Today's Hump Day Hmm asks us to talk about truth, honesty, and lying. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject of honesty, but I truly have always sought to be honest in my life. I have seen how honesty in difficult circumstances can avoid future problems. For this topic, I will tell one such story as an example of how refusing to be dishonest paid off for someone close to me.
A young engineer, early in her career, was given an assignment. She was told to write a report regarding deficiencies in the company, but her boss instructed her to blame all of the problems on the parent company. She knew that plenty of the problems were in her local office and she was torn. Should she write the report as instructed, or should she write what was accurate? Being a female engineer, she already felt like somewhat of an outsider, and between that and being new, it was easy to feel pressure to follow her orders. She then asked advice of her father, and he told her what he would do.
"Write the truth. If you lie now, you're stuck lying for the rest of your time there, and it can follow you even after that. If something goes wrong because they follow your report, they'll blame it on you. If they want you to lie on another report, they can hold this one over your head because you lied the first time. The worst thing they can do to you for being honest is fire you, and they can't afford to fire you for refusing to lie."
She listened, and she followed his advice. Her boss was not pleased, but as her father had assured her, they did not fire her. She has now been with that company through at least one buyout, perhaps two, and they have paid for her to get a masters degree in her field, worked with her through the birth of her two children, and promoted her through the ranks along the way. She has a good name and reputation for hard work and honesty. There's no telling what might have happened if she had lied instead.
I have often looked on that story with a great deal of admiration. I knew it was not an easy choice to ignore a demand to lie, and yet she stood by her ethics. My business is built on honest, ethical practices, and we have a great reputation because of it. I do not believe that businesses have to be deceitful or underhanded to succeed, nor do I believe that of individuals. Some of the most successful men and women I know have gotten where they are because of their keen sense of right and wrong, not in spite of it. So, as I said at the start of my post, I truly believe in honesty, and I strive to encourage my children and my employees to live by that same modus operandi. I would rather pay the price for my mistakes by admitting to them than to have to learn how to lie just to hope to avoid them for a while.