Why is it so hard to tell the truth sometimes?

Hard to tell the truth

Hard to tell the truth

Who isn’t telling the Truth?

CBC News reported a few days ago that Toshiba’s CEO and eight other executives were resigning as a demonstration of taking responsibility for systemic avoidance of telling the truth at Toshiba.

The article goes on to say, “There was intense pressure to produce results, so employees felt cornered into resorting to inappropriate measures.”

We just cannot achieve superior performance, individually or in teams, unless we are actively being Authentic and Truthful.  The truth is the mother of trust. Caring and consistency are her sisters.

A definition for Truthfulness:
Being truthful in thoughts, words, and actions while Acknowledging Universal Truths and expressing from full awareness in mind and body”

A universal truth: Followers yearn for leaders who are real.  Leaders who tell the truth consistently.

Self-leadership is about recognizing these moments of universal truth and being authentic and vulnerable enough to tell the truth even in the face of possible criticism or an onslaught of feelings.

The skills to manage criticisms and overwhelming feelings are ones that can be developed by the personal leader. It’s all possible with an appropriate personal leadership development plan that embraces more authenticity.

A key reason we’re not fully authentic is that we’re not courageous enough. Courage enables us to be Authentic – we cannot be Authentic until we first have the Courage to be so.

When we’re Authentic, we’re aligned: the mind the voice, the heart and the feet all say the same thing. There is no second-guessing ourselves, and no desire to paint things in a certain way.  Truth then becomes a by-product of Authenticity.

We all yearn to find leaders who are authentic.  The truth just like authenticity is palpable.  People can see it from a mile away when you’re incongruent. They may not know what to do with it, but they sense it.

As a personal leader, you might also be watching how the some people are responding to Donald Trump as he pursues the US presidency.   Every day this past week, I’ve heard things such as how refreshing it is for a politician to be “telling it how it is”.

I  point out the difference between speaking an interpretation and speaking a Truth.  It is sad how frequently we all take someone’s opinion and judgments as “Truth” instead of a mixture of interpretations.

The truth is what it is and may not always be kind, but it shouldn’t wound either. The truth just is, does not have any energy behind it on its own. It’s the interpretations that we’d lay down beside the fact that makes truth-telling hard for some. (to say and to listen to)

Famous truthfulness quotes by Winston Churchill that say things like: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is“.

So, as you can see lot’s of conversations in the media right now about truth-telling.   How about you?

how to tell the truth

You might say it’s not hard to tell the truth.  Here is a little challenge, take this simple self- discovery quiz, answering with a simple true or false answer.

  • I always tell the truth
  • I have never taken anything that was not mine
  • I am never intimidated
  • I am always the best at whatever I do
  • I like everyone I know
  • I never fool myself

Did you notice any gray areas?  Any places where you wanted to say almost always?  Any places where you have a complete fail?       I know personally being extremely optimistic, I don’t always tell myself the truth.

Truth telling is not always easy, and we all can be vulnerable to stretching the truth. A great 1 step is to take full responsibility and be authentic in what you say (and don’t say). You can also build some of the following into your own personal leadership development plan.

Ways to Make Truth-telling easier

Here are some ways to make it easier to tell the truth:

  • Create an environment where it’s safe to tell the truth. Make a pact with others around you that there is an agreement to speak the truth.
  • Agree that there will be no recriminations or punishment for truth telling.
  • Make a commitment to speak the truth in a helpful and positive way. Avoid wounding with the truth.
  • As you tell the truth make clear distinctions between what you observe and what you think about what you see. Recognize the possible impact of your interpretation before you speak.

Here is a good truth question for yourself as an easy first step:

  • As a self-management practice, practice daily telling the truth when someone asks, “How are you?”.   Instead of just answering, “fine” as a default – stop, go inside and see what is  the state of affairs.  (then share THAT).  Then expand to other contexts.



7 Ways to Lead Yourself with Congruence

incongruenceIf you are leading and not 100% in agreement and alignment with what you think, speak or behave – you are being at least a little in-congruent.

If you have ever found yourself in a position of  ‘teaching’ and not doing yourself; you may already know what I am talking about.  If you have ever thought – “that’s good for that goose and not for this gander”, you might be interested in these 7 ways to be more congruent:

1. Do you walk your  talk?  

Almost a platitude now, the phrase walking your talk has lost some of its power.  This happens a lot with sayings,  we hear it so often – it loses its anchoring effect.

Is it time for you to check in to see if you walk your talk?

Are you passionate about a subject and do you speak on it often?  Do you still engage with it with the same passion on a personal level?

It’s easy to let things slip.  All it takes is a slip of focus.  

Perhaps it is time for you to re-focus if you’ve found your self slipping.    Why?   Those who you hope to influence are watching.  They are watching for your congruence.  They are looking to trust you – and they will; when you are transparent, consistent and congruent.

2. Do you do as you believe?  

Do you believe others can do better?   How about you?  Can you do better?  The pursuit of  “‘betterism” is key in the leadership skill of being congruent.  Why?  Expectations of “being better” are out there.  If you are not thinking of how you can do and be better, on some level you are not keeping up with what you believe.

3. Do you live your values?  

If you feel something is important and do not act as if it is important – on some level you are settling for less.  If you are settling instead of risking living your values fully.  Somewhere someone else is leading YOU instead of you leading yourself.   Not to worry if you feel that you’ve neglected your own values for a while; it happens to us all from time to time.  It could be that  your values have changed over time.

If it is time to reconnect with what is most important – you’ll feel yourself becoming more congruent.

4. Do you follow your passions?

A passion is something that makes you come alive. It’s something you love doing when you are doing it.  If there is something you would like to spend your time doing – and you are not dedicating part of your day or week to doing it – What does that say?

It may say – that you think one thing – and do another.  It may say that you think less of your own happiness or worth than you do of role or choice.  It may just say – that you haven’t been aligning your actions with what you think about.

If you are passionate about something – living from congruence means you have made room for it in your life.

5. Do you fully express yourself?  

If you have found yourself holding back your voice of  self-expression, you know that uncomfortable feeling that comes along with that.  It feels awful.  You want to say what you want to say – yet there are risks.  Someone might not like what you say.

Well, there more risks than that.   Most of us can’t hide your facial expressions very well, and others will know you are not being congruent.

6. Are you consistent?

Congruence has an energy trail.   If you are repeatedly congruent – others will begin to trust you more.  It’s a cornerstone of being trust worthy.  If you are inconsistent, people will begin to see you as in-congruent with your behavior as a pattern.

7. Do you tell the truth?

Along with being consistent, telling the truth is a cornerstone of congruence. Telling the truth means telling YOUR truth. The truth of how you feel, how you think, how you act.

When we are talking personal leadership – there are no grey areas – either you are telling the truth – or you are not.

Truth-telling is congruence.

If you hope to influence, inspire or to have people trust you as you lead – congruence is imperative.  It affects everything from your personal presence, to the results you gain from the contributions you wish to make as a leader.


On a personal level, how you lead yourself (in congruence) also will affect your own personal level of fulfillment.

After all, in the end – you want to feel good about what you do  – and being congruent is just one way you get to realize that sense of fulfillment.