The One Person You Can Fool

The one person you can fool the most is yourself. At least, I can fool myself—a lot. Maybe you are smarter than I am!

When I give my talks about creating an adaptable life, I talk about our old analog scale. I was a master at losing weight—on the scale. I could make that scale sing. I could lose weight just by standing on it on the right place. It didn’t matter how my jeans fit. I could stand on the right place and lose a good three to four pounds. I did lose weight. Over five years I lost about 30 pounds. I never gained weight, which was great, but I did struggle to lose.

And then I decided I could keep fooling myself about the scale or I could get serious about losing weight. I bought a digital scale over Mark’s serious objections.

“We have a perfectly good scale.”

“It’s not perfect for me. I keep cheating on it. If you lean back, you can lose 3 pounds.”

“I know. And if you lean to the left, you can lose another 2.”

“I didn’t know that!!”

But the problem is that when you fool yourself, you don’t see the reality of your situation. You cheat yourself out of your opportunity to improve.

I bought that digital scale. In the first 9 months we had that scale before I had the hemorrhage, I lost 10 pounds—much faster weight loss than in the previous five years. Why? I had much better feedback. I couldn’t fool myself about my weight. Now, Erik, my trainer, doesn’t like the scale. He says, “It measures everything.” Well, yes, it does. And, that’s ok. I’m also smart enough to know if I overeat one day that it’s not the end of the world. But if I overeat for several days, it will show up on the scale and it will stay there until I do something about it. I need accurate feedback about my weight to know what to do about it.

Us humans are good at fooling ourselves. That’s why we need feedback to make sure we see the reality. For weight, jeans are a great way (weigh?) to see the reality. Sorry, I could not resist a small pun there.

At work, we fool ourselves. I see this in my clients, too. You’ve all seen project managers who were ostriches. “If I stick my head in the sand, maybe the bad things won’t happen.” That’s a project manager fooling him or herself. All the schedule games in Manage It are about management, project management and teams fooling themselves.

What do we need to do? Personally, say no to elastic-waist pants and use digital scales. At work, devise similar sorts of measurement systems that don’t allow us to fool ourselves. That’s why I like multi-dimension measurement systems. If you measure two dimensions, your chances of fooling yourself become much less.

Another approach is to make sure you see progress every day. I’ve been sharing my progress with you. I started this blog so I had an outlet for my emotions and lessons. Maybe journalling in some form is something you want to consider. When I write things down, it keeps me honest. Yes, I have a little notebook where I track my weight every Monday and the first of each month. That way, I can’t fool myself. How about you? Do you know how you fool yourself?

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