Honesty IS the best policy!

I have been my whole adult life. That doesn’t mean I never tell a lie (like good ole George. 😊 ) But, I value truthfulness and integrity over most all other things, except compassion. I earnestly try never to utter a non-truth, unless I am convinced the truth is just plain hurtful to someone else. 

But to be honest (ahem 😊), this commitment arises from more than me trying “to do the right thing.” I have also found honesty and integrity to be just plainly effective strategies for success. I experimented early on in my childhood with lying. I actually found I was pretty convincing at it. And, I learned pretty soon that lies had a short-term value. You could earn some value from lying that telling the truth would keep you from. And, this was reinforced by persons of authority. I can recall more than one occasion where I was punished in school for telling the truth, when my friend got off scott free, by lying about it. However, I also learned pretty soon, that lying was not a sustainable strategy. I could not keep up the story, either because I got confused on where the story was going, or the facts ratted me out, or I just felt plain guilty about it. (Ultimately, a lot of my tendency for truthfulness came from the examples of parents and other mentors.)

Honesty is, in fact, a great long-term path to success, in life, career, etc. Honesty and forthrightness, “do what you say, and say what you do”, has built up, over time, a network of friends and associates that trust me, and in whom I trust. This is absolutely not to say that I’m always right, or that I don’t piss people off. I am NOT always right, and I not infrequently make people mad. But, I have found over and over that folks will forgive quickly, if you “made an honest mistake”, and, of course, own up to it (honestly!) I have found success in my career, and in life, NOT by always being the smartest person in the room, but by always trying to tell the truth, listening to other folks’ truths, and being willing to admit when I’m wrong.

I firmly believe this same strategy for success applies to companies, large and small. If your company’s mission statement is only for marketing, and does not inform the behavior of the leaders or the staff, then this will eventually become obvious, to both the customers and the investors. If you consistently fail to deliver on your commitments, then you start to lose customers, and those you retain, start becoming more demanding (with contractual financial performance penalties.) I once worked for a CEO that stood up in front of the whole company, and stated that our “culture” was one in which everyone could have a “sit down” with any one else, and share honestly their perspectives — yet every one in that room knew that this did not apply to him. If you had the audacity to share honest performance impressions with the CEO, then you would very soon be shown the door!

All of this (rambling?) is to say, that honesty works. A company that (a) has a mission statement, and (b) consistently leads and performs based upon this mission, will be seen by both customers and investors, as worthy of trust. And both will be way more likely to stick with this company, when not everything is going great. That trust, and that integrity, have both intrinsic value (makes everyone feel good about themselves), but ultimately, will make for a stronger, more durable, more impactful, enterprise.

Just asked George. His honesty, is legendary (even if the cherry tree is an urban myth 😊.) And he was pretty successful, by any standards!