Many years ago, one of my clients was fond of personal Top Ten lists as a way to sum up presentations at events. At the top of one of them once was:
“Tell the truth. There’s less to remember.”
I have helped craft and have listened to thousands of presentations since starting in business. I have heard messages from leaders of all kinds and forgotten most of them. But that single line is one I have never forgotten.
As soon as we bend the truth to become an untruth – a lie – we undermine one of the most important and powerful bonds of trust. Without trust, there can be no relationship of any kind. If I cannot trust you as my leader, parent, child, colleague, neighbor, partner – whatever – we cannot function properly together.
To me, there are precious few lines which, once crossed, make a relationship of any kind impossible. Trust is one of those lines. Could you work for someone you don’t trust? I could not.
This is surely one of the most powerful lessons that we, as leaders and parents, must teach and live by. It is the very basis of our human “civilization”, for, without respect for the truth, the laws and agreements of our societies are meaningless.
Ex-Mayor of New York and Trump lawyer Rudi Giuliani stated in a recent interview that “Truth isn’t Truth”. Pardon me? He explained later that he was not making a moral statement, rather saying that one person can say one thing and another can say the opposite, and further investigation might not reveal which is or is not correct.
That may be true in a court of law. But what happened to bringing up our kids to believe that they must tell the “real” truth, and not just when it is convenient?
When the most powerful people in the world abuse the truth, we send a horrible message to current and future generations. When the truth became just an abstract idea, like “real” or “fake”, which we can either select or invent at will, we undermine the very foundations of our society.
My parents and their parents and generations before them are rolling in their graves right now. This madness has to end. Stephen Stills once sang “Teach your children well”. Never in my lifetime has it been more important than it is today around the subject of telling the truth.