Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Self-Betrayal: Sabotaging Success

Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 6, 2016

The fatal flaw to success, a flaw so personal and painful that most people avoid its truth at all costs, an avoidance that derails more dreams than all other obstacles combined, is self-betrayal. Of all the challenges facing leaders today, perhaps none has more impact on the community’s success than personal character. After all, leadership is character in motion and how can someone have character if he betrays himself?

Self-Betrayal to Self-Deception

Self-Betrayal to Self-Deception

Self-betrayal begins the moment a person does not follow through on his personal commitments. This type of betrayal is so difficult to detect because its so subtle. For instance, maybe the reader set a goal to get up early and study or exercise before work, but when the alarm went off, you quickly shut it off and rationalized you needed sleep more than following through on your commitment to yourself. Of course, this “little” lie fuels further compromises and before long lying to oneself has become a habit. In fact, any time you make a commitment to yourself, and do not follow through, you have taught yourself that lying is acceptable. This is where most people fail – personal character to one’s self. I know. I know. No one likes to be called a liar, but how many times have you committed to do something and didn’t follow through? I’m not talking about commitments to others, but rather personal commitments.

I still remember the day, reading underneath a huge maple tree at lunch, when Stephen Covey kicked me below the belt. He said, “Many times success begins with mind over mattress!” Ugh! That one hurt, because I had made hundreds of excuses for why I just couldn’t be more disciplined in Bible studies, believing I had too much work to do. Covey’s statement changed my perspective, helping me realize that my self-betrayal had already progressed into self-deception – where I convinced myself that lying was ok if it was only to myself. In reality, however, if one cannot tell the truth to himself, he stands no chance of telling the truth to others. Internal character, in a word, always precedes external character.

At the risk of saying too much, for today’s age doesn’t like self-analysis much, probably because these matters hit too close to home for most people and if thought upon for long, they would have to address some of the personal issues. Nevertheless, I believe self-deception is the biggest killer of dreams in the world! People deceive themselves to avoid changing, but the price for this avoidance is their own success. The self-betrayal blooms into self-denial and then people become offended if others dare to question their impeccable character. 🙂 Most people react defensively, thinking, “How dare anyone question my character when I have spent years rationalizing it to myself?”

In all seriousness, I have never given a talk, nor written an article, without the guns first being directed at myself. I, along with every other human being, cannot live our ideals 100% of the time. I am in need of the grace of Jesus Christ just as much, if not more, than you are. Still, why get offended at truth? How is this going to help you change? Indeed, when a person gets offended at unpalatable facts, its a sure sign that self-betrayal is leading to self-deception. Truth has been sacrificed on the altar of personal ego.

If the reader will grant me just a little more time, I would like to suggest a remedy for self-betrayal. The Bible states, “those who are faithful in the little things will be faithful in the bigger things.” Did you catch that? Character begins by being faithful in the little things that if avoided, no one would know but you. Many believe this is ok, since you didn’t let anyone else down, but this is a lie from the depths of hell. For a person that would have no qualms about lying to himself, a self he typically loves more than any other human being in existence, will not be a truth-teller to others. Internal lies lead to external ones. If anything, compromises in personal character lead to greater compromises in one’s relationships with others.

Consequently, true character begins with character to self. Once the war for personal character is accomplished, the authentic individual is now ready to treat others with the same level of character. Not surprisingly, in today’s self-betrayal and self-deception age, it’s pretty much a given that leaders with character will suffer attacks from those who have self-betrayed themselves. Since leaders with character grow big communities, simply by the law of averages, they will have people who perpetually lie to themselves join their community. Naturally, albeit ironically, the people who have cheated and lied to themselves the most are the ones who shout the loudest that others have lied and cheated them. Playing the victim, evidently, is their key strategy to not have to address the lies keeping them from success.

The simple, but painful, truth is no matter how much a leader wants to help others, he truly can’t help until they are ready to help themselves. Self-liars must confront reality and admit it’s their own lies keeping them in bondage. For when people resist truth they are also fighting the change that would set them free. Nonetheless, when people have spent a lifetime betraying themselves, giving up for the umpteenth time in life, their self-deception quickly identifies the reason for the failure and they play the victim card once again. Self-deception has so entrapped them in a web of lies that the truth can no longer set them free. Thus, they are sentenced to a life of victimhood unless God’s graces pierces the veil and wakes them up to this eternal truth, namely, as Shakespeare said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Heraclitus once said, “Character is fate” and I concur. Character is an inside job and only those who develop character will ever see longterm success. Start today! What is a personal commitment one can make to yourself, you family, your community? Make the commitment and keep it! Quit betraying yourself and your dreams! Quit playing the blame game! Get out there and achieve to serve the greater community! This is your mind over mattress, or to add others, life over lies, and purpose over pokemon moment! 🙂

Remember, success is three things. 1) What does one want? 2) What does it cost? 3) Pay it! Only when a person accepts responsibility for his life will he determine what he want, determine its cost, and then pay it! What area of your life are you ready to stop self-betrayal and let the truth set you free? 


Orrin Woodward: LIFE Chairman of the Board

51 Responses to “Self-Betrayal: Sabotaging Success”

  1. Tammy Darling said

    Thank you for always speaking the truth and helping us learn & grow!!! You & Laurie are TRUE LEADERS TO FOLLOW!!! God bless y’all!!!!

  2. JB Thompson said

    Great post Orrin. I think sometimes our unconscious mind plays tricks on us by narrowing our Reticular Activation System and showing us only what we have made the decision to believe. Is this what you are referring to when you talk about self-deception? The fact that someone has convinced themself that a thing is true, when it is debatable the amount of truth it holds.
    Very enlightening. Have an awesome day!

  3. Chris Miller said

    Thank you for shining light on this topic. Reflecting back the last few years of my life I can see how I have done this in multiple areas. And I noticed when I did it in one area it started leaking into the others as well. That must change thanks for the heads up!!!

  4. Tim Miller said

    Thanks for being the example of your writing! We appreciate all you do!

  5. As you have said Orrin, “The truth shall set you free but first it ticks you off.” I love that saying. Lots of ammunition here for inner reflection.

  6. Salynda Owens said

    Deception is everywhere, but what I like most about what you have shared is that it mainly matters to one self in self-deception. You always know how to speak the truth in love. The word teaches us that there is a time for everything and the world is in need of deep cleasing, to be showered with reproof and correction in the time of constant deception in these end days. The Lord has been dealing with me in the area of being humble before Him, myself and others. As I begin to gain better understandin of this concept, I began to see the truth as He has been revealing it me. Recognizing my faults and self deception. Thank you for your word of truth and allowing God to use you during these treacherous times in the world. To God be all the glory

  7. Danny Campisi said

    I love this! The best part is purpose over Pokemon!!!!

  8. Phil Mette' said

    Its been said that life without a purpose is like taking a train off of its tracks. True, it is now free, but where will it go? What will it accomplish? The tracks are for a train what staying focused is to our purpose, allows us to ride over the immediate rocks & conquer the sometimes rugged terrain to get along the journey God has for us. Thank you Orrin for staying on the tracks, (and moving forward) and setting an example in areas that most get de-railed from.

  9. Jeff Campbell said

    Thank you for being willing to be unpopular by speaking the truth! I am so grateful for the forward movement in my life I have experienced by your willingness to confront brutal reality and invite others (like me) to do the same.

  10. Olivier Jean-Baptiste said

    Thanks Orrin!
    I think that the understanding and acceptance of the Grace of God is very important and vital asset to empower someone to fight self-betrayal and develop character. I often find myself worshiping two divinities; namely the God of Abraham and society ( other’s opinion). The former is eternal , loving, forgiving and is the North Star (the reference point in all thing) while the latter is temporal, judgmental, self-center, and utility driven ( change its standards based on self intrest).

    Forever lost am I if don’t know how put the two in the proper perspective and adjust my internal compas with respect to the Northern Star but instead constantly avoid the mirror test and engage in self-deception because I fear the opinions of others.

    It is easier said than done but I think that the Grace of God combined with personal courage is what it takes. Both can be bestowed upon us by God when we ask but it takes our personal will to do the walking.

  11. Aron Radosa said

    WOW! That is so true! For many years in business, I thought I lived by the P.D.C.A. (plan, do, check, and adjust) rule. Each month, I took a look at my business results, made some adjustments and went back to work. And over and over => same results. I would tweak another spot and then go to work. Repeat and repeat. What was the true results– frustration! What I had done on a repeated level was skip the “check” part – To look into one’s work with a critical eye for moving on. I was fearful of the critical eye saying ” I told you so ” so I skipped it. Results– self- deception. And I was living the ‘insanity life’ – doing the same things and expecting different results.

    Things changed when I through your example realized “Character is fate”. I had dropped my character with the expectation of better results. Simply impossible for the long term. Orrin, you once said ” know thyself”. By truly seeing who we are inside God’s infinite grace, we start to shed the layers of self-deception. Now we start to approach our unique self, and all analysis (check) is now for improvement.

    Thank you so much for your constant growth. As we see it modeled, we know gain more strength to tackle our own destiny.
    God Bless,

  12. Bonnie Farris said

    Ouch, but I am so appreciative of the reminder. It is the truth that just needs to be dealt with in our lives. I am ready to do that.

  13. Douglas Broadway said

    Totally ticked off. Thanks Orrin for your insight. Just what I needed this Sunday.

  14. Wow Orrin….. Just wow. I’m so grateful for the Grace of God. I can’t help but feel the pain of so many I deeply care for, and for myself too, guns pointed at me, how freeing this truly is. Because WE ARE IN CONTROL! It really is the little things. Which means they’re little, which means they’re easy. which means we all have control to easily guide our lives to live the life that we’ve always wanted. A life that shines light in darkness all over the world. What is the price? The little things. Let’s pay it!

  15. Steve Duba said

    Thanks O It does help when you address the problem that looks back at you every morning while your brushing your teeth. It truly starts there. The moment you learn to die to self, most everything begins to align itself. Thanks so much for stirring the pot. In Matthew 12:43-44 when the room is swept clean and empty is the critical moment when we must become “filled” with the spirit. This keeps the “Self” part out of the mix. God Bless

  16. Ross said

    Great post again Orrin! Definitely need this today! Thanks again.

  17. Kenyon Robson said

    Thank you for the fantastic post!!

  18. Jan Duba said

    Thanks Orrin and Laurie, I love studying and applying these lessons to my daily life. Not always easy to do, so implementing quick behavior choices makes the next situation easier to resolve. When it becomes second nature (without thinking about it), one truly is a humble servant. That’s what I want to strive to become. Second time reading “Leadership and Self-Deception” Thank you for your help…always timely. 🙂

  19. Heather Mines said

    Self deception and self betrayal: two topics few are willing to face. Thank you for encouraging these concepts to be more clear for all who are willing to take a deeper look within.

  20. Jeremy Arena said


    It’s like you are parent. You’ve been telling me the same thing for years now 🙂 but truth always sounds sweet to the ears, and every time I hear it I start picturing what my life would be like if I had personal character. It always empowers me to start again, to set new goals and believe that it’s possible for me to follow through. Thank you for the constant outpouring of truth Orrin, it makes a big difference in my life. Time to start starting and quit quitting!!

  21. Matt Millen said

    The principle is true – people catch what you are. That you have become the example in this area makes the words even more so carry veracity, credibility and influence. The “who” that you have become supersedes the “what” of your words. How true it is in 2 Cor. 3:6b that “…the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The words of most people die by the murderous hand of their inconsistencies.

    It was said of Vince Lombardi after his death, “The worse thing of his not being here any more is that there are those who will never have the opportunity to know him.”
    That man exuded character, and his players and those who knew him had the chance to catch what he was. Thank you, Orrin, for your influence.

  22. Dave Bailey said

    Thank you Orrin for sharing these truths….especially, “For when a persons avoids truth he also is fighting the change that would free him.”

  23. Leslie Gebhart said

    Thanks for another amazing post Orrin! Excusitis is a symptom of this disease, and it’s an epidemic. Like you pointed out, we really can’t help others until they’re ready to help themselves, so I’m just committing to working on my immune system by looking for (and finding, alas!) my own manifestations of self delusion and eradicating them.
    Thanks for being such a great role model!

  24. David Aguilar said

    Orrin, Thank you for the challenging words, and along with the leaders you keep sending out to represent LL… The Seminar this weekend in St. Louis was amazing! Hearing Steve and Beth Morgan truly was incredible, what a heart felt couple, filled with passion, but in particular Steve’s explaining that steering wheel moment when you don’t know if you can go on, and he said something that made realize the story I’ve been telling myself is an old chapter, and he said, “tear out a new piece of paper and start writing a new story!” Thanks Steve for HOPE!

  25. Very good and very true. James warns that to be a “hearer of the word and not a doer” is to deceive oneself. Jesus says those who are “doers” of His words are the ones who build upon the rock. Hearers only are built upon shifting sand. I pray that Life Leadership raises up more and more and more DOERS- men and women who act upon truth and help others do the same.

  26. Pat Edwards said

    Truth is sacrificed on the alter of personal ego. The fact that we are self-deceived is so difficult to accept because it require us to put our ego aside, look at ourselves in the mirror, evaluate ourselves and take responsibility for change. That takes a dream and COURAGE!! Thanks again Orrin for a powerful wake up call! I think my ego is bruised LOL

  27. Steven Hall said

    Thank you for this honest and insightful look at why most of us are not moving forward thank you

  28. Ashley Chambers said

    Thank you so much for this much needed post! I love how you just give it to us straight and give us what we need to succeed. You and Laurie have been such a blessing in my families life! Gos bless you and your family!

  29. Isn’t it interesting that when leaders, or self perceived leaders, talk about showing and having character, it is almost always in context of their dealings with others. Character is rarely something we thing about in terms of self. How can I lack character to myself? Well you can as Orrin has so ably laid out here. More leaders need to understand the concept of character to self, then maybe we can start to heal the massive issues plaguing our collective societies! On to a million people (and leaders)!

  30. tammy pethke said

    You are so right it starts with myself you put it that I really think the 2 X 4 just hit me I needed that to understand that if I don’t keep my commitments how do I expect others to. Love the article! Thank you for all You and laurie do.

  31. Danny Kellenberger said


    Great message!! Truth is painful but then helpful. I appreciate your willingness to say what needs to be said whether we want to hear it or not. I pray you never stop!
    Carpe Diem

  32. David Kangas said

    “Why get offended at truth? How is this going to help you change?” Wow, didn’t know a 2×4 between the eyes could feel so enlightening. You just jacked up my posture meter big time! Thank you for sharing your words of knowledge and time with us.

  33. Elizabeth Sieracki said

    The truth hurts….thank you for not mincing words. Great post!!

  34. Tammy CableTammy said

    No attack coming from this humbled woman. Deep appreciation for your inspired words. Yes, the truth hurts a little sometimes but it also immediately starts the healing process 😀 Thanks for your love and concern for the world!

  35. Micah Kramer said

    What an awesome reminder to take stock of our own thinking, motives and actions to keep us out of the box…. Even as I read the article, I felt the emotional desire to point externally and blame others for the faults I see in their words and deeds….though by God’s grace, I’ve been forgiven and accepted, so I know I must must return to the mirror, where I can confront reality and change it. Thanks for teaching and reminding all of us the depths of true leadership and how to work on addressing our own self deception!

    Sincerely Yours,
    Micah Kramer

  36. Sandra A. Montenegro said

    Wow! I am forwarding this article to all my love ones and a cc to me so that I can always keep it in front of me as a reminder to avoid it and to practice. Thanks Orrin, another home run!!

  37. Debora Berryman said

    Wow! I had never thought about me deceiving myself, flowing over on others. I guess I have some work to do here. My # in 30 days is to start my day reading in the bible and leadership books. I was deceiving myself I would read before going to bed, but could not stay awake, morning reading has helped me to keep that commitment.

  38. Paul Martin said

    Tough to read but ABSOLUTELY on target!!! I heard it said, “The devil is in the details.” This article sheads new light on that saying for me!!! Being honest about the outcome of the smallest commitments to ourselves eliminates the “failure” of the small personal but important “foundational” commitments and prepares us for bigger responsibilities. Thanks Orrin! I will definitely read this several times this week!!!

  39. Holger said


    Thank you for this writing!! Wholeheartedly, I agree with it and also second Aron’s comments.

    It all starts with the little things. In the recent past, I have slipped several times in the area of not getting up in the morning when I had committed to myself upon going to bed (alarm set time). So, I am committing to do my best to get up every morning by the time I had promised myself and anybody can hold me accountable. Phil 4:13

    God Bless,


  40. Jim Wilspon said

    Thanks for calling me to task. One of my commitments is to keep on top of your blogs and I haven’t. You are causing me to examine other areas.

  41. Leah Stadel said


    I can’t tell you how blessed I am and how proud I am to be in the environment you have created to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT. Your post is a conversation I have on top of the conversation I somehow get too busy to address. I know for a lot of us women, we get busy with so many things that this core calling of our character is sacrificed. It’s Mary and Martha, it’s all the phases of Saul’s life, and it’s every revolution in history within and among mankind…..being honest with ourselves in front of the audience of one, of Christ himself WHO CALLED US TO OUR PURPOSES AND OUT DREAMS!
    I love that you know you don’t have to apologize for these words you’ve submitted to us, any more than we don’t have to apologize for the Gospel. It pains me to know that in not keeping some of my smallest of commitments, I diminish my testimony. Yes, Christ is faithful in his mercy, but as you say, we have a biblical responsibility to be pure in heart and upstanding in our character. I thank you and Laurie and many many leaders in LIFE for being models in this message.
    Today is the day.

  42. Karleen Conover said

    Ouch! I will forever think of this article each time I reach to slide on the “snooze”. 🙂 Thank you!

  43. Chrissy said

    Wow. So easy to see this in others, yet so easy to slip into it ourselves and not even realize it. Thanks for the amazing article!

  44. Ken Herman said

    Thanks Orrin. This article has reminded me of two things. How much further I have to go on my growth journey and how exciting it is to be doing it in this community. Looking forward to the future me.

  45. Matt Selph said

    Crazy, how everything I am learning all comes together at the same time. I think Heavenly Father is trying to teach me something. 🙂 I think I am finally starting to understand what I am lacking. Thanks for all you do Orrin.

  46. Peter Schmitt said

    Thanks for the writing and sharing this great article Orrin.
    Love the book Leadership and Self-Deception.
    God Bless you and the Leadership,

  47. Jeffrey Shuey said

    Was just on your call & I committed to read this everyday. I’ve been hit with a lot of self-deception recently. “Granted it was hard to take.” Only after I confessed it to someone (who is an great leader to listened to me whine.) did God show me the answer in many forms. I just wanted to say thanks for being the person of honor and character so I can see my faults for what they are something I can change so I can be the man I always wanted to be.

  48. Jim Wilson said

    Thanks, Orrin,
    I have been a member since Life was launched. But, I was in a comfortable or rather tolerable situation and have not used my God-given skills and talent to move us forward. I have not applied the pressure to myself that Chris talked about this weekend. And, that is deceiving myself and certainly betraying myself. There is a too late.
    Jim Wilson

  49. David Cadarette said

    Never a truer statement:

    Naturally, albeit ironically, the people who have cheated and lied to themselves the most are the ones who shout the loudest that others have lied and cheated them. Playing the victim, evidently, is their key strategy to not have to address the lies keeping them from success.

    Truth BOMB!!

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