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.

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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.

19 thoughts on “Why You Should Always Tell the Truth

  1. 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.

  2. “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. 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. I’m faced with a difficult task or life mission guys. It’s basically revolved around religion so it’s touchy and very personal. My argument is that we all have been using and relying on versions of mistranslations and retranslated versions of a book which is the Bible. It’s flawed in many ways and inevitably incorrect. Example, the Hebrew version from which the king JAMES version was retranslated goes, “In Wisdom, Elohim created”, not In the beginning God, which is a title, created. And Elohim is plural for god’s not just one god. That’s just one point I have researched. Though my entire family disowns and discredits me because of these truths. I’m no Christian any longer, I’m a spirit child of the Most High, really if you read in-between the lines we all are god’s from the one Creator God. Psalms 82:6 and John 10:4. I teach people to read between the lines on scripture but I’m called everything from atheist to sacrilegious for doing so. Should I continue to ‘speak’ (lol) this truth regardless of being called crazy and the fact that I’m fighting an losing battle? Or should I keep on keeping in because it’s so frustrating!

    1. U should research about quran ( the book of muslim) . I found it very true and interesting. It makes me want to read more and more and get to know deep down about the islam’s history

  7. Ive read this quote somewhere in google and it bothers me about “the truth always win but unfortunetly liars first turn” wtf is that mean? So liars win first before the truth? What can you/guys say about that.

  8. I always prefer beauty to ugliness, that’s why for me the concept of truth is not so extremely important. There are other stories worth listening and reading to, than just the ugly truthful confessions. All truth is subjective. One thinks it’s true that we are the only creatures in this world, another thinks it’s not true. Art and beauty are full of ‘lies’, but it doesn’t make them any less wonderful. If all the artists painted just the ugly anatomical portraits of people where would all the beauty go? Mystery also can contain lies, but if we reveal everything as it is, life would be dull and upsetting.

  9. How about everyday white lies? Ones that we are conditioned by society to lie about and not think twice? I can think of a few, “never telling your partner when they look overweight,” is a good example. If we lead this honest life but cut corners in relationships just to make the other person feel better is that acceptable? Obviously it’s hard to be honest in those situations because you’re supposed to support and care for that person so revealing that you notice their insecurities can hurt, but is the truth more important? Should there be exceptions, and where is the line drawn then?

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