“A lie with a purpose is one of the worst kind, and the most profitable.” Finley Peter Dunne (Journalist and Humorist)
It would be easy here to go on a rant about charlatans and those who promise the reveal the “secrets” of success in their field for ONLY some number of dollars ending in 99. It would be easy here to rant about those speakers who deceive their audiences in various ways to lure them into expensive seminars or workshops that don’t really add much value to the lives of their customers. For those speakers have customers and not students. There’s a difference there that matters a great deal, but that’s a fight for another time.
Instead, the kind of lie that I’m reminded about today is the knowing lie that’s told out of weakness or ignorance. It’s not the experienced and mature professional who uses this kind of lie, but the beginner. I’m reminded of the admonition to never, ever borrow someone else’s story. I’m reminded of the lesson we learned from Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.”
Those who borrow the stories or lessons of others and then try to pass them off as their own are doing their students/audience members and themselves a terrible disservice. First, borrowed stories and lessons almost never have the full impact they should. Used properly, a story helps do two things: it illustrates a point and makes it more memorable; second, it strengthens the bond between teacher and learner so the learner becomes more invested in the teacher’s wisdom.
If you use someone else’s story or another’s lesson, you’re reducing the chances that your learners will bond with you. Which will reduce your opportunity to influence them and to create the effect you desire with your presentation. And then, there’s the most important reason of all.
Using others’ materials and stories is simply dishonest, and that will wreck your credibility. When you lose your credibility, your audience will stop listening.
Why would you risk that? Credibility is everything, and being authentic in your work is one of the two essential keys to credibility. The other is value, and we’ll get to that another day.