“The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off.”
– Marianne Williamson
Perhaps because the truth has the ability to make someone angry many of us avoid speaking it. In a survey of 40,000 Americans, 93 percent admitted that they regularly lie at work. An article in truth in the workplace in Fast Company surmised that for employees, telling the truth could jeopardize their careers; for managers, it could mean facing difficult issues. Which might be why Warren Bennis found in his book, On Becoming a Leader, that many top leaders rely on the candid opinion of their significant others rather than those of their employees or colleagues.
But there is as much truth in action as there are in words. Jim McCann, an entrepreneur and founder of 1-800-Flowers was a pioneer in the use of toll-free numbers and the web in selling products to customers. He was quoted in Fast Company as saying, “My first rule of communication — whether it’s an e-mail, memo or half-day briefing — is “Tell me in the first sentence what you would have told me in th last sentence.’” In other words, get to the point. By knowing the objective of the conversation or proposal, McCann could listen more effectively and actively to the details. It’s like seeing a film or reading a book for the second time. When you know where it’s going, it’s easier to read or watch for its deeper meaning.
Gaining vision and insight sounds like a tranquil pursuit, but in reality, it’s a volatile process. Most of the time we really don’t want to look for that deeper meaning, content with the first answer we come across. To continue digging for the truth could mean confronting and questioning our own perceptions and behavior. And this usually leads to change, never easy.
The truth will piss us off because it is likely to reveal more of ourselves than we wish to know. But by facing it, and letting it guide our future thoughts and action, the truth will eventually — and thankfully — set us free.
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