When fear leads to deception

When Fear Leads to Self Deception

On the grand scheme of deception I suppose this ranks low on the Richter scale. But early tremors are deceiving, and reveal important indicators of our fault lines.

The Backstory

Sebastian (for those just tuning in, my youngest son, age 9) came out of the womb running. The son of two marathon runners and triathletes, he was tousled in the womb and spent hours sleeping and giggling in the baby jogger, so much so that we needed a new set of tires.

So when he came in second as a kindergartener on the “most laps around the school in an hour walk-a-thon,” we thought of the small pond and kept encouraging humility. The next few years he continued to improve his lap count and eventually won.

Which brings us to this morning (3rd grade), the dawn of the annual event, when Sebastian announced, “I’m not going to run this year, it’s important that I just walk with my friend Sammy, we have a lot to talk about.”

Now, it’s ABSOLUTELY true that Seb and Sam, best friends like brothers, have lots to talk about.

Both of their grandmothers are dying and they have both been actively involved in one another’s scenes. Their grown-up conversations in the back seat of my car trump the sincerity of most grown-ups I know.

They have also lived like brothers in one another’s homes, accelerated by our need for collaborative child-care during both our scenes. They talk day and late into the night.

So yes, I buy it. And I don’t.

Glad To Have a Why-er in the House

As luck would have it Uncle Luke was spending the night, visiting from Seattle on a business trip. I quickly called in the breakfast-time reinforcements.

He asked a few “Why” questions, and before we knew it, we heard of the new contender, ironically also called Luke, who was the sure bet to win.

The Bigger Conversation

When Sebastian admitted his Luke-fear, the real conversation began.

He didn’t want to risk his legacy of the kindergarten wonder… easier to be the cool guy who no longer cares.

He was getting ready to be a one-hit wonder.

At 9.

The Race

He ran the race. Luke came in first. Both won.

For You and Me

It’s so easy to revel in our wins and declare victory.

Are you stuck at your best year?

What’s possible next if you don’t care if that reputation is destroyed?

Why not blow it up for something bigger that will really change the game?

Posted in confident humility and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. Perfect post for a Monday morning Karin. I used to be one who makes myself wrong so that others cannot. Mostly gone, but sometimes sneaks back in. Thank YOU for the great reminder at the start of the week, though welcome anytime!

  2. You have one brave and wise young son, Karin!

    It is so easy and safe to convince ourselves that we can’t possibly grow any more as leaders. We think we’ve done enough to make our mark. For me to jump out of bed in the morning I constantly need to be expanding my mind and heart. Lifelong learning is my energy source and I can’t rest without knowing I’ve made a difference somewhere on any given day. Even if it’s little.

    Excellent post Karin and insightful as always!

    • Terri, Thanks so much. I always think that if we’re not at least a little scared, we’re not trying hard enough.

  3. Fear of failure runs deep in all of us, Karin.

    Seb illustrates that this fear is an innate emotion that is survival driven…no wonder it continues to grow as we reach adulthood when things like ego also get mixed into the equation.

    As we experiment with what works, and what doesn’t, the natural result of those experiments will be success or failure as we tweak each approach.

    Thanks for a great reminder that we all need to keep moving forward!

    • Thanks, LaRae. You bring up a great point about experimentation, and the need to remember that failure is all part of that process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.