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The New York Times bestselling author Dan Ariely has a new book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. As a fan of his previous books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, I was excited to delve into his new area of research. That new area of research is all about dishonesty, and I guarantee you that it will open your eyes.
It’s easy in today’s society to point to others who are unethical or liars. Watch the news and you can’t miss the new corporate scandal or some form of corruption in government.
Dan’s research shows why we may think it’s okay to lie or cheat. It shows how one lie can build into another, and affect others around us. It shows that none of us can claim perfect honesty. The research then shows what we can do to improve honesty for ourselves and our culture.
About Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely is a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He holds two PhDs, one in business administration and the other in cognitive psychology. His work has been featured in numerous publications from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal. He has also been a keynote speaker for TEDTalks.
What sparked your interest in dishonesty?
I first became interested in dishonesty after Enron. And the basic question that I asked myself at that point was, what’s a better description of the Enron catastrophe—is it that there are a few bad apples who plan and execute and create some terrible, economic devastation, or is it better described by lots of wishful blindness that is created by lots of sort-of good people.
And the reason I thought this is an important question is because dealing with these two very different types of dishonesty is very, very different. If you think that dishonesty is mostly created by bad apples, then you basically want to change hiring procedures and make sure you won’t hire bad apples.
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Many years ago, I heard Zig Ziglar recommend turning your car into a “rolling university.” He explained that you could listen to motivational seminars, hear great speakers, learn a language, brush up on some sales skills. Really anything you wanted to learn could be one cassette tape away.
I listened to Zig’s advice. (I even have boxes of old cassette tapes in the basement.) Technology has changed, but his advice remains as powerful today as it was then.
My personal habit varies between seminars, news programs, and music. I like to listen to the news, but if that’s all I do, I often arrive at my destination mentally stressed. Seminars and speeches give me additional insights and ideas. If you like audiobooks, what a great opportunity to “read” more books.
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When I was much younger, I was what you would call an extreme extrovert. Myers Briggs showed my “E” was almost as high as you could go. If I went into a small restaurant, I almost felt uncomfortable unless I introduced myself to everyone else in the room. I wanted to know everyone. All of my energy came from other people—listening to their stories, learning what made them who they were.
I married someone who was the complete opposite. My wife was an introvert. We would go to a social event, and I would come home exhilarated while she would be exhausted. It’s not that she didn’t love people. It was just that she tired out around too many people. She needed alone time. She preferred one-on-one versus huge gatherings.
I’ve heard many successful relationships are built on differing qualities. “Opposites attract” is the old saying. If that’s true, the couples I’ve studied who have been together for many years generally start to inherit qualities from each other.
Michael Hyatt is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson. In addition, he is a New York Times best-selling author, a speaker, and a personal friend of mine. He also runs a hugely popular leadership blog, which consistently is ranked among the top in the world.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Michael about what he has learned about leaders from his storied career and his social networking experiences.
5 Characteristics of Authentic Leaders
Michael explained the five characteristics of authentic leaders:
1. They have insight.
2. They demonstrate initiative.
3. They have true influence.
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There’s an old story I want to share. Like most old tales, I’ve heard it told in various forms. True or not, the point is a good one.
There was once a university professor who visited a Japanese Zen master (I’ve also heard this was a Buddhist monk, but you get the point). The professor wanted to learn more about Zen.
After welcoming his visitor, the Zen master asked if he would enjoy some tea.
Knowing he should accept, the professor smiled and thanked the Zen master for his generosity.
The Zen master disappeared and then quickly reappeared with two cups and some steaming tea. The master smiled back as he poured tea into the cup. The professor watched the cup fill, and continued to watch as it overflowed. He put his hand up and exclaimed, “Stop! It’s overflowing. You’re wasting the tea and no more can fit in the cup!”
The Zen master nodded and calmly explained. “You are here to ask questions. Yet you come full. You have your own ideas and have no space. Until you have room for more, you will not accept new information.”
How Full is Your Cup?
It’s a powerful reminder about preconceptions. We all too often have such strongly held opinions that we are not really able to take in all of the new information. That part is obvious.
But today I thought about the story in a different way. What if, instead of ideas, we thought about our relationships? How many of us think, “I have enough friends. I have no room for any more.” We hit a certain age and we are comfortable with the people around us. What do we lose by not making room for new people in our lives?