I’m often asked what I feel is the most important piece of advice to give to those just starting out in their careers. Hmmm, which one of a thousand…
I actually have thought long and hard about this over the years and I continue to land on one basic truth. It pertains to everyone, not just the newbies. It’s an integral part of everyday, every moment and every action…
Be honest. All-the-time.
The opportunity to practice (and master) honesty presents itself in so many ways and places each day – acknowledging mistakes, admitting when you’re wrong, giving credit where credit is due, sharing constructive criticism. Everyday in the workplace, and life, you’ll find yourself in situations where a slight variation to the truth might make things easier, might take the heat or focus off of you. It might even provide a moment of satisfaction, but trust me, those moments are fleeting; inevitably truth comes out and the “ick” that accompanies untruths revealed far outweighs the relief or satisfaction you may have experienced in the moment.
Let’s be honest, lying comes easier than telling the truth – to many of us anyway – as does denying or deflecting. They are immediate and innate responses to when we are cornered, afraid or embarrassed, but when skirting the truth becomes a daily practice, it’s impossible to learn from our mistakes, because we never truly acknowledged we made them. Lack of truth in our daily dealings stifles our ability to grow and evolve into better professionals, but more importantly, better human beings.
Try this, when you’ve messed-up – and that includes honest mistakes – when you’re called on something that’s truly of your own doing, just admit it. Right there, on the spot, in the moment. Don’t wax on regarding the reasons – how you got there, why you did it – just admit it. Not only will you feel better about yourself, the person addressing you will have nowhere to go and you’ll probably, ironically, gain their trust (and more than likely, their understanding).
As intimidating as this might sound, it’s actually enlightening, empowering, even freeing. There’s no baggage to carry forward, there’s only gained insight, maturity and professional and personal growth.
Make it a goal to be proud of who you are and how you conduct yourself each day. Go home knowing you couldn’t have done it any better – personally or professionally. If you do this, if you lay a foundation of honesty and integrity to support you, you will naturally and effortlessly evolve and grow and your character and accomplishments will become obvious to others.