Denial and self-deception can ruin careers | Inquirer Business
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Denial and self-deception can ruin careers

/ 01:55 AM September 13, 2015

IN 4 B.C., the Greek statesman Demosthenes said, “Nothing is easier than self-deception. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”

This is part of human nature, and this is one reason why careers and organizations are ruined. Businessmen and professionals are not spared from this malady. It is not an all or nothing proposition; it is a continuum with “accepting reality” on one end and “denial” on the other. People and organizations continue to determine, consciously or subconsciously, where they fall on that continuum.


Historic Model T

Henry Ford, one of the greatest industrialists who ever walked the earth, refused to admit that car buyers were becoming interested in style, not just substance. Ford opened his first automobile factory in 1903 with 125 men in Detroit’s Mack Avenue. By the early 1920s, Ford was making 60 percent of America’s cars and more than half of the world’s, in his giant factory beside the River Rouge and other sites, with over 100,000 employees. Ford said in 1922, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants as long as it is black.” Black was the color of the Model T, the universal car that Ford produced for the longest time.


In 1920, Pierre Du Pont bought General Motors and hired Alfred Sloan to run it. GM’s strategy was the opposite of Ford’s “universal car.” GM had “a car for every purse and purpose – Chevrolet for the hoi polloi, Pontiac for the poor but proud, Oldsmobile for the comfortable but discreet, Buick for the striving, and Cadillac for the rich.” By 1925, Ford’s sales went flat and market share declined from 54 to 45 percent. Ford didn’t see danger there. In 1926, the New York Times quoted Ford, “The Ford car will continue to be made the same way … I am not governed by anybody’s figures but my own information and observation.”

By the end of WWII, Ford’s company was at the edge of bankruptcy. His grandson Henry Ford II took over and turned the business around, with the help of the “Whiz Kids.”

The New Coke

On April 23, 1985, the Coca-Cola Company launched the New Coke at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York. The CEO highlighted “the boldest move in the history of the packaged-goods business as the surest move ever made, because the new taste of Coke was shaped by the taste of the consumer.”

The press people asked if the switch was in response to the Pepsi Challenge results that showed a majority of consumers chose Pepsi over Coke in blind taste tests. The CEO replied, “Oh, gosh, no! The Pepsi Challenge? When did that happen?” The denial of Coke’s top brass was a disaster. Pepsi’s CEO believed that Coke was pulling out its main product from the market in order to reformulate Coke to taste more like Pepsi.

After 79 days, on July 11, 1985, Coca-Cola reintroduced the original formula as the Coca-Cola Classic. New Coke was renamed Coke II and discontinued in 2002. On January 30, 2009, Classic was removed from the last bottles of the original Coke.



Denial & self-deception can be corrected & turned around into effectiveness and success. Don’t disregard facts or twist them or invent lies.

• Deal with it now. Often, the handwriting on the wall is clear. But people don’t accept the new reality. When in denial, you’re apart from reality. You can’t see the crisis. Before you know it, it’s too late. Life is short. Deal with denial now. The best time was perhaps a year ago. The second best time is now.

• Don’t twist facts for your convenience. People in denial will twist or invent facts to suit their thinking. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sherlock Holmes explains to Dr. Watson, “Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” This can be done alone or with a group. You spread lies that you think as truths, convince others to believe you and, when they believe you, you embolden your beliefs in the shared illusions, crazy rationalizations, twisted facts and denial that you spawn in others.

• Power not only corrupts; it deranges. Lord Acton tells of power that corrupts & corrupts absolutely. People in power are surrounded by “yes-men”; few will challenge what they say, and their denial is further reinforced.

• Take a long-term perspective. People in denial are focused on the short-term. Look to the future. If you are in power, it is easy to hurl accusations. But if you live in a glass house, or have not been truly upright in your remote or recent past, don’t engage anyone in a stone-throwing contest.

Denial and self-deception can ruin careers – including yours.

People management

Undeniably, a much-awaited event is happening on October 12-14, 2015 at the Marriot Grand Ballroom Manila. The People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) will hold its 52nd Annual Conference, with the theme, “HR PILIPINAS: PEOPLE AGENDA AND BEYOND.”

Day 1’s Plenary 1 features “Weaving the People Agenda,” with PMAP’s 2008 President Ric Abadesco as Session Chair.

Plenary 2 highlights “People Agenda and Beyond,” featuring invited speakers – Jollibee Food Corporation President Jose Tanbuntiong and Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

Day 1 ends with Fellowship Night.

Day 2 features concurrent sessions: CEOs Outlook on Emerging Workforce Issues and HR Trends” by a selected CEO; Carmen Melissa Antonio, SVP of Nestlé Philippines — “Creating an Employee Value Proposition for Millennials”; Sheel Majumdar, HR Director of Microsoft Philippines – “Radically Future-Proofing Performance Management”; Jesper Madsen, Country HR Director of Accenture and Javier Vincent Rufino, Director for Mobile, Inquirer Group — “Social Media Impact on the Employment Cycle”; Vibhas Ratanjee, Senior Practice Expert, Gallup- “Stren-gths-based Leadership: Fixing the Leadership Gap in Southeast Asia”; Evelyn Salagubang, SVP & Group Head, Banco de Oro – “Managing Global Workforce during Restructuring and Transitions”; Ann Margaret Santiago, Group Head, HRMD, Smart Communications – “Essential Competencies of HR Change Leaders”

The afternoon concurrent sessions include: A Workshop on Financial Literacy” by Sunlife; “Compensation and Benefits Optimization” by the Compensation Management Society of the Philippines and Towers Watson; “Ethics in Recruitment”; “Equality in the Workplace: Diversity and Inclusion”; “Green Working Environment”; “The Realities of Organizational Justice” by 2014 PMAP President Atty. Josephus Jimenez; and “PMAP Under 30: Emerging HR Leaders” by Lito de Guzman, VP-HR, Glaxo Smithkline Philippines.

Day 2 ends with the 2015 PMAP Awards Night, where the People Manager of the Year (PMY), People Program of the Year (PPY) & the Employer of the Year (EOY) will be recognized.

Day 3 plenary sessions: “Religious Diversity & its Influence on People Management”; “Regional Diversity in People Management”; “The HR Sphere of Influence in Selecting Nations’ Lea-ders” by Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, President & CEO, Philippine Daily Inquirer; and “Emulate the Best, Benchmark with the Best” by Ramon Segismundo, SVP & Head, HR and Corporate Services, Meralco.

For information or registration assistance, contact Cacay Ponce de Leon at +632 726 1532 or visit PMAPAnnualConference.

PMAP President Obet Policarpio and Vice President Jesse Rebustillo are managing this year’s Annual Conference. This is the annual event organized by the premier organization of HR practitioners in the Philippines (since 1956), not by just any other event organizer.
(Ernie Cecilia is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He also chairs the Accreditation Council for the PMAP Society of Fellows in People Management. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at [email protected]

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TAGS: Career, denial, People Management, self-deception
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