Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Truth

Is telling truth to yourself or others more difficult?

I ask this question pending the upcoming Truth Telling meeting that I perform as part of my employment, a time where I present metrics to management and say "This is what it is".  In theory this is a truth telling moment, a chance to lay bare all the bad - and good - of what is going on.

The effectiveness of a meeting such as this - any meeting such as this - is dependent on two factors.  The first, the willingness of people to receive the truth, is beyond my control.  The second, the telling of the data as it lies, is within my control.  But so often I stumble, fall short of what I could be doing?  Why is this?

Truth is a pernicious thing. It is sharp.  It is deadly.  It can be a tool of healing - but it needs to presented to be effective.  Truth that is never brought forth is no better than the lie that is.

But which is more difficult:  telling the truth to one's self or to others?

I am too often tempted - as with the greater world around me- to come down on the first side.  Telling the truth to one's self is never an easy thing.  At its best it can be a cleansing tool or a freeing agent.  But we are so often clever about the truth to ourselves - or so we are told.  We like to evade the truth.  We like to create walls the keep it from us, shade it in ways that make us feel better.  We see it through eyes that make failures into successes, that make flaws into facets.

Much of this is true, of course.  We do have ways to make the truth about ourselves less than full.  We justify, we slide, we worm around.  There is no doubt that telling the truth to one's self is a difficult and sometimes dangerous thing.

But after consideration, I believe I have come to the conclusion that it is the telling of truth to others that is the more difficult task.

We  have to want to speak the truth in order to tell it to others.  There is a sort of double vesting involved:  we have to want to tell it and we have to tell it.  Doing one or the other - wanting to tell it but not telling it or not wanting to tell it but telling something - will not accomplish the true work of the truth.

Also, telling the truth to one's self never involves a third party.  Telling the truth to others does.  And not just a third party - often a third party that has some ability to bring us weal or do us harm.  They may control our careers, our personal lives, or relationships.  Their opinions - and their actions - can make our lives a heaven or hell.  It would be a lie to say that every time we engage in such an exercise, the thought of that control does not cross our minds.

How many times have I been confronted with the situation of telling the truth when I know that it will create issues for me?  The history of such endeavors in my own life is not such to convince me that telling the truth results in the actions that I would hope for or desire.

But we desperately need the truth.  Truth is to human relationships and interactions what data are to science: the building blocks by which we learn and move forward.  Without data we cannot get to the true root cause of a problem or make a true advance; with truth we can also do neither of these things.

How will my meeting go?  I am not really sure.  But I do know that I sit today in a different place than I sat yesterday.  My job - in my career as in my life - is to speak truth and be truthful.

Even if no-one, including myself, always listens.

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