The truth will set you free

I was at a client in Newcastle about a decade ago, watching mining equipment being loaded up for shipping to a mine in Western Australia.

The dispatcher said, “They’ll be back in a fortnight.”

I was flabbergasted.

“Why?” I asked.

“They’ve got faults in them,” he pointed at a few things, “see, here, and here. They won’t fit. They’ll send them back.”

“If they’re faulty, why are we sending them out?”

“On-time delivery.”

You might say he was kidding himself. I call it the lie.

The business was lying to itself. Sure, its on-time delivery numbers were excellent, but its rework numbers were off the scale.

Every movement of that equipment cost the company $3000 – that’s not counting the actual rework cost – and it was happening multiple times each month. Just the cost of transport, over five years, was $219,000.

That’s the cost of a lie. And we all do it – I tell more stories in the video, even my own – and it hurts our businesses and kills off future potential.

We lie outright – that’s a lie by commission.

We lie by omission – that’s what I call the violence of silence.

And we lie by collusion – where I know it’s a lie, you know it’s a lie and we both let it pass because it’s easier that way.

For now!

We usually lie to save someone’s feelings – usually ours, despite what we tell ourselves about sympathy for others.

Those lies return us a short-term benefit – a bit of peace, avoid some conflict, we can hide inside our comfort zone – but the long-term cost has compound interest added. It’s the high cost of avoiding an awkward conversation.

Truthfulness is what Ray Dalio, founder of the largest hedge fund in the world, calls radical honesty and transparency. It is one of the 20 critical leadership traits we measure and build.



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