The greatest work of fiction ever

When I argue with reality, I lose, but only 100 percent of the time.” – Byron Katie

The greatest works of fiction are the lies and half-truths we tell ourselves.

So often, overwhelmed by our doubts and fears, we fail to even try something new or ask for what we want.

“That will never work.” “She will never agree with me.” “I’m not the sort of person that can be good at that.” We are defeated before we even start.

At other times we make up a very different story.

“If I just work harder, I’ll get that promotion.” “We just need more data to convince the boss.” “My company is really committed to innovation.” Here, our need to control or to be right is running the ship. Disappointment looms on the horizon.

In both instances we are suffering from a disease of perception–a failure to see situations as they really are.

In both instances, we are the authors of the story.

Fiction is fun to read, but believing–and acting!–on fictional stories that we have authored ourselves is about as good a definition of insanity as you are likely to find.

4 thoughts on “The greatest work of fiction ever

  1. Great post! I once saw a book titled “Leadership and Self-Deception”. Unfortunately, the content didn’t follow the superb suggestion nailed by the heading.

    I particularly like your observation of both the optimistic and pessimistic versions of self-deception.

    One of my favorite for retail products is “that’s been tried”. But execution is so critical that even if a product is the belle of the Housewares show before sitting on the shelf, the truth we need to focus on is whether it was really tried – with consumers.

    Thanks for the great read.

  2. Kathy Bates, exceptionally playing Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” ( currently in theatres), is surrounded by such out-of-touch characters as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Dali, Monet, and others. In their time, any would have fit the definition of ‘insanity’. In that film, the protagonist is an emergent delusionist (or was it merely the anxieties of a “mid-life crisis”), played by Owen Wilson, who benefits from Stein’s mentoring and channeling. Maybe the best hope for the productively insane among us is to be influenced and focussed by other remarkable people, so to be recognized while still alive. Of course, some of us might be just unremarkably insane. But how to tell the difference? Ah, there is a central problem for managers of otherwise high-potential employees.

    Thanks, Stephen. Your perspectives and writings are sure signs that you are unlikely to be friended into a social network run by delusionals. Excepting, of course, in a role as Gertrude Stein.


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