We’ve all grown up with this phrase: Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
There’s an interesting parallel between business leadership, executive coaching, and court proceedings where this phrase resides. And I’d suggest that it’s time for these lines to diverge.
It’s what I explore in my book, The Art of Significance: Law five—Know the Whole Truth Instead of Believing What You Think.
The fact is, the truth hurts sometimes. It won’t always be what you want to hear. Sometimes it might be negative. But to live a life of significance as a business leader, you always have to get the whole truth.
And, chances are, you won’t always want to hear it.
It’s Time to Live a Life of Significance by Searching for the Whole Truth
Hearing the whole truth will make you uncomfortable. And it should.
If you want to feel successful, you’ll only have to ask questions and get the answers you wanted—not the answers you needed.
I see this all too often. Employers ask leading questions and get responses that confirm their pre-existing beliefs.
Significant leaders, motivational speakers, and other business leaders ask tough questions and get tough – sometimes unflattering – answers. They seek the whole truth.
Real Leaders are Ready to Hear the Whole Truth
The Disney corporation is renowned for exceptional customer service. Why? Because their leaders are willing to hear the bad news.
They are exceptional leaders.
Disney doesn’t rely solely on customer feedback surveys to assess their success or failure at delivering a quality product. They ask the people who are providing the product about their firsthand experience.
Disney doesn’t shy away from feedback. Executives are ready to hear what they need to hear to grow as a business.
And this is what every motivational speaker, keynote speaker, business leader, and any other type of executive should strive for.
Even bad feedback is good feedback.
Disney thrives off of a corporate culture that lends itself to reflection. Their executives are willing to hold up a mirror and a microscope to find out how they can improve an already captivating and popular tourist experience.
They’re open to feedback.
As a result, their resorts have a well-earned reputation for being “the happiest place on Earth.”
Are you open to feedback?
Three Forms of Feedback You can Practice to Start Accepting the Whole Truth
1. Factual feedback
Factual feedback constitutes the cold, hard facts of our current reality
It is neither positive nor negative – it just is. It gives you cold hard facts to work with to achieve sales targets, meet quality control objectives, and more.
Factual feedback is the whole truth—it is a scoreboard that gives you the details you need to know about your progress and how you can improve.
2. Motivational feedback
Motivational feedback is the cheering section.
It’s valuable and isn’t the same as seeking a pat on the back for some minor success. It’s giving a colleague a boost when they’re on the home stretch. And acknowledging their achievements to date and urging them to continue their efforts.
Factual feedback recognizes the effort someone made to be better today than they were yesterday.
We need motivational feedback to get us to hustle. It triggers the adrenaline and endorphins we need to dig deep and compete.
3. Educational feedback
Educational feedback is correctional coaching.
It’s the teacher telling the child, “I love the way you attempted this math problem, but this is the change you must understand and implement to get the correct answer.”
Sometimes having a vision isn’t enough—you have to teach your team how to deliver the vision.
How do you drill down to the whole truth?
If your company is open to genuine feedback – without judgment or recrimination – you’re well on your way.
By increasing how often we receive all three forms of feedback, we cannot only change our behavior, but we also can pick the most appropriate behavior to positively affect the outcome of a task, event, or game.
Feedback, in all its forms, confronts us with the clear choices we face, and then it’s up to us to make the right decision.
If our goal is significance, no single one of these forms of feedback will suffice because no single form on its own will yield the whole truth.
If you’re struggling to search for the whole truth, or if you struggle with receiving feedback, there are some things you can do.
Here are Four Steps You Can Take in Your Search for the Whole Truth
1. Make a list
By now, you should know that I’m a big believer in lists. They help you focus and keep you accountable.
To help you on the path of finding your whole truth, create a list of the seven major areas of life: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social, financial, and familial.
Identify the feedback systems you have in place to measure your level of performance in each area. Whatever your system is, increase the frequency of feedback.
If your business still prints quarterly reports, change them to a monthly report, a monthly to every two weeks, and a weekly to a daily one.
If you check to see how your kids are doing in school monthly, try doing it every two weeks.
Your ability to make informed decisions will increase immediately.
2. Challenge your bias
Pick a controversial topic – abortion, gun control, Middle Eastern politics – and reflect on your current beliefs. Then do the research.
As you gather information, separate emotion from fact and circumstantial evidence from opinion.
Then, write a one-page essay defending the opposite view from what you already believed.
3. Research your sources
Look up the most influential people in American media, including the highest-level producers and decision-makers on the air, the most talented writers and directors in television, the top editors at newspapers, magazines, and publishers.
Understand their perspective and filter accordingly because bias is a human condition and unavoidable. There is no such thing as a neutral journalist, leader, pastor, or parent. We all have a history and a set of moral values that we don’t get to check at the door when we enter the workplace.
4. Earn your promotion
It’s essential to know the whole truth about getting a promotion.
As great as your current knowledge and skills may be for your current job, are they the skills needed to get to the next level?
The top sales professional doesn’t necessarily make a great manager; an all-pro athlete rarely makes a great coach.
To make sure you prepare yourself for advancement, name two skills you currently excel in and plan how you can leverage those skills for promotion.
Next, name two skills or knowledge sets you will need at the next level and sign up for classes or informational interviews to equip you to get that promotion.
Are you ready for the whole truth?
Success comes from working for an organization, but significance comes from working on yourself.
It’s possible to make self-improvement and self-confidence a daily endeavor. Just like an exercise regime, you can build the muscles it takes to live a life of significance.
If you’d like to learn more about living a life of significance, you’ll find a more in-depth conversation in my book, The Art of Significance, attending one of my virtual keynote speaker events, or hiring me as a Life Coach.
If you’d like to learn more about how to begin that journey, I’m here to help. I’m a motivational speaker, keynote speaker, and executive coach. So let’s get started.