“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
This article was inspired by a short email we received recently from a new course student:
Dear Marc and Angel,
In one of your recent emails you asked your students to think about a weakness they’d like to change. Mine is telling lies. Although they’re usually just little lies, I’ve gotten carried away. I lie about things all the darn time mostly to just make myself appear better than I am… because I want to impress people. But it’s getting harder! I feel like every little lie leads to another one, and it’s wearing on me. I’m sick of my own dishonesty! Please help me break this habit. I need some motivation to make a change once and for all. Your wisdom on this topic would be greatly appreciated.
A Dishonest Student
Our reply (an open reply to all who have lied to impress people):
Dear Dishonest Student,
It’s time for a quick story about life…
Once upon a time, an aging king knew the end of his life was nearing, and he decided it was time to designate a successor. Since he had sadly lost his wife and children in a terrible accident, he chose to pass the throne on to one lucky child. So he summoned children from every corner of his kingdom and asked them to visit the castle immediately.
When the children arrived, he gave each of them one little brown seed. “I want you to plant your seed, give it sunlight and water, and take good care of it,” he said. “In exactly six months from today, return to the castle with the plant you’ve grown. The child who grows the most beautiful plant will be mentored by me to become the next king or queen!”
One of the lucky children who received a seed that day was a young girl named Skye. She immediately ran home and carefully planted her seed in a pot of nutrient-rich soil, and then placed it on a well-lit windowsill. Every day Skye watered and cared for her seed. A few weeks later several other children in her school began bragging about their beautiful plants, but Skye’s pot was still empty. Despite her constant care, her seed hadn’t grown at all.
Six months passed by quickly, and it was time for all the children to return to the castle to show the king the plant they had grown. Skye didn’t want to go with her empty pot of soil, but her parents told her to be honest about her failure. Discouraged and dejected, Skye listened to her parents and returned to the castle. She stood quietly at the very back of the room where the king would be evaluating everyone’s plants, and waited to be judged.
As the king entered the room he looked amazed to see so many beautiful plants. He then proceeded to walk from child to child admiring what they had grown. And the closer the king got to Skye, the more her eyes welled up with tears.
The king eventually stood before her and her empty pot of soil. “What is your name?” the king asked.
“Skye,” she said with a whimper.
“Where is your plant, Skye?”
Hanging her head in humiliation, Skye took a deep breath and then looked up at the king and told the truth: “Your majesty, I planted the little brown seed you gave me in this pot, and I gave it plenty of sunshine and water every single day, but the seed did not grow at all. I have failed.”
Suddenly, the king’s voice thundered throughout the room, “Behold! My successor! Your next queen! Her name is Skye!”
Silence and confusion swept over the room as the king continued, “Six months ago, I gave everyone here a boiled brown seed that could not grow into a plant. Only Skye had the heart and courage to share the truth with me today. Soon enough, she will lead our kingdom very well!”
As friends, as family members, as teammates… too often we feel the need to lie about our experiences and accomplishments, simply to make ourselves appear bigger and better than we are. We believe that if we constantly show off the “beautiful plants” we’ve grown, others will love and respect us. But this is far from the truth (no pun intended).
When we share our truths openly and honestly, not only do we build the kind of trust that opens doors to deeper relationships and real opportunities, but we also make it easier for the people we spend our lives with to be more open and honest with us, which makes every moment together healthier and more peaceful.
Marc and Angel
Please leave a comment below and let us know:
How do you find the strength to stand by the truth, even when doing so is difficult?
Anything else to share?
We would love to hear from YOU. 🙂
Also, we recently released our NEW podcast, THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER (yes, it shares the title of our annual live event). You can listen to the first 10 episodes on your favorite podcast player right now (M&A on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts).
Finally, our next annual Think Better, Live Better conference is taking place February 8-9, 2020 in San Diego. We just released 4 more discounted early bird tickets that are still available right now (while they last).