Well. This is partially about me and partially about how I feel about telling someone the truth. And, maybe, just simply about communicating truth.
And the fact that truth can often not only sound like a pistol shot … but feel like you have been shot. Because this is partially about me, and truth, I will begin with the infamous (maybe) Michelangelo quote … said at age 87 I may add:
<I am still learning>
Oh. Please note Michelangelo said this in Latin and the one above is in Spanish.
I am humbly in good company.Because I am forever ‘still learning.’
At the same time I am still telling someones <anyone I can> the truth.
Personally I believe they are related: telling the truth and constantly learning. And I imagine I tell everyone that because therein lies some of the issue in telling the truth.
Regardless. Why write about this now? I have received enough emails about some things I have written lately that I wanted to explain why I think what I think, what I think about what I write and how I think about truth and sharing truth <versus opinions>.
I have never been one for blowing smoke up someone’s ass <as well as I have always wondered what that phrase meant>. This attitude extends not only to things that I say … but when I see & hear other’s blowing smoke up someone’s ass <particularly if they are doing it simply to make a buck>.
This attitude has most likely not helped me in the business world. But in personal Life it has most likely established me as a ‘stand up guy.’ Kind of a nice alternative version of some degree of integrity. I can live with that.
Anyway. I started here with this sharing of thoughts because while I think most life coaches are simply snake oil salesmen, The Secret is a bunch of tripe, formulas for success are anything but successful and trying to figure out how to emulate greatness will lead you to somewhere other than something great, I believe people need to do whatever they need to do to get their head on straight to move forward in Life.
I write about stuff sometimes simply because I want to take as many blinders off as I can <I often do this under the nomenclature of ‘enlightening’>. I do this because I think if people could see Life a little more clearly … without bullshit and smoke & mirrors … well … living Life is just not that complicated.
Life hurts some times.
Life feels great at others.
There are some valleys and sometimes those valleys can get pretty deep & dark.
There are some peaks and boy it is nice & bright & warm when you are there.
All that said. When I see smoke … I try and blow it away. Do I ever wonder if avoiding telling the truth to keep from hurting someone’s feelings is a better path? Sure I do.
Heck. I believe any <and all> ‘truth teller’ has twinges of angst, in fact, all the time. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t really be a truth teller they would simply be opinionated fools <if not arrogant assholes>.
Comfort with honesty and speaking the truth for what it is … this version of candor … is a responsibility one assumes if you choose his path. I would like to think it is an honorable path wherein we avoid the perils of false flattery or mistaken confidence in some special secret to Life <of which there is none>.
First … I have found that truth actually begins with being honest with yourself. This may seem unusual given that I am speaking about telling the truth to others, but I tend to believe until you can be honest about your own weaknesses or share of the blame or biases and even recognize your own ignorance <and can accept there is infinite to learn> you risk communicating a false truth which simply covers up your own lack of … well … something. Suffice it to say if you are not honest with yourself I sincerely doubt you can be accepted as honest to someone else.
All that self reflection kind of suggests a self truth – being honest with ‘self’ is about knowing – and accepting … yourself … that includes the good and the bad. That also means accepting that ‘I am still learning’ is nonstop until your last day. I tend to believe that this self reflection means that you are not only less likely to try to conform to other people’s expectations opinions, but, probably, also lessens the need to lie at all.
The truest of true benefits of thinking <and acting> this way is consistency.
“As long as they’re telling the truth, and saying the things that you don’t ever want to have to say to another human being.”
Expectations becomes very very important because in the end a truth teller is weaving their way through truth <note I did not say lies>. In fact most truth tellers are doing their best to separate the truths into hard truths and soft truths … big truths and small truths … the truths that matter and the truths that don’t matter all that much.
And then deciding whether the more soft truths, the small truths, and the truths that don’t matter all that much are not so important that they must be said. Oh. And also deciding whether the hard truths, the big truths, and the truths that matter … are important enough that keeping them silent is actually a detriment to truth itself.
Anyway. That sounds painful when I reread it. The real question becomes must painful truths always be told?
No. Surely not. We always need to realize that you don’t always have to tell someone the truth if it will be painful. Sometimes, with an acquaintance or friend, when no harm will come to them, you can omit something or tell a smaller truth. I call this ‘no harm, no foul.’
On the other hand. I have also learned to not beat around the bush and talk about a lot of other things first if you are actually going to tell the truth.
It only makes other people perceive that something’s wrong with what you are saying … and worse? That maybe you are not telling the truth.
So. Get to the point. The truth is the truth. Find a positive if there is any, unwrap it from all the bullshit, and lay it bare.
Ah. That ‘point.’ Some people call a ‘bare truth’ the painful truth.
Hell. I don’t know. I call it bare truth because it isn’t smothered in smoke. While the bare truth may be stripped of any gray … it bears the burden of vivid colors and the sense of a sharpened knife swiftly moving toward you.
Paradoxically … this moment of truth often seems to slow time. And, in that slow moment, the truth laid bare leaves the truth teller as unprotected as much as it may have opened up a wound in the receiver. For telling someone the truth bears the burden of permitting the receiver<s> to respond … to ask questions. This is the only way to even have a chance to come to terms with reality as a bare truth.
I know everyone says to be as specific as possible.
Yikes. Here is the trouble with that. Subjectivity. Or ‘the gray.’ When discussing intangibles there is often no clear black & white.
So how do you specifically describe gray? You cannot.
Oh. Speaking of baring things.
Truth has a nasty habit of reflecting that in speaking truth, you are rummaging around in someone’s life <personal or business … oh … which is personal too …> digging for the painful truth beneath some what is usually some fairly lovely <or attractive> lies.
Anyway. I imagine that telling someone the truth is like most things — balance. You have to recognize that the piece of truth you have pulled out while rummaging in someone’s life is a gift you uncovered and it is not something that was owed you or given simply because you are someone who ‘tells the truth’. As someone wrote … “on any given day I’d much rather be hit with ‘the hammer of truth’ than ‘the feather duster of truth’.”
Painful or not at the end of the day the truth is the truth … and most people much rather live a painful truth than a comfortable lie.
Look. Telling someone the truth has often got me in trouble.
Trouble in that the ‘pistol shot of truth’ doesn’t just lay bare truth it ultimately is a bullet to kill what someone believes, or hopes for, or just has a strong feeling about.
Therein lies the pain. Killing a thought or idea is no less painful than being killed <in this case>.
Here is the thing about being a truth teller and willing to tell someone the truth. If you have any soul or any desire to be good at it you just, well, keep learning. Learning new things about the world, and maybe more importantly, about yourself.
“… if you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler. A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than 100 years of introspection.”
You travel places or travel through knowledge and absolutely travel through ideas and thinking. You know what traveling where no one knows you also teaches you?
We are all learning.
We are all pretty much doing the best we can.
We are all work in progress.
All you can really do is … well … two things actually … listen & learn:
“The best decisions come from listening to ourselves”.
Listen to yourself.
I am still learning. What more could anyone ask of a truth teller. Truth rarely resides in the absolutes. In resides in the learning.
Telling the truth.
Like a pistol shot.