Karin’s Leadership Articles

You're Not Fooling Them

by | Jul 5, 2013 | Authenticity & Transparency, By Karin Hurt

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit”
~ Elbert Hubbard

Hearts quietly murmur truth, while actions out our fool. Fooling around tricks few.

You’re Not Fooling Them

You’re not fooling them when you say:

  • customers come first, but metrics scream financials
  • work-life balance is vital, but you call them on vacation
  • they’re high-potential, but their career is stagnated
  • you value development, but keep cancelling training
  • you believe in transparency, and withhold information
  • teamwork is paramount, and reward backstabbers
  • ?

You’re Not Fooling You

You’re not fooling you when you say:

  • my family comes first, and leave no time for them
  • health is important, but don’t exercise
  • you believe in empowerment, but micromanage under stress
  • it’s not about the money, but stay in a job you hate
  • you always tell the truth, and tell a little white lie
  • you believe in transparency, but tell your boss what she wants to hear
  • ?

There’s always a justification, a reason, for “just this once.”

Our human struggle is to stop fooling ourselves into believing we’ll do it differently tomorrow.

Tap into instincts to be what you feel. Live deeply from that place.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    Karin- what a beautiful post!

    In Arabic we say what means “Hearing your talk fills my heart with joy. Seeing your actions send me crazy”.
    Trust bases itself on credibility and reliability. Talking sweetly to send people in one direction. For these people to see actions at odd with talks send them to the opposite direction. The result is mistrust and confusion.
    Surely, we may only fool some people for sometimes. Once the sunny truth shines it melts the pile of false ice we stand on and we sink.

    • Bob

      Great stuff Ali!

      I’ve heard that Arabic is an amazingly descriptive language. So much to learn from an ancient culture!

      I just have to add though, that there is a real challenge here. Many people don’t realize that there actions and words do not align. This just happens over time. Well meaning as they might be, they have drifted from the truth and have been too busy to look back. As a matter of fact, I would hope that holidays, like many of us have this week, are a great time to reflect on these types of issues. I know I sure have…

      • Ali Anani (@alianani15)

        Thanks for your remarkable observation and remarks. I agree. people need to stop and breathe. They need to reflect on what they say and do. I wish you a lovely holiday and fresh and juvenile look at self.
        You are right. Arabic language is full of metaphors. That is why I read a lot of Arabic poetry.

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Ali, What a great quote. Thanks for adding that. Hmmm… sunny truth on melting ice… powerful image.

    • Ali Anani (@alianani15)

      Karin, believe me these descriptions flow when I am reading a lovely post. This is the outcome of your wonderful writings.

  3. letsgrowleaders

    Bob, I hope your vacation was wonderful. I am really looking forward to mine. I do think that’s the best time to reflect… It’s amazing what comes up when you’re not looking. Namaste.

  4. Dave Bratcher

    Great post Karin. Nothing is more frustrating to me than when a company is “guided” by something larger than themselves, when every decision is made to build up “SELF”! As Mother Teresa used to say, “Only use words if necessary.” Our actions should say it all…and they do!

  5. Craig Slater

    Great quote! So very true. I think that being a damn fool helps make you wiser.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Craig, Thank goodness there’s an upside to all this foolishness 😉

  6. Sharon Reed

    Karin – It is indeed all about walking our talk and living our truth. Great post!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Sharon, So great to see you here. Thanks so much. I hope you will come back and continue to add to our LGL conversation.

  7. Steve Borek

    The leader is always being watched. Every move is scrutinized.

    What you say. What you don’t say.
    What you do. What you don’t do.
    How you spend your time.

    Followers want honest leaders that do what they say they would do.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Steve. Yes! Thanks for all you do to grow honest leaders. Namaste.

  8. Jonathan

    LOVE this post! I know for me, the key is to do the work around knowing, and nurturing, your own true north. We are all put in positions where our convictions are tested or stretched due to stress, pressure, or conflicting goals. So I think the more work leaders do on their own non negotiables, the temptations can be mitigated to walk a different walk than you talk.

    But it has to be worked on regularly. It’s like any muscle, without working it out, it can atrophy over time. I also try to put checks and balances in my environments. Example…if my team feels that I am being less than transparent, they are regularly encouraged to call it out. And when they do, I celebrate those moments so they feel safe to continue to behave in that manner. They should keep me honest…hold my feet to the fire as I certainly hold theirs. We are all human and prone to failure. Strong support structures hold up the standards to a higher structural integrity than any individual would normally be able to support.

    Again, fantastic post Karin!

    • Ali Anani (@alianani15)

      I entirely agree with your comment. Feedback between all parties, collaborators, leaders and followers and the whole list is the only way to lead without false assumptions. I like the way you encourage feedback.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Thanks so much. So great to see you here. We do all feel the pull… and the pull is strong. Working hard on our values matters so much. The other day, a leader said to me, “you are much less willing to flex on your core values than many I know.” Not sure if that was meant as a compliment or a warning. Felt good to me.

  9. Jim Ryan

    Great post Karin. Fools destroy their trust. Without it people stop following.

  10. Matt McWilliams

    For me it was the family comes first.

    It’s not hard…I just made rules.


    I will there almost every day (about 28 days each month) when my daughter wakes up and spend a few minutes with her first thing in the morning.

    I will eat dinner with my family every day that I am in town.

    I will spend all day Sunday with them.

    I will read to our daughter, pray as a family, and put her to bed every night that I am in town.

    I will spend at least an hour one day each week during the day doing something fun with them.

    I will spend at least 5 nights each week after we put our daughter down just talking with my wife.

    Add all that up and it is a lot of time together. But the “sacrifices” from work are so small when I looked at them.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Those are great rules! I have never been able to keep my life that structured… mostly due to the travel. When I work with rules, I find them difficult to follow. I’ve found “seasons” works pretty well for me. Headed into a nice one with my family on vacation. Have been having a hectic one at work and with LGL storing up to be able to let go. http://letsgrowleaders.com/2013/04/10/chaos-sacrifices-and-seasons/

  11. Lolly Daskal

    I am always drawn to the heart as you know Karin,

    Are we really fooling ourselves because our heart knows, our body feels it, but it is the mind that lies to us.

    If we truly stopped and asked ourselves what we really feel, what we really sense – we would say to you. You are right … I am not fooling anyone AND….

    my family does not comes first AND I am SCARED.
    I know my health is important AND I am LAZY.
    I am under tremendous stress AND I am not sure how to be CALM down.
    I hate my job AND I am FRIGHTENED to be unemployed
    I tell little white lie AND they make you feel SAFE ( for now).

    We are not fooling anyone … that is for sure.


    • letsgrowleaders

      Lolly, love these “ANDs”. And after sitting with these “ANDs” I wonder… what’s next?

  12. Dave Arnold

    Great post! Found this link on Skip’s site. It’s so important to mean what you say & do what you say. The key is consistency. Thanks for this.


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