Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why You Should Always Tell the Truth

The other day, my mom told me a story about a coworker (and friend) who wanted her to lie to the boss. She refused. She just couldn’t lie like that. The friend lost her job, and my mom lost her friend.


Photo Credit: kennymatic via Compfight cc

Every day, we have the choice to tell the truth or not. We can be honest with ourselves about who we are and the challenges we face, or we can lie about it. That’s a choice that’s up to you and me.

Be honest about the problem

The other day at a leadership conference, I heard speaker and author Seth Godin give some advice to an auditorium of leaders:

Tell the truth.

The question was: “How do I innovate within a bureaucracy?”

Godin’s summation was simple: Your situation isn’t as bad as you think. You may not have the freedom to do whatever you want. But you can do something. So start there.

Let’s say you’re facing an important decision or dealing with a certain problem, and you don’t know what to do. Where do you begin?

Stop lying. That’s a good place to start. And then, honestly identify what’s really standing in your way.

What’s the issue?

Is it your boss… or fear? Is it laziness… or Resistance? Is it them… or you?

Just tell the truth. Isn’t that usually the right answer? The question may be, “How do I get a husband?” or “How do I find the right job?” Or even, “How do I market this product?”

But no matter what, the answer is always honesty. Integrity, though sometimes costly, ultimately wins. The problem is not always so simple, and neither is the solution.

When you write, tell it like it is. We are all waiting for the truth, and so few people are willing to tell it.

Let’s get ugly

I’m not just talking about the partial truth. I mean the whole enchilada. The gritty, ugly, scary-to-share, vulnerable truth. The kind that might make you look bad.

The irony is this is exactly what people want from you. To honestly share your story, even — no, especially — when it costs you something. Above all, you must be true.

You cannot fluff or exaggerate the details to impress someone. Be honest. Be yourself. And write like only you can, because if you don’t tell your story, who else will?

So whenever you write or speak or sit down to dinner with your spouse tonight, be honest. Share what you have to say and do it from the heart, your heart. No one else can do that. Tell the truth. It’s the only thing worth listening to.

How have you seen the benefit of telling the truth in your own life? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I just saw an older video of Jason Fried (from 37signals) talk about this. I’ve harped on authenticity before, and I know you have too. But Jason said something about transparency that stuck with me. He’s like, “Transparency? That’s honesty. Monetization? That’s making money. Let’s just get to what these things really mean.”

    I love that. Everyone knows what honesty means. We try to dress it up, make it seem 21st century-ish, because Honest Abe isn’t cool anymore. But really, that’s what it’s all about: just being honest with people, even when it is hard.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • “No matter what, the answer is that honesty and integrity ultimately win.”

    You could have posted only that and the truth would have been resounding. :)

  • Thanks, guys.

  • David Mike

    My blog is the true story of the darkest part of my life. It’s pretty raw but all true. It’s been awesome to share with everyone and I’ve received nothing but positive support. The truth will set you free!

  • samanthakrieger

    Great post Jeff. Fearing what others think when it comes to the raw stuff is a big issue in vulnerability and honesty but at the end of the day I guess we have all experienced something similar as broken people. And we can all relate to some degree.

    I’m still trying to figure out if it’s possible to be too honest and if withholding our words is sometimes the better thing to do? Or just always write what your heart is saying. Thanks.

  • Keith L. Bell

    I’ve found that nothing resonates more with people than the nitty-gritty! Either it means that we all are a bit screwed-up and need validation (which is true), or lies are only fun when they are being told to anyone else but us (which is often true as we’ll). Either way, let me have it! All I ask is that you keep it tethered to love and a desire to help me improve my life. Great article Jeff! Thanks bro.

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