lying is bad… unless it makes us fit in better or meet certain expectations, and then it’s passable.
And eventually, if we’re being good kids (or students, or job candidates, or employees) we learn this skill of telling only the “right” truths and lying the “right” lies so well that we call it our Truth. We call it our Self.
But just because we say it’s so doesn’t make it true.
The Little Right Lies of My Own Business
When I left the world of Big Law Firms and corporate structures, I felt liberated. And true, to a large degree, I was. I was free to admit that I hated “cute work shoes” and thought that “corporate dress code” is more about showing off for one another than it is about how proficiently we worked. I was free to seek out people I wanted to work with, rather than being told I had to “put in my time” working for someone else. Hugely liberating!
But I wasn’t totally liberated from the Little Right Lies… I just changed which ones I told on a regular basis.
For instance, I used to say that I didn’t mind how often someone needed last-minute tasks done, or whether they needed to be “on call” for them at all times, including weekends. Those were Little Right Lies borne of the belief that if I drew boundaries, I’d lose clients and I’d wind up penniless and living in a box.
The truth is that drawing those boundaries has been tremendously powerful, and has helped me work with more of the right clients–the ones who really fit and vibe well with me and me with them. (And so far, no box-living has been necessary!)
I used to tell people that I was a Virtual Assistant with a catchy title. But that’s not true either. I held on to that Little Right Lie because I believed that good entrepreneurs quickly find a niche, and find one that’s easily identifiable/categorizable by others–so being a high-end VA was mine.
The truth is that I’m not a VA. Or, at least, I’m definitely not just a VA. That’s perhaps only one component of what I do. I’m also an “Ideal Day Consultant.” And an architect of systems and structures that support a creative entrepreneur’s business. And a wordsmith for difficult communications. And a collaboration analyst. I don’t have a clue what my niche is, and I’m not particularly easily categorizable… and my whole business (and how I serve my clients) has improved drastically since I began acknowledging that.
And I still find myself falling back on the most insidious Little Right Lie of all: I can do it all myself. (I’m not just a fiercely independent entrepreneur, I’m also an introvert, and a highly-sensitive person… so I’m supposed to need to do it all myself, right?)
Living beyond the Little Right Lies
Being an entrepreneur simultaneously frees me to let go of the Little Right Lies, and challenges me to stop using them as a built-in safety net.
Sometimes it’s easier–almost reflexive–to fall back on the Little Right Lies I’ve told so many times. And sometimes I still do.
But one of the greatest gifts of this entrepreneurial adventure I’m on is being free to explore life beyond the Little Right Lies. To see what happens if I drop my own facade. To meet people who really dig who I am without demanding I fit into the Little Right Lie mold.
And the times when I shed the protection and the patterns of those Little Right Lies and state my truth with confidence (maybe even with moxie, depending on the day) my soul does a little happy dance. I can feel it in my bones when I’m living in alignment with what’s real, rather than perpetuating the Little Right Lies.
All of which is not to suggest that it’s always easy to live beyond the Little Right Lies… but the adventure that unfolds when I’m courageous enough to do so has, thus far, consistently proven to be worth every ounce of difficulty or uncertainty I’ve encountered.
Viva la truth, baby.
What’s in your little black book of little right lies?
Do you catch yourself telling a few Little Right Lies here and there? Who do you tell them for? Or what feels scary about living beyond them? What’s happened for you when you’ve let yourself live beyond them?