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.

 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that I consider off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Why is it so hard to tell the truth sometimes?

  1. I just love this, and you hit the nail on the proverbial head with : “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.”
    Doesn’t it all come down to that? I think it was Cicero who said, “Without courage, none of the other virtues matter.”
    Thank you for such an insightful post!

    • Thanks for sharing a great quote, Susan. My personal favourite that describes this same idea is from Maya Angelou: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

  2. I honestly couldnt agree more to the following quote “Self-leadership is about recognising 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.”

    Beautifully written blog, thank you.