Have you ever found yourself telling a little white lie when it comes to your career? Perhaps you’ve bent the truth ever-so-slightly regarding your experience, changed a job title on your resume because it sounded better, or denied ever ‘borrowing’ post-it notes to use at home? Many of these actions are every-day occurrences, but it’s the way we rationalize our actions that can cause the real problem…
This article isn’t about the legalities of post-it-pinching or misrepresentation on your resume, I’ll leave that up to the lawyers. The problem I’m talking about is how we can regularly deceive ourselves, and the impact it can have on our lives.
Rationalization is common place in society and I’m sure each and every one of us has rationalized our actions and behavior at some point. It’s a defense mechanism that allows us to explain the things we say, feel or do in a rational manner which in turns means we can avoid the true explanation of the behavior or feeling in question.
For example, someone who wants a salary increase might tell a prospective employer or recruiter that their current salary is higher than it is, rationalizing that “everyone does it, and besides, I don’t get paid enough anyway”. Or there’s the person that never makes it to the gym because they’ve “got too much work on and that’s what pays the bills”.
These excuses may seem relatively harmless, but the issue is that when we rationalize our behavior we allow ourselves to perform below par, often taking short-cuts or avoiding challenges which in can kerb our growth and development.
Let’s face it, rationalization makes us feel better – it’s the comfort blanket that shields us from taking responsibility for our actions, or stepping up to new challenges. It softens otherwise savage blows and allows our mind to accept what it would otherwise feel uncomfortable or challenged by. That may sound good to you, but it’s important to think about the ramifications of these excuses.
Take a moment now to answer this question honestly:-
What feelings, thoughts or actions have you rationalized recently to make yourself feel better about a decision you’ve made?
When answering this question consider your job, family, personal and professional relationships, health and personal growth and development.
By recognising where we rationalize our thoughts and behavior we allow ourselves us to accept what has happened rather than creating a reason for it. This refreshing and honest approach can be uncomfortable at times as you accept your behavior and potentially experience a feeling of guilt as a result. But in order to live by our values and with integrity it’s important to have a conscious awareness of when you’re rationalizing your behavior.
In the context of your career, quitting rationalization means you step up to the plate – you take responsibility for the things you say and do, and are accountable for the results you get. Excuses and stories do not lead to a successful career so if you really want to get ahead put an end to the little white lies and justifications which simply hinder career prospects, and instead create a transparent and honest path for yourself.
Written by Faye Hollands – Director at Outshine Consulting. Faye is an accomplished Career Coach and Time Management Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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