“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy
I’m excited for you to listen to this week’s podcast, partly because it came about when our guest, Harry Kraemer, was invested enough in me to be a truth-teller.
Here’s a little background on Harry: over a 20+ year career, he rose through the ranks of Baxter International, a multi-billion-dollar healthcare company, and ultimately served as the CEO. Today he is a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management focused on leadership and values.
As you will hear in the podcast, after reading an early draft of my upcoming book Smart Growth, Harry made the pointed observation that in what I had written, I wasn’t living my values. He perceived that I seemed to be hiding from or shying away from my true point of view. One result of his observation was that chapter two changed considerably.
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We all need truth-tellers in our lives. These are people who care enough about us to risk telling us the truth and to show us our blind spots, even when it might be uncomfortable for them. Another truth-teller for this book was an award-winning young adult fiction writer, Julie Berry. Neither she nor Heather Hunt, one of our team’s primary writers/editors, pull punches. After Julie read a not-so-early draft of the manuscript, the best and only word to describe what she did was evisceration.
These are all people whose opinions I value. All people I respect. All people who help me become a better leader and author, and a better person.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be a truth-teller myself, to speak the truth as I saw it. It was not easy to do. I, like most people, want to be liked. When we tell people things they may not want to hear, they may not like us quite so well. I want to be a cheerleader, and I am and will continue to be. But to be a coach (and true cheerleader!) I have to be willing to tell people the truth.
It’s the only way they will know that I am truly investing in them.
If we can hear the truth when it’s spoken to us—even when painful, even when we don’t like it—and we can internalize it and recognize the goodwill that motivates it, it can have a lot of power in our lives. We will be better because of it. Our relationships can be improved, refined, and strengthened by it. The truth spoken with goodwill has more power to do good than any amount of glib half-truth. The truth will set us free.
Who is invested enough in you to tell you the truth?
To whom have you been willing to speak the truth?
Who do you want to invest in, with the truth?
Truth-telling can feel risky and be difficult. Acknowledge your truth-tellers and express your thanks.
As always, thanks for being here!