Honesty to Self
Recently, a founder of a Silicon Valley startup was convicted for fraud. She made fantastic claims for her startup, collected a lot of money, but had nothing to deliver. In some places, it is almost common that leaders make fantastic claims and hope to be believed. For many of us, we have tried to live up to the image of the strong business leader: confident and constantly giving assurances that we are all on the right path, but it has cost us a lot. When events happen, often employees, investors, and followers are left disillusioned.
When we lie or omit truths to our advisory board, to our employees, or to our customers, we impede our progress and may often waste time, effort, and resources on the wrong actions. We can get trapped in a web of lies unable to admit even to ourselves. Worse, when people find out that we lied or omitted the truth, we lose trust - the most valuable part of the relationship. That loss of trust costs us a lot. We can never hope to keep the fact of our lying hidden. Lies will always come out in some way.
While we may need to act assured when talking to potential investors and to some employees, it can be deadly to try to believe our own assurances. We need to be honest in order to handle reality. Far too many business leaders have descended into drug and alcohol use and more trying to cope with the pressures and doubts. Our efforts to hide from our own truth can put us and others in very dangerous situations.
Our lives may depend on our being honest with ourselves.
Many drug and alcohol treatment programs start with trying to break down the walls of denial and demand honesty as the first step to recovery. Unless we are willing to face our hard reality and learn from the situation, we will not be able to change the real problems in our lives. When we face the truths about our businesses and learn from the problems our business has, we gain ability to make better decisions for business prosperity.
There are things we may not consider to be lies. We may have built quite a life based on certain concepts that we never questioned. We may have past positions, past publications, prior votes, existing policies, and associations that may not accurately reflect today's reality. While nobody can fully walk away from their past and many can't even question teachings they grew up with, our willingness to question as many things as we can will help us find what are past lies and what we need to change today.
Honesty to self can give us the flexibility to respond positively when an employee badly "drops the ball". We can handle disappointments, natural events, and market actions without fear of others finding out how we are not in control of the situation. Instead, we can change our plans, find new markets, or help the employees learn and recover from bad mistakes.
Our goal has to be honesty to self so that we can live.