Truth and Ashley Madison
I don’t claim to be the perfect husband or the world’s best dad. Like any of us, I have my share of flaws and warts. I don’t judge and make it a point not to step up on my soapbox and proselytize about an absolute right or wrong or some moral imperative. In fact, if you were to catch me preaching about anything, it would be about the importance of acceptance and open-mindedness. I am not going to use this article to espouse my position on the actions of the customers of Ashley Madison. I will leave that for a greater societal debate. The only point I would offer is that in my opinion, a marriage, like any relationship is forged in trust and respect, and I would have a hard time reconciling how Ashley Madison is aligned.
"if you were to catch me preaching about anything, it would be about the importance of acceptance and open-mindedness".
What I do want to use the balance of this article to explore is the very intrinsic benefit of truth in leadership. It is hard to lead, to run a company or a division. The demands, expectations and deliverables can be overwhelming. Yet, we add to this weight when we start hanging skeletons in our own closets. Skeletons appear in many forms. The can range in intensity from Ashley Madison to simply sandbagging a budget. They are the litter of our own deceit. It could be a simple mistake made that is brushed under the carpet. It could also manifest as an outright lie told to a colleague or superior to advance one’s career. They often may appear trivial at the time, but their weight can be crushing. Think of those customers of Ashley Madison, whom are at this moment in deep fear that their spouse may choose to enter their email to see if they were involved. That angst must me unbearable, maybe deserved, but unbearable nonetheless.
There is an old axiom, often repeated; “The truth will set you free”. When you make a mistake, own it, wear it and learn from it. It may be tempting to burry it, hoping it will go away. But bearing that burden of trying to protect that secret will inevitably be far more challenging than admitting to the error at the onset. Mistakes are not things for which to be ashamed. They are indications of effort and of trying. It is when mistakes become habits that it should be of concern. Show me someone who is not making mistakes and I will show you someone who is just playing it safe. There is also zero upside to attempting to advance one’s career though deceit or disingenuous acts. It may not catch up to you immediately, but you will wear that disingenuousness like a suit of bricks. It will be your constant companion weighing you down and nine out of 10 times it will rear its teeth and bite you in the end.
There is no doubt that honesty is at times frightening. You may feel vulnerable, even silly or diminished. But honesty is immediate, you have met the situation and you can move forward. Dishonesty lurks in the shadows searching for the most inopportune time to dance into the light. You spend your time looking over your shoulder and under your bed. The damage done by deceit can be catastrophic, it can destroy your reputation, implode relationships and ruin a business. But rather than to admit to a difficult truth, it is so tempting to occlude it behind the veil of dishonesty. Simply don’t do it. Let it float, own it, wear it and learn from it.
I don’t write this article as someone who has never had skeletons in my closet. Rather, I write this from the perspective of somebody who has been emancipated from them. Let me tell you, boy does that lightness feel great. Never again and I am not lying.
What has been your experience with your skeletons? What are you doing to become fully free from their hold? Please share your experiences and thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
Elliot Begoun is a Business Growth Specialist and the Principle of The Intertwine Group. His purpose is to help businesses and business leaders grow. He works to solve real issues, establish strategic guardrails, develop integrative leaders and foster employee enlightenment.
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