Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The tough truth about honesty

Getting what you want is tough. Figuring out what you want is even tougher. A seemingly simple sentence like "follow you bliss" or "do what you love" becomes exceedingly complicated when closely examined. Whether you're trying to get what you want or what will make you happy, not always the same thing, in a job, a relationship, a friendship, or the city you live in, getting what you want requires honesty. Sometimes brutal honesty. And to be honest you have to get real and dig out the truth, even if you don't really want to see it.

A year after graduating with our MBAs, some of my friends are at that one year mark when they're trying to decide whether or not to move forward in their current jobs. They're confronting some disappointments - a few have a different boss than they started with a year ago, a few have been shuffled into completely different responsibilities, and a few realize that they fell hook, line, and sinker for all that wining and dining companies did during recruiting season.

This last group I don't feel quite so bad for. If you couldn't see that wining and dining for what it really was, then you needed to learn the lesson the hard way. The two former groups I have enormous sympathy for. They signed up for a specific journey, to do what they truly wanted to do, and they spent a long time considering many different factors that are the ingredients to happiness. And then without warning, the picture changed and all of a sudden they ended up doing something they don't really like at all, despite their best efforts.

Disappointment is tough to deal with. Doing something about that disappointment it tougher. A heart to heart with yourself or the person causing the disappointment can help. Some times the differences can be resolved and you can get what you want by taking action. So while summoning the courage to be honest can be a Herculean task, if in the end you are happier, it's worth the effort.

The true difficulty comes into play when you make ever effort to get what you want, realize your situation is not going to improve, and then you either have to tough it out, unhappy, or walk. And there's often no right answer in this instance that is immediately apparent. Unhappiness makes it tough to get up in the morning, and it pervades every facet of your life. Walking away into the unknown is sometimes not even possible, or at the very least it's frightening. Sometimes it is easier to deal with the devil we know rather than the one we don't.

I put my best foot forward to get what I want. I have the hard conversations. I take a lot of time (and I am lucky that I have the luxury of time) to reflect and consider my happiness. I am patient for a considerable amount of time. For reasons that are too long to list here, I am obsessive about being happy - I just cannot imagine being content for a moment in another state. When I'm in a funk I'll do what it takes, even if it's uncomfortable, to get back to happy. When it comes to getting what you want, having non-negotiables helps.

1 comment:

Christa said...

As a follow-up to this post, I just read an article on managementtoday.com about the trend toward honesty even in the most difficult business situations.

Leaders in the business world are finding that being honest, even about difficult times, helps breed trust and respect. This article explores the pros and cons of being completely honest to customers and employees -- and although some disagree, it concludes that honesty helps recruit staff and creates loyal customers.