We’ve all done it - to ourselves and to others. We never feel good about it, but we continue to do it in an effort to make ourselves or the other person feel better. And it generally works in the short term - and undermines in the long term. So, you need to decide if you’re in the short game or the long game. Soothing acceptance of mediocrity or inspiring pursuit of a standard of excellence.
Comforting lies or selfless truth.
Why Should We Care? Honesty is difficult. It’s easy when spoken in affirmation, but challenging when provided as feedback for improvement. Our choice in these situations usually bounces between two easier paths:
Avoidance - we just ignore the behavior, or action, and don’t address it at all
Acceptance - we accept the subpar behavior, or action, and provide positive reinforcement
Why we make this choice seems clear on the surface - it’s uncomfortable, and we would rather remain comfortable than create discomfort for those around us. This is the common reason most people point to when accountability begins to drift. I disagree.
We avoid and accept when we don’t care enough about the purpose we are pursuing. When invested fully into the mission of the group, discomfort becomes a worthwhile price to pay. Our level of truth becomes a reflection of our selflessness. When we are bought into a cause, or purpose, avoiding behaviors detrimental to that cause (which is anything short of the standard, by the way) is selfish.
Accepting less than what is required is simply choosing personal comfort over team performance. Truth becomes a selfless act, serving both the team and the individual in the long term.
REAL TALK - Action Steps So, how do we do it? How do we overcome the urge to choose selfless truth over comfortable lies? It’s an important question. One that will not only determine the performance of the team, but also the trajectory of your life.
Choose a purpose you can commit to
This goes for your personal life, as well as your professional one. There is no question that your belief in, and commitment to, your purpose increases your willingness to embrace selfless truth. When we believe deeply in a cause, prioritizing that cause ahead of personal comfort becomes the obvious choice. Make your purpose something that’s truly important to you and you’ll share, and seek, the truth all the time. Likewise, if we would pursue a professional life that feeds our purpose, we would find that our willingness to hold ourselves and those around us to the standards of excellence would greatly increase as well.
Fill your trust balloon
The beautiful thing about trust is that there is no shortcut, which is exactly how it should. Trust isn’t built in grand actions, but in small gestures. Each positive, trustworthy action adds a little more air to your trust balloon. Each negative, untrustworthy action takes a little air out. It’s important to note that you can’t fill the trust balloon with one noble action but you can certainly empty it. Trust is what allows selfless honesty to be received. It’s the difference between being a great friend and being a complete jerk. The difference between reaching your potential and settling for average.
Detach from man’s approval
Much of our desire to pad the truth is a desire to be liked by those around us. In this search for approval we modify, or eliminate, the truth. We think this helps us gain acceptance, but it really just further clouds what we believe and stand for - to ourselves and to others. It’s not that we don’t care what others think, it’s that we don’t care what everyone else thinks. It’s a futile effort. Our ability, or willingness, to communicate the truth without the desire for approval, is a major factor consistently sharing selfless truth.
The challenge is our perspective. The idea of selfless truth is at the center of a servant’s mindset. You lead to serve. Serving is loving. Love those you lead enough to tell them the truth.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!