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January 14, 2017

Delete Your Own Fake News

We come up with news headlines about ourselves all the time. If you think of yourself as the editor of your own personal newspaper, what would be the lead stories and breaking news? What’s the dominant narrative you’re creating?

It turns out that much of the news we create about ourselves is, well, fake. It’s written by the self-critic inside of us who masquerades as a legitimate and impartial journalist. That’s actually the most dangerous part. If we don’t become more aware of the fact that this particular journalist is creating fake news, we take it as truth. We internalize it. We share it. We act on it.

What headlines make their way into your fake news? Maybe a few of the following:

  • I’ll be in this undesirable job forever
  • I’m going to fail
  • I’m an imposter. At some point, they’ll discover me
  • If I speak up, I’ll be judged
  • I can’t navigate conflict so I better not say anything
  • I’ll never be able to pursue my real passion for a living
  • I’m just not leader material
  • I’m not any good at what I do
  • To be successful, I have to accept high levels of stress
  • I’m stuck
  • I won’t get through this challenging or transitional time


Your performance, contributions and impact on the world are too important to be hijacked by these bogus headlines. You know it and I know it.

Here are a few steps you can take to delete your own fake news:

  1. Play the Role of Proof Reader, Not Daily Subscriber: Start paying more attention to the headlines that dominate your own personal newspaper. What do you notice? What are they saying? Write them down as part of a regular weekly reflection exercise. How many of your headlines are self-defeating and negative? How many of them are about the future or past rather than the present? How many of them are coming primarily from the self-critic journalist? What’s true and what’s based only on fear, shame, defensiveness or defeat?
  1. Hire Other Journalists: Your metaphorical personal newspaper will benefit from a variety of perspectives and voices. Consider “hiring” other journalists, ones that focus on successes, lessons-learned, curiosity, gratitude, relationships and opportunities. Diversify your news with headlines that seek to portray things in a more balanced or objective way. Try out headlines that come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment, such as “What can I learn from this situation?,” or “What went well?,” or “What are other options available to me?,” or “What if I give it a try and see what happens?”
  1. Edit Your Paper Consciously and Carefully: Ultimately, you’re in control of what personal headlines you create, listen to, and translate into action. Know that you have choices here, and take your role as editor seriously. The stories you allow in your paper will definitely influence the type of impact you have on the world around you. The thoughts and related feelings you internalize are inextricably linked to your subsequent actions and results.


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