Covenient Little Lies

Convenient little lies.

I am astonished to what lengths we go to perpetuate them.

I could chuckle about it. Except that it’s not funny. Little lies are how we collectively hold each other back.

Finance People don’t like to role-play.

A little lie from the training world in which I toil. You know the stereotypes behind the lie.

I spent an entire day last week with 20 finance folks. We did a large-scale workplace simulation. Of course we had a blast. In my experience, finance folks absolutely relish role-plays. And that’s NOT a little lie.

Don’t do any fluff.

That’s what my boss told me, a few years back, the day before I flew to Huntsville/Alabama to work with the NASA instructional design team that develops all the training programs for astronauts.

These are the most over-educated people you will ever meet, Cindy warned me. Don’t waste their time. No fluff.

No fluff, in this case, meant no puzzles or icebreakers. Skip the fun stuff. Stick to hard content.

Being the little rebel that I sometimes am, I chose to keep every puzzle and icebreaker in the program. And yes, this was a highly educated crowd. Within 5 minutes, my NASA friends had discovered all the puzzles in their program manuals AND had solved them. Not only did they love the puzzles – they screamed for more!

This is the lie, really.

Smart people are always serious. Serious people are smart. Smart people don’t like to play – at least not when they work. And since we have to be smart to be successful in business, there are whole groups of people we better not play with.

Hogwash. Gobbledygook.

Here’s my convenient little truth, based on years of empirical evidence.

Serious people and not-so-serious people – we all yearn to be playful. The less we get to express this urge in our daily routine, the more liberating it is when we finally get to do so. A sense of play accelerates productivity. It fosters genuine engagement. It propels connection.

This truth cuts across professional norms. It cuts across most cultures. Even the “serious” ones.

The risk when I play? I need to let go of my little lies. The lies are never about you, anyway. They’re about MY fear of taking a social risk. MY fear of losing credibility.

Plain old fear.

This week, as you go about your daily routines, ask yourself: What are my convenient lies? About this person? This client? This group of people? What is the price I pay for holding on to my little lies?

Consider the question.

Choose to override fear.