Chapter 6

What Are You Pretending Not to Know?

That is one of the best questions I have ever been asked: What are you pretending not to know?

Most people go through life with some level of pretending. Our earliest childhood games involved pretending, and those games helped us learn to interact with each other and the world. Childhood pretending has many positive effects.

Interestingly enough, adult pretending tends to have a negative impact. It can actually diminish your self-esteem and erode your credibility. You know from your own experiences that it causes problems when you pretend things are different than they are. It is likely that you’ve worked for a person who pretended not to know things, looked the other way when problems occurred, or acted in a way that didn’t align with what you knew was true. It probably made it challenging to maintain a healthy level of respect for that person.

In the previous chapter, we looked at the power of denial and how that denial can help you be effective. Here, we’ll explore how your own pretending or the pretending of your followers can limit effectiveness. For the purposes of leadership, pretending is acting as if something exists, or does not exist, when you know deep in your core that the opposite is true.

So how does pretending differ from denial? The biggest difference is that pretending means you know something but act as if you don’t. You can pretend not to know both positive things and negative things. You can act as if you don’t ...

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