The truth will set you free…

Whether you’re a faith-based person or not, almost everyone would agree with Jesus’ declaration: “The truth will set you free.

That’s why the first step in any autocratic, dictatorial regime is to shut down the free flow of information. They know that if the people know the truth, the whole truth, the people wouldn’t put up with the lies being told to them and the restraints put upon them. The people wouldn’t be able to TRUST their rulers and would find a way to get free from them.

There’s a principle here that I want you to understand. And this principle applies to all of your relationships at home, at work, and with any organization. Trust can only exist in an environment of truth.

Put another way, you can’t live a life of deceit, dishonesty, misinformation, misdirection, or even little white lies and expect people to trust you. That’s why the old saying is so true: “Honesty is the best policy.”

Of course, it’s one thing to say you believe in truth, honesty, and trust. It’s something else to actually practice them. Let me you give two tips for doing so.

► 1. Tell the truth all the time, not just some of the time.

One employee did not understand this principle. She should have known better when she received an unusually large pay check one day. But she decided not to say anything about it. The following week her check was less than the normal amount; so, she confronted her boss about it.

Her supervisor asked, “How come you didn’t say anything when you were overpaid?” Unruffled the employee replied, “Well I can overlook one mistake — but two in a row?”

The employee’s selective truth telling hurt the trust between her and her supervisor. As author and columnist Peggy Noonan observed, “Candor is a compliment. It’s how true friends talk.” Anything less is how conniving, untrustworthy people talk.

One caution: Some people think that they’ve found a real friend or a true ally if another person will lie for them … occasionally … when needed. I don’t buy it. I tell my coaching clients, “People who will lie for you will lie to you.” They can’t be trusted. You can only trust those people who tell the truth all the time.

Let me in!

F.Y.I. Back by popular demand. I offered this class a year ago and people have been asking me ever since to offer it again. So here goes. My five-week, virtual, interactive master class on THE TRUST CONNECTION: How to Build Stronger, Empathic, Engaged Relationships will be coming back and starting on September 28, 2023. Check out all the details here and how to get our BOGO offer.

► 2. Tell the truth, even when it may cost you.

It’s fairly easy to tell the truth if you stand to gain something. But it’s a lot more difficult to tell the truth if it could possibly hurt you. But that’s why trust is so important.

One successful business person made that quite clear. He was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed.

Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil … in hopes the seed would grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.

He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful – in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed. A few felt sorry for him.

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back.

“My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed and Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!”

Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others asked.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds. They were dead. It was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you.”

“Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive!”

And I might add … Jim was the only one who could be trusted. And that’s critical — because trust is one of the indispensable keys to successful leadership.