Truth or Consequences

When I was seven, I moved for a brief time to Columbus, Georgia with my family while my father went on active duty for the Army. I was a new kid in a new school and wanted to make friends quickly.

One day in music class, the teacher asked if any of us knew how to play the piano. Eager to make an impression, I volunteered that I had learned on my grandmother’s piano. The only part of this that was true was that my grandmother owned a piano. I thought if everyone believed I was so talented, it would help earn their respect and admiration.

When our teacher asked me to come forward and play something, I knew I was in big trouble. Up until that point, I had never known how entertaining the truth could be. Kids just love seeing someone make a complete fool of themselves.

Telling the truth is not always easy. Lying is. And yet I’ve never seen, where in the long run, telling a lie has proven useful. If one truly wishes to live a successful life, honesty is not only the best policy, it’s the only policy.

Being truthful might not be easy, but it is simple. When faced with a question, we have three choices: we can tell the truth, we can lie, or we can refuse to answer the question.

For those of us striving to lead lives of personal and professional excellence, we must look carefully at how we operate. Do we tell the truth? Always?

Under what circumstances do we feel justified in telling less than the truth? Does it ever pay off positively? Where and when do we lie to ourselves? Do we live our lives in a manner whereby we’re never tempted to lie or cover up our actions? For me, it’s a constant examination. And I continue to find areas where I’m less than forthright—especially with myself.

It’s been almost fifty years since that humbling experience in my second-grade music class. I’d like to say I learned my lesson once and for all; that I never again misrepresented the truth. But that wouldn’t be the truth. I’ve managed to blow it many times since—although never quite so embarrassingly.

Sir Walter Scott knew the wisdom of truth-telling when he wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

At no time in history has it been harder to lie and get away with it. The information age has made it likely that the truth will at some point be exposed.

Bet on the truth. Six-and-a-half-thousand years of recorded history have given us story after story proving that nothing justifies nor warrants lying—nothing.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Angier is founder and CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer) of SuccessNet--a support network helping people and businesses grow and prosper since 1995. Get their free Resource Book ($27 value) of products, services and tools for running your business more effectively. And most of the over 150 resources are FREE to access and use.