Let’s Be Honest.

Let’s Be Honest.

It is an election year here in New Zealand.  That means, as a voter, I can look forward to being lied to by several established and/or up and coming politicians and political parties.Joy.So, just like all the other voters, I’ll be sifting through, and hoping to piece together a clear idea of what is fact and what is fiction.  Then I’ll go to the polls to cast my vote and make a decision that I can live with until the next election.  At the moment, sadly it seems I am just attempting to decipher the least of the many evils on offer, but I do believe everyone feels that way about their choices when it comes to politics.  And a healthy dose of cynicism is a vital ingredient in a functioning democracy.

All of this got me thinking about the concept and relevance of honesty. Is there a place for it? Is it a worthwhile and steadfast virtue?

In a more immediate reality than the race for the Beehive (our quirky and iconic parliament building) I’ve had front row seats as some people become the masters of their own undoing, by actively and shamelessly lying and henceforth getting caught in a very sticky web that they spin themselves.

We’ve all had to deal with this type of person in one capacity or another.  They’ll tell several different stories to several different people or groups of people to further their own agendas.It seems that life all too frequently plays out a bit like a James Cameron film or a Shakespearean comedy.  The virtuous are often left to nurse wounds after having been dealt the slings and arrows set upon them by ne’er-do-wells or people who are jealous or in some other capacity offended.  Life does seem to swing with a rhythm that leaves good people set upon and having to show extra strength and resilience in the face of attack.Eventually, people are set free and vindicated by being consistent, kind and forthright.  And none of that stuff is easy!  Why would anyone be mean, manipulative or cruel if there were absolutely no advantage?  Sadly, being dishonest can be a shortcut to getting what you want, and bad people do sometimes get ahead.  For a while they may even appear to be above reproach.

I believe people get trapped in the webs of lies that they’ve weaved themselves.  So leave them to it, and take the high road, it is absolutely the best investment you can make in yourself and your reputation.

People’s reputations are seriously their greatest resource or liability.  So guard yours, and be discerning when you’re being filled in on somebody else’s.

I’ll wrap this up with some pointers that I try to engage when attempting to separate truth from fiction

1)  If it all sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

We all know people who are die-hard optimists, and that can be really great and refreshing.  Just make sure that they’re authentic.  Check facts, and don’t be afraid to ask questions (kindly and diplomatically if possible) if something seems a little too good to be true.  The truth about worthwhile situations, people, and relationships, is that they will be tough from time to time.  Getting to know people or brands or becoming familiar with anything means their flaws and foibles will become apparent as you gain more knowledge.  So if something is pitched to you in a light of nothing but all reward, no responsibility, you’d be safest to be very cautious.

2)  Be prepared to take the bad with the good, and don’t be scared off too early or easily.

While it is important to remain vigilant if things seem too good to be true, it is also important to take things at face value, if that is what is being offered.  We’re all broken, all things have many sides and angles, every success comes with some degree of sacrifice. Our friends, family, idols and the brands, and all things we love the most will all let us down from time to time. So be aware that nothing and nothing is perfect, and be prepared to accept and even share the less than ideal aspects of yourself and the brands you manage.  And don’t be afraid of the truth, even if it is less than pleasant.  Saying that, know when to call it a day and count your losses as well.  If something really isn’t working, don’t stick around and let yourself get soiled by a filthy reputation. Stand up and be loyal when it has been earned, and you’ll be repaid in kind.

3)  Know when to walk away, and don’t get caught up in a mud-slinging match as the only thing you’ll lose is more ground.

If you’re faced with a heaped helping of nasty, chances are, some part of you will want to retaliate.  Remain calm, and if the nasty things are based in truth, the best thing you can do is accept responsibility for mistakes you have made, and be the bigger person.  Let other people do the slinging, obscuring, lying and twisting of the truth.  I implore you to be cool, calm and honest.  You’ll find that not joining in on that freak-show will serve you well in the long run.  Not convinced?  Here’s a few stunningly beautiful case studies that illustrate my point:

–      The Streisand Effect is an internationally acknowledged phenomenon that occurs when you try and hide or obscure facts and they snap back and bite with all of the fury of severely successful viral Internet campaign

–      Honest Slogans has actually increased the strength and success of some of the brands they’ve mocked because those brands have embraced the honesty and had a good chuckle along with everyone else.  Packing a sad or taking huge offense would not be so endearing.

–      Celebrity Mean Tweets have taken the power away from the trolls and landed it back squarely in the hands of the celebs who are joining in on the phenomenon.  Those participating are generally way more likeable and the power of cowardly trolls has been turned on them thanks to this little Internet sensation that is generally attributed to Jimmy Kimmel.

–      Jack Layton.  This guy survived and thrived in the mean streets of Ottawa (Canada’s political capital) and took his party from the underdog to the official opposition.  Even those who did not like or agree with him openly respected his authenticity and integrity.

4)  Listen to your gut.If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  We all have intuition, and there will be times when you come across someone that just doesn’t sit well with you.  When this happens, tread lightly, and keep your mouth closed and ears open whenever you are dealing with them.5)  Do your research.

We all joke that we “stalk” or “Google” people online before we meet them if we are about to engage in any sort of business or personal relationship with them.  This really isn’t a joke.  It is important that you understand what is published about you, and what people are seeing and learning about you when they do their research.  It is equally important to spend a bit of time and energy learning about the people you are going to be dealing with as well.

6)  Ask.

If something that somebody has done or said has upset you, muster up the courage to confront them about it.  This is going to stop the vast majority of potential conflicts or ruined relationships before they hit crisis level or the point of no return.  Just be careful in your delivery and choose your words wisely.  In most cases, your honesty and courage will be appreciated.  If facing the situation head on and asking questions causes someone severe offence, you may have saved yourself some time and trouble by learning that the person is not compatible with you or your needs and vision.  So count this as a win and walk away and don’t sling mud in their direction, they’ll probably dig their own hole in time anyway.

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