Winners never cheat; cheaters never win. Did everyone teach you that phrase when you were a child? Nice words but is it really true?
Last week we learned that Emory University falsified its student data and thereby intentionally sought to inflate its rankings among colleges for a decade. Lying is a pride issue: we usually lie when we think too highly of ourselves and want others to think that way of us as well. Lying conceals the truth and focuses more on style than on real substance. We lie because we are not truly comfortable with who we are. We want more – more status, or more money, or more power.
Rich Karlgaard has called this the “age of cheats.” He makes an excellent point. The financial meltdown of 2008 was built on a bonfire of lies, from Fannie Mae’s untruths to deceptive mortgage lenders to misleading loan applicants. Why? Everyone wanted to be bigger than they actually were.
Recently, Atlanta teachers helped their students cheat on standardized tests. Why? So the teachers and schools would look better than they actually are. The same with cheating athletes like Melky Cabrera, and possibly Lance Armstrong. And sadly, no one even expects politicians to tell the truth anymore. Even President Obama wrote an autobiography based on fabrications, which he admitted to this year. Why? He wanted to project a portrait of himself not altogether in line with reality.
Cheating and lying often does win…in the short term. But in reality, you and I will grow healthy and strong only when we embrace the truth. And it starts with taking a long look in the mirror. The truth will set you free.