The Two Types of Truth

When what you do and what you say don’t match which one is the truth? Which one is the real you? How are people supposed to know? Do you even know? 

Is there a professional you and a personal you? A public you and a private you? Why are there two of you? 

I think we become two when we forget our Core Values, or worse, when we don’t know what they are to begin with. Just to be clear, Core Values are those values we hold which from the foundation of who we truly are. These are the values that are so primary and so important that even in a constantly changing world we still abide by them. These values determine how we work, how we interact with people and even which people we allow into our lives. They are the principles we use, or more likely, should be using everyday to determine how we live our lives. 

They also determine who we truly are. Truly!

It is far easier to talk about our Core Values than it is to put them on display. That’s why too often we appear to present two sides of truth: what we say are our values and what our values appear to be to others. 

Most people who see the two sides of your “truth” will just wonder which one is real. That “wonder” can cause doubt and doubt for a leader can be deadly. When your people don’t know which is real, what you say or what you do, they lose faith in your integrity and you lose the opportunity to lead. 

Authentic leaders live what they say. They know there is no stronger credibility than Core Values in action. Like my mom always said, “seeing is believing.” Once again this is where a mentor comes in handy, they care enough about you to call you on your two sides of truth. They won’t judge which one is right but they will cause you to choose between them.

Living our values is not easy, even our Core Values. No one is perfect and at times we will all slip. Core values, may not be at the top of our mind at all times but under pressure and duress they must be there.

As you decide to lead today, ask yourself which side of truth you will present today, the one you believe or the one you say you believe. The closer they are to one and the same, the closer you are to being an authentic leader. 

11 thoughts on “The Two Types of Truth

  1. You are truly on quite a roll with your posts Steve. Spot on. Again!

    Last year, I wrote a series of posts called The Quest for Truth series where I explored the many facets of truth. Truth (honesty) is a top core value for me and it IS a challenge to live that value in a practical way in our day to day lives. Not because being honest is difficult for me personally, as I’ve grown to truly VALUE honesty more then almost anything else. It’s that as I explored what on the surface appears to be a black and white issue, it really isn’t! Which was very unsettling to me because I want my core value neat and tidy, easy to handle to so I can have a better sense of my world and those in it. And what I found is that we live in a culture and world where the truth and honesty is given quite a bit of lip service (even SINCERE lip service) yet most people cannot handle the truth!

    This actually blows me away when I really began to recognize (and explore) the huge gap between what we humans honestly BELIEVE we value and hold dear and what we actually DO in our day to day lives!

    I even told one of my most highly value tweeps in private a short while ago, there are days where I feel I can’t BUY the truth to save my own life! Due to there being so much deception.

    For me personally, truth + love go hand in hand. For me, truth IS love and love IS truth. I can’t separate them. So when someone lies to me, I consider it to be a lack of love. And if I tell someone a lie, I consider that to be not loving them. They go together. And that is basically how I measure my relationships…based on how honest we can truly BE together. If we can’t be honest with one another (the people in my life), then there is very little love holding that relationship together. And that’s a big deal to me.

    Now, the older I get, the truth has become EASIER for me to share. I’m getting that side of the house down pat. Now the CHALLENGE for me continues to be in sharing it with the right amount of love. Truth without love is too hurtful. And love (kindness) without the truth doesn’t do anyone any good either. Kindness doesn’t matter much if it’s attached to a lie.

    And that’s a matter of maturity and the heart. When I’m ‘walking in the spirit’ then I’m able to more naturally RESPOND instead of react in various situations. If I’m caught up in a moment of fear, anger, (insert your fave here), I’ll react and my ‘truths’ shared may not contain very much love at the same time. That would be the most beneficial and helpful to the recipient. (Because I’m either consciously or unconsciously trying to protect myself)

    All around excellent post Steve. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wow! What a comment… Your comment reminds me of a person (who used to be a friend) who said lying was ok if it was to protect the person you lied to. Isn’t that a neat way to justify a lack of courage to be honest.

      It’s just easier to lie than to invest the time to figure out how to compassionately tell the truth. We take the path of least resistance and destroy our credibility along the way.

      Thanks so much for your incredibly thoughtful comment. It made the post about 10 times better. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’ve been on the RECEIVING end of so called ‘just for my protection’ lies. Was I ultimately protected? No. I was actually having years of my life wasted and being ROBBED from in terms of time and service. Had individual told me the TRUTH from the beginning, I would have had accurate information to make a more informed and wise decision for myself and family. The only protection that lie offered was to the person who lied. It was told to protect himself so that he could basically ‘have his cake and eat it too’. If he told me the truth, then he wouldn’t be able to continue to receive all the benefits he was receiving when I was operating under the ‘illusion of truth’. BTW: This lie impacted my life on both a personal and professional level.

        People who lie even when they are telling themselves they are merely doing it to protect the other person, are deluding themselves. Several things are going on and in no particular order they are and/or can be 1) devaluing the other person by believing they not only can’t handle the truth but aren’t WORTHY of the truth, 2) are generally receiving a payoff for lying or omitting the truth i.e. avoid conflict, avoid loss in terms of a relationship and/or money, property, position etc 3) refusing to take responsibility for what one REALLY wants and needs and passive aggressively projecting that responsibility onto the people they are so called ‘protecting’ who have no clue they are even being lied to in the first place…. and a host of other reasons people use to justify lying.

        Basically, it’s self-serving. Not something people do to protect others. EXCEPTION to this is in a case like during the holocaust where people intentionally lied to protect the Jews who were in hiding. Those are the more RARE situations where I would value the lie to protect human life in the face of OBVIOUS ‘evils’ in the world. If people told the truth, they would have been participating in the murder of innocent people. So which would you rather have on your conscience? I lie or a murder?

        Forgive me for digressing a bit there…however, the above DOES reveal how truth and lies aren’t ALWAYS as black and white as we thought they were once upon a time!

        Thank YOU for writing the post! I could only reply with the comment because YOU supplied the post! Collaborative, interdependent, creativity in ACTION!

        That’s how it works! haha : )

  2. Bill Benoist / Leadership Heart Coaching says:

    I genuinely value transparent leadership, and I found that if I am not the same person at work as I am at home โ€“ if I break one of my core values during the course of my job, it will haunt me.

    This actually happened years ago. I was asked to do something by senior management that went against my core being. Job security won the battle, but breaking a core value lost the war. I will never again sacrifice a core value.

    • Thanks Bill, sometimes it can take a long time but the core values always win. IF we have taken the time, invested the time, to really know and understand what they are.

      Knowing who and what we are allows us to return “home” before we get too far off track.

  3. Many leaders walk around trying to be something that they’re not. I agree.

    Their followers also show up less than their authentic self.

    More times than not, the leader is the mirror for the organizational behavior. How the leader shows up is how the followers show up.

    • In nearly every leadership talk I do I mention that your people are a reflection of you. Therefore, if you don’t like their attitude for instance, the best place to look for the source of it is in the mirror. That always goes over well ๐Ÿ™‚

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