Early on in the process of writing my book (coming out a bit later this year), my incredible book coach, Kim, introduced me to a concept that really challenged me.
She told me that, as a writer, I was going to have to grapple with the role that accuracy played in my stories.
“Accuracy,” she said, “sometimes gets in the way of Truth. When you are in a situation where you have to choose between being accurate or being truthful, always go for the truth.”
I had never paused to consider how massaging a few details here and there might actually help me frame up the bigger picture more successfully, how shifting a few of the details might reveal the point of the story more effortlessly, how changing names or characters might let the truth ring out. It shocked me to consider that that I could be truthful and not share the facts, the facts, and nothing but the full, complete and accurate facts.
And I wanted to the Truth to shine.
To be primary.
You see, accuracy and Truth aren’t always synonyms.
I was reminded of this conversation and the impact it made on me the other day while I was in a branding workshop with one of the incredible business owners in our strategic growth community at Legacy Leadership Institute, (Erin).
We were discussing her brand personality and were giving it anthropomorphized traits. Meaning that we were describing her brand as if it were a living breathing person.
She, like me, is someone for whom integrity is key and she was telling us that she’s built an up-front attitude into the fabric of her business. It shows up in the way that everyone within her company approaches client interactions, especially in sales.
They don’t sell people products and services that they don’t need. For them, truthfulness trumps transactional value. Every time. They put their money where their mouth is, and they tell the customer the truth even if it might mean that they don’t get the sale.
We all agreed that that’s a trait worth highlighting so all five of us around the table were brainstorming specific words that might help express this trait. Words like honest, open, fair, upright, transparent, truthful and a few other synonyms went up on the list.
But we could only pick one.
We had whittled the options down and it was a dead heat between Honest and Transparent. Although honest felt like maybe it was a little dated and overused, there was still something about it that kept it on the board. We were having a rich and full discussion of what made each word work and we were still undecided.
After a brief moment of silent thought, our Brand Architect broke the silence with a stunning observation.
“Transparency,” she said, “implies that you are going to share information proactively without needing to be asked. Honesty doesn’t necessarily mean full and complete disclosure. An honest person will tell the truth when asked. But, if they don’t offer that information, unsolicited, they’ll continue to be considered honest. A transparent person won’t make you ask.”
That was it.
The choice was undeniably clear for her brand.
They are Transparent.
Ever since that moment, I’ve been pondering the role of Truth in our lives and businesses. Whether as an author, an entrepreneur, a leader, there are so many facts and details, so much texture and timing involved in telling the Truth, in sharing the Truth, in revealing the Truth about yourself, your business, your operations, your plans, your present, your future. And it’s our it’s our job – our responsibility and our privilege – to develop a keen understanding of when what reveals the truth and what obscures it.
We have to learn when to show them, when to hold them, and when to fold them and when to keep them in the deck.
It’s a discipline well worth developing, don’t you think?