Success & Motivation: Don’t Lie to Yourself

I learned a lot from Don Nelson when he was coach and GM of the Mavericks. He told me something early on, that opened my eyes. I forget the exact conversation, but we were talking about players, and I asked him why he didnt talk to a specific player about something that was going on. What he said was that “THe worse evaluator of talent is a player trying to evaluate himself.”

The same applies to business people and particularly to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs. We tend to be less than honest with ourselves about our strengths and weaknesses.

I have been just as bad at this as anyone, particularly when I was getting started in the business world. For those of us who dream of starting and running a business, we know that we have to have a level of confidence in our own abilities. We dont want to believe that there are things we cant do. We want to believe that if we try hard enough, work long enough, and get a little lucky, that the sky is the limit. The problem is that we let our confidence cloud our judgements of what we truly know about ourselves.

Im one of the least organized people I know. Today, i have an assistant and others that help me run my life. If you ask me where IM going to be in 3 days. I have no idea. I do know that i have a kick ass assistant who is going to make sure that when i wake up that morning, I know where Im going and how to get there.

When i was 23 years old, sleeping on the floor and starting MicroSolutions, no assistant. No organization. I was a procrastinator. Accounting was a shoebox of receipts. I was a mess.

But I lied to myself and said that I could deal with it. That i would make time to get it all figured out and organized. That if I only set my mind to it, I could be a detail person. I could stop procrastinating. It doesnt work that way.

I did the things I was good at. I could sell. So I sold. I could write software programs. I could integrate PCs. I could set up local area networks. And I did. My business grew. But it also grew out of control A local area network or a software program without documentation is a disaster waiting to happen. And they did. Not to the point where it killed my business, but to the point where I spent far too much time fixing things rather than selling new deals.

Fortunately, one of my best customers at the time was interested in becoming a partner in my business. Martin Woodall ran a company called Hytec Data Systems. He was not only smart and a good programmer, but he was the most anal, detail oriented person I had ever met in my life. The perfect partner for me.

Our partnership wasnt always easy. We had more than our shares of knock down drag out fights. He of course would want everything done with precision and if lack of perfection was an option, he didnt want to do it. I of course was the exact opposite. I was the GO FOR IT guy. We can sort it out after the fact. We were perfect partners. We knew and trusted the skills of the other and although many might not think yelling was the best way to work things out, we managed.

It all came down to choice. I had the choice between lying to myself and pretending that I could turn on a switch and become a details person, or accepting the fact that Im not, and partnering with someone who is. Continuing to lie meant I would probably lose my business.

Every entrepreneur faces comparable choices. Each of us has to face the reality of who we are and what we are.

What choice will you make ?

70 thoughts on “Success & Motivation: Don’t Lie to Yourself

  1. Thanks Mark for a great post.

    Comment by danielmcvicar -

  2. Great post. This applies to everything in life not just entrepreneurs. The number one problem facing most of us is the refusal to see things in an honest light. Our failures are someone else\’s fault. They learn nothing and continue to make the same mistakes. I would think that the 2 most important steps to being successful in anything are to take ownership of your life, and work everyday towards your goals. When we see people in our lives that we consider successful, I believe we find these traits in them all.

    Comment by Chris Price -

  3. The bst choice there is.

    Comment by Avatare -

  4. I love the fact that Mark, a billionaire, takes the time to write about his experiences and honest opinions. A lot of times people allow \”money\” to get to their heads and Mark clearly hasn\’t allowed that to happen.
    My name is Salchi Hansford, I\’m a 24 year old college drop-out who is an \”in the making entrepreneur\”. I dropped out because I realized that life is short and I had to pursue my passions. Passions being motorcycles, sports cars, planes, movies, and video games. I know I\’ll have ventures in all my passions because they are fuel to the fire that burns with in me. So thank you, Mark Cuban, for your blogs because they give me the opportunity to \”cheat\”/\”learn\” real life lessons, not theories .


    Comment by Salchi Hansford -

  5. That\’s a tough one. The key would be \”Know oneself.\”

    Comment by mark -

  6. Having started a few businesses that were derailed by partners, it can be dangerous engaging partners. The wrong partner is hard to overcome and once the commitment is made is difficult to undo.

    Obviously, whatever you are doing is clearly working for you, but I am thinking that employees (no matter how hard it is to find good ones) can compensate for personal weaknesses without the risk of marrying a partner. One of the struggles we have at is finding and qualifying good employees. We are able to find good people for heavy lifting (literally) and assmebly, but struggle with other skill sets, including engineering, marketing, etc. While Dallas is rich in skills, the good people seem to go off into their own business, while the less than good people seem to drift from teat to teat.

    Any advice on employee selection? Having read through some of your content, you know that in a small business time is at a premium. Screening, selecting and training new people takes a lot of time away from marketing and selling. Given that most don\’t work out, sometimes it is difficult to justify the commitment. More often, you end up wearing more hats instead of struggling with more failed hires. It sounds like you have had different sizes and types of organizations. Mark, what advice would you have on hiring?

    Comment by Rob Bresnahan -

  7. This post really rang home. I have also made the mistake in the past of trying to force myself to do things that I hated instead of finding a way to let someone else handle them. There\’s a great one hour video on Google where Stuart Wilde talks about hating hardware but being caught up in the \”reality distortion field\” of a small hardware store owner who just loves his merchandise. It\’s a pleasure doing business with people who love what they\’re doing.

    Comment by Billionaire Strategies -

  8. Mark:
    It is interesting that you speak so plainly for someone who has done so well. I have always known about the \”Duck to Eagle\” theory: a duck cann\’t become to be an eagle no matter what is done, however an Eagle can learn to become a Duck if it so desires to. Congratulations on being an Eagle!

    Comment by MungoMungo (Chris Merrill) -

  9. Sorry Mark,
    If you knew me you would agree that I hold the title of most disorganized, I never really went to school, I can\’t spell or add a dam thing but I still impress on my children that education is great but it is one\’s inner self motivation that makes it all work out.

    Comment by Ray Shelton -

  10. I definitely need someone who is what I am not.

    Comment by wleed -

  11. Same here Mark, I\’m not a detailed oriented person, and when I started my business, I relied on my anal and careful gf (ex now).

    Comment by Dog Sonic Trainer -

  12. Mark,
    I just wanted to make a comment. I\’m in recovery right now, I went through 18yrs of using drugs,and alcohol to hide who I was. I did this out of fear, because I didn\’t want to know the results!!!!! Who the hell was I? I lied to myself for years telling myself that I was happy being a non goal oriented person and dropping anything that became tough in my life. I have 2 1/2 yrs clean under my belt. I\’m struggling to find my plae in life right-now, but it is a far-cry from my past. I relish the days I get a step closer to knowing who I am. This only comes when I don\’t lie to myself. I have to be brutally honest about who I am, who I\’ve harmed, and what I still want to do with my life. I look at what you have done with your life and I\’ve found myself in awe of what could happen if you put forth the effort. I can only imagine what will be, when I have come full circle, to who I really am. Thanks for sharing some of your journey. It has touched my spirit.

    Comment by Justin Macumber -

  13. Mark,
    Great blog.As everyone in business knows you have to take risk to be successful.I work for an independant nascar team and looking for sponsorship for daytona.Any advice on a good avenue to locate such sponsorship.We are running the race but need a little more help to qualify.So i know what it is like to takes chances.Hope you are having a great day!! Capt.Kirk

    Comment by Kirk Morel -

  14. Mark Great advice as always……. If you need any music underscores for any of your ventures, know that you have a friend who will deliver. \”1 great piece of music at a time.\”

    Comment by Eric McCaine -

  15. Too many small business owners will stay just that because they cannot delegate. The business will always be as big as their thumbprint. Then again, one has to be certain of the person they delegate to or things can be mismanaged or worse still, the person starts to \’take over\’ from the inside. I have experienced both of these, yet still maintain my faith in human kind ~ or kind humans! By the way I very much appreciated your input on the Bill Mayer Show… you nailed Tony Snow \’dead-right-center\’ Thank You!

    …and on another matter – I have hit what I consider to be an amazing opportunity that I would love to run by you. Please email contact link.

    I was the top consultant for Businessland in 1987-92 in Houston regarding Electronic Publishing. I produced the largest Seminars in Houston & New Orleans and sold many Mac Publishing units into big oil. Similar stomping grounds around the same time. You must know Robert Bagwell – Texas Real Estate Mogul, Entrepreneur and an old friend, if so, please send my love!

    Comment by Colin Jury -

  16. I have a great IDEA! Can we have the cheerleaders play basketball during half-time, but do sort of like rugby first before putting the ball in the basket? we can call it like basket-rugby? That would be so, hot!!! Do it!

    Comment by Mitchell -

  17. Simply a great post. I think my biggest lie I tell myself is that I CAN\’T to something. But in fact I can as long as I put some hard work into it and have some patience. Keeping on posting!


    Comment by Andrew Galasetti -


    Comment by ShenYurt -

  19. please write a book! that great !!

    Comment by ShenYurt -

  20. Dear Mark,

    I just want to say that I really appreciate reading your.

    It\’s not always easy to comprehend your thoughts but hey, you\’re a genius! 🙂

    All the best,

    Phil 🙂

    Comment by Phil -

  21. These thoughts explain your intense interest in team sports (especially the Mavs).
    Enjoyed you and Catherine Crier on Bill Maher.
    Have you read Rule by Secrecy by Jim Marrs? You can check it out on you tube.
    Did you vote for Ross? Why?

    Comment by John Miller -

  22. Wow. Mark you\’re on a roll buddy. Keep it up!

    (And I\’d certainly be interested in a book written by you too)

    Comment by Chris Sundberg -

  23. Outstanding illustration.

    When you create the right partnership, 1+1=infinity

    Comment by -

  24. . These words ring so true to me. I am at a point where hiring others to accomplish the day\’s required tasks is becoming a real possibility.

    I definitely need someone who is what I am not.

    Comment by wleed -

  25. THANK YOU Mark for your valuable posts!!!

    Comment by mac -

  26. Mark has been doing such a superior job at entertaining crowds, whether it has been that of his team the Mavericks or even my team the Lakers. Always a pleasure to read up on your thoughts. Check out some other Western Conference thoughts at:

    Comment by Daniel -

  27. Awsome! Now, I know I don\’t wanna ever start another small business, again! My partner sucked and I lost my money! If it don\’t work just move on to the next thing. Starting a business is not the begining or the end of anything! How about them cowboys! Are you going to the playoff games? gotta love it! I wanna see you seating next to Jerry Jones at the playoffs like a big happy family! LOL!

    Comment by Mitchell -

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    Comment by resistor -

  29. good
    Yeah organization isn\’t my strength either. I think you can work on it a bit but you tend to do what your interested in/good at – at least I do.

    Comment by resistors -

  30. good

    Comment by resistors -


    Comment by julian uchima -

  32. Yeah organization isn\’t my strength either. I think you can work on it a bit but you tend to do what your interested in/good at – at least I do.

    Comment by Greg Feirman -

  33. Thanks Mark. I\’m a pastor of a church and I continually take away so much from your blogs, and this was no exception. Thank you.

    Comment by Marty -

  34. this is a good post. i am having similar issues now. i\’ve got a billion dollar idea and don\’t have the team or resources to make it happen right now. i have the choice of continuing to pursue it or start a doctoral program. but i\’m not sure what my choice is as it pertains to this blog. very thought provoking entry. good job mark.

    Comment by tim summers -

  35. this goes against the grain of the teaching i\’ve been told that we tend to be more critical of ourselves than anyone else. And also that we are our own best or most important judge at the end of the day, if we feel we made the right decision that is what matters. But I guess it all depends on the context of the reality you are in at that moment you are judging yourself and can go to either extreme. Judge yourself too hard or too easily based on your percieved reality and in turn end up making decisions which are not conducive to your end goal. You\’ve got the wheels turning! thanks.

    Comment by nick -

  36. i guess you should also review this when comparing the mavericks to the celtics and suns don\’t lie to yourself they just aren\’t on the same level. especially the celtics, they haven\’t even hit their peak yet. they are like a race car with a brand new engine, wheels, brakes, transmission, etc. once mastered you may hope you can buy the cubs to get away from basketball for a couple years.

    Comment by nick -

  37. Hi, Mark:
    Why don\’t you set up a list of books you are reading? The benefits are:
    1. Generate and donate (since you don\’t need them) the income from Amazon link.
    2. Let average people like me start training our brain like yours (or at least trying to)
    3. You might get some great feed back.

    just $0.02

    Comment by cat -

  38. MC is back!

    Thanks for another great inspirational post!

    Comment by Dustin Bouch -

  39. Surrounding yourself with the great people is vital to success and achievement.

    Comment by darryl -

  40. Great post. Even better advice considering you and Mr. Nelson haven\’t always seen eye to eye over the years. Too many people believe in that theory of \”I can do anything\” and while this is a great philosophy to live by, sometimes it leads to trouble. Not everybody can be a Jordan or Magic or Bird or Kobe or Dirk or Shaq. People need to learn and accept what their strengths and weaknesses are and deal with it.

    How many people think they can be the next Jordan and wind up being a college drop out struggling to find a job? Figuring out what you\’re best at and what you\’re not so good at and finding ways to make it work for you is definitely something more people need to do, including myself. \”I can do everything\” is a mentallity that leads to burnout and normally not great results. Espeically if you think your Jordan but can\’t even make the college team.

    Comment by PJAM3 -

  41. Also…is there anyway I coauld ask you a couple of questions (because I\’m sure you get very few!)? When you first started, what were your general operating procedures, and how did you evaluate potential customers? Did you ever turn down business because you thought a customer would \”drag you down\”?

    My friend is an MBA candidate at TCU and he said some of the best companies asked other banner companies or individuals how they do things (non-competitors of course). And you, obviously, are a banner person to ask these questions. Maybe I\’ll win the lottery pick today!

    Comment by Paul Huff -

  42. Excellent post! Thanks so much for the reflective insight. I\’ve just been going down that same thought-provoking road. I\’ve started a company with a great partner, and we are both sellers, architects(software) and great coders. I enjoyed the similarities in our stories. Thanks!

    Comment by Paul Huff -

  43. This describes me to a \”T\” and my partner is the \”anal\” one and I love it!

    Comment by Mike -

  44. Our choice are to show truly who we are which far more than our abilities.

    Comment by Echo -

  45. an inspiration Cubes…love the blog, always have…had a subscription since back in the day!

    Comment by kellex -

  46. Ive met you Mark on one occassion your where driving with your wife on the way to florida after the mavs had just lost in the playoffs. I asked were you mark cuban and you responded by saying everyday. It was suprising to me how much of an easy going person you were to talk to unlike other owners.

    Comment by Robert Whitney -

  47. It seems like people just need to get real with their skill set. I know I also suck at organization – so I just need to make sure others close to me have those skills.

    Thanks again Mark.

    Comment by Tom Altman -

  48. Hey Mark I will be there in my vintage rasheed wallace t shirt cheering on my beloved pistons in section 121 go deeeeetroit!

    Comment by Robert Whitney -

  49. Thanks a lot for these words of wisdom, Mark. Though I\’ve founded, built and sold a couple of companies, I still have to continually remind myself that I can\’t do everything – nor do I need to. Now, as I\’m growing a new sports-related technology start-up, I find myself in the same battles. Fortunately I\’ve got a good team with me, but it doesn\’t change the fact that I need to face my weaknesses!

    Comment by Jeff -

  50. Mr. Cuban – I saw this blog in the Philadelphia Inquirrer. It said you talked about everything from basketball to movies. I am a amateur screenwriter that has 5 full length screenplays. One underway and 5 more to go. Without having any Hollywood or movie contact/connections and working in a non-movie world – how do you get your foot or screenplays in the door of the movie world? Thanks for your time. – Rob Burke

    Comment by Rob Burke -

  51. Just love hearing about success stories like this. It has always been motivating to know that what ever we as humans put our minds too can be accomplished. The only thing that can stop oneself is one\’s self!
    Thanks Mark!

    Reginald Braziel

    Comment by Reginald Braziel -

  52. I think it\’s always better to have people with different personalities/specialties working together. They check and balance each other and allow each other to concentrate on what they are good at.

    Comment by Singer 9940 -

  53. please write a book! btw, did you see the mess your \’friend\’ Bill O\’Reily got himself into with Obama\’s people? what a jerk.

    Comment by greg -

  54. I have created PDFs of Mark\’s last few posts for everyone to download/print from here:

    Each PDF is named the same as the blog post from Mark.

    THANK YOU Mark for your valuable posts!!!


    Comment by James -

  55. This great post! Tnx you for this blog!

    Comment by goga -

  56. I will get a salesman, because dammit that\’s my greatest weakness.

    Comment by Jim -

  57. Wow! i just found your blog + i\’m loving reading all your entries.

    i enjoyed watching you on dancing with the stars. i know apolo ohno from my husand speedskating with him on the national olympic training team for 2002. + many years ago (like 1999) i got an email from mark or jeff cuban asking me if speedskaters would watch speedskating at sportsbars + to email you the names of the local sportsbars (because i was the webmaster for the northern california speedskating association). + i loved you on your reality show a few years ago. happy new year + i look forward to seeing you on tv more

    Comment by mod*mom -

  58. Planning is the first step to start a internet business.With a good planning will archive more victory in future.But for me start with a small internet business is better than jump to a huge one.

    Comment by mankind -

  59. Everyone\’s story is different but I think it\’s most important to have a partner that shares the same vision as you. Someone you can meet in the middle on some things and resolve solutions with efficiently. I like hearing Mark tell about this experiences starting up and starting something virtually out of thin air.

    Comment by Keith J -

  60. Going for it!

    Comment by Adam Pritchard -

  61. Another way to say this – when choosing co-founders don\’t look for someone that is similar to you. It is easy to find a business partner that agrees with you and enjoys the same aspects of the project, but in the long run that may not be the best option.

    Comment by Mike -

  62. Like spelling for example. (Strengths)

    Comment by Bob Wegener -

  63. Another great post Mark! When profiling yourself, the weaknesses are sometimes more important than the strenghts.

    Comment by Bob Wegener -

  64. These words ring so true to me. I am at a point where hiring others to accomplish the day\’s required tasks is becoming a real possibility.

    I definitely need someone who is what I am not.

    Comment by Affordable SEO Sercices - Terry Reeves -

  65. \”Go for IT\” – That sounds like a great IT slogan for the right company.
    Sahar Sarid

    Comment by Sahar Sarid -

  66. Mark, this is a great post and so true. As I have been working through with Clearspring, it has been a continuous process trying to quickly identify my strengths and weaknesses. I think the trick for anyone that wants to be successful is to be as self-aware as possible and try to surround yourself with people and process to fill in the gaps. Without that, execution is definitely difficult. Great post and great blog. Have a good one.

    Comment by Hooman Radfar -

  67. That was a great blog because I am working on starting my own production company but have never been an anal or detail oriented person either. Now I see that getting the right partner with those qualities is a good way to go. Thanks. Since you only live once, Can I get a million dollars, or actually anything you could spare would help with starting my company $100, whatever. Hey, it never hurts to ask right.

    Comment by YC -

  68. I love success stories, they are true motivators. I have also written an amazing story on Mawi Asgedom on my blog. A true success story. Read it at

    Comment by Dr. Ethiopia -

  69. Was this a repost? Anyway, i don\’t care. I loved every word of it. Thx Mark. We need more posts like that.

    Comment by Dr. Ethiopia -

  70. Hey Mark! I wanted to fire off a Proposal for U but wasn\’t sure how to Contact U via Email? I\’m in the process of looking to Partner with someone re: a WEB3D.0 Initiative*

    Cheers! Billy ;))


    Comment by BillyWarhol -

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