“Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies…”

Pretty self explanatory right?

Don’t repay lie for lie, evil for evil. Don’t fight fire with fire.

I’ve unfortunately been the subject of a lot of lies, in the form of gossip, in the professional arena of my life during the last year. Maybe the gossip was justified.

Why would I say that?

Well, as the leader in my workplace, in the last year I’ve had to deliver some bad news, implement unpleasant changes in the workplace as well as deliver the termination of a team member. There were also a lot of changes on a macro level that were beyond my control, but I was the messenger and implementer.

So maybe they needed a target, someone to vent at.

While inexcusable in my mind, it also seems understandable that I would be a natural vent for the frustrations they held.

I had chosen to keep my life private from my team, trying to walk that line of being personable but understanding “familiarity breeds contempt”. But it’s not hard noticing changes with someone you spend 7-9hrs per day with, I suppose. So when things began to change in my personal life, people began making assumptions and talking. As the main character, Wayne, says in the show Letterkenny, “Bad gas travels fast in a small town…”.

Can confirm, Wayne, can confirm.

While it is easy to read “don’t deal in lies” as fighting fire with fire, I’m also reading it as not entertaining or getting involved with the lies about yourself. Where some people might feel the need to jump at their own defense because they cannot look bad no matter what.

You don’t have to justify yourself to everyone, everywhere. Don’t be that guy.

It reminds me of a lyric from Dr. Dre’s “What’s the difference?” that goes,

“It ain’t that I’m too big to listen to the rumors, it’s just that I’m too damn big to pay attention to ’em…”

Those people in your closest circles, who’ve earned your trust, respect, honor, who know your story; the intimate details of your life: They deserve clarity and understanding.

It’s not deserved, it’s earned.

If people lie and gossip, fine.

You have nothing to prove to them.

So, I chose to keep silent; curb the gossip as best I could. Reminding them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that our focus needs to be on work, not people’s private lives. I tried to continue leading as best as possible. Why? Well, on my desk I have a piece of paper that reminds me of the burden and honor of leadership. A couple of the sentences read as follows,

“If my team doesn’t respect me, it is because I have failed to earn their respect every day.

If my team doesn’t trust me and respond to my leadership, it is because I have failed to give them good enough reason to trust me and follow my lead.”

I could point the finger all day. Waste time dealing in the lies or return gossip for gossip; lulling myself into an ego-absorbed fiction of why they did it, or I could look at it from another angle and just focus on the oft cliché “one thing” I can control: me.

I could focus on leading and let my actions, hopefully, turn their attention from their current plaything as I work to earn their respect and trust.