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Truthtelling - Your #1 Superpower

I’ve coached hundreds of clients, and in every singe case, it is clear that what these individuals want professionally is the same - to find work that:

  • is meaningful for them that has a positive impact in some way;

  • allows them to feel good about themselves and their contributions; and

  • provides positive feedback and recognition.

What I love about this knowledge is that now there is nothing to hide – yes people aren’t going to match with every job, or career, but absolutely everyone has a thing that is for them. Usually someone engages a coach because they aren’t happy about something, and they want to make a change as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Often my clients are looking for clarity on next steps, or looking for strategies to level up their leadership, transition into a new or more senior role, and sometimes its about setting themselves apart as a candidate for the job they want.

In all of these coaching conversations, we eventually arrive at the same place. I encourage them to see the truth and to be confident enough to accept it and speak it out loud.

I was helping to prepare a client for a big interview recently, and he asked; “what do I tell them about the gaps in my resume?” I told him that his best option was the tell the truth. Ideally, in the best possible light, and in a way that provides additional context – what you learned, how you grew - but still…the truth. When a recruiter asks you about the areas that are ‘growth opportunities’ for you, when a colleague asks your opinion about a project, when you’re offered a job that is technically a promotion, but its not the one you want. The best course of action in all of those instances is to let yourself be honest. It will be ugly, uncomfortable, and sometimes it will make you awkward, but its going to work out better for everyone in the long run.

The 1-minute walk into the uncomfortable thought

Sometimes we can’t speak the truth because we haven’t been able to see it or articulate it to ourselves! This is when I challenge myself to stay with the uncomfortable thought long enough to understand it better. For me, usually a when I have an anxious thought, I try to bat it away like a mosquito – when it starts to buzz around me, I’ll move quickly away from it, not wanting it to land on me because the fear of that discomfort is just so yucky. I suspect this is what many of us do, and it makes sense – of course our instinct is to recoil from things that hurt us.

But I figured out that for me – taking the 1-minute walk and stepping into that uncomfortable place will help me to figure out what the heck is making me feel so bad. Before I do it, I promise myself I’m just going to be there for a minute, and I imagine myself curiously stepping into a new room in my own mind. I know that I only have to be in this place for one-minute, and then never again, unless for some reason I choose to come back. Every single time I’ve been willing to do that 1-minute walk, it has helped me. That short feeling of discomfort provides a lot more clarity in terms of the truth of something – which can then lead to what options are available to. It also makes me feel proud of myself for doing something hard that most people wouldn’t do.

When you have an instinct to not tell the whole truth, get curious about it

Often my instinct to not be completely honest comes from a desire to please others, a fear of conflict or a desire to avoid unnecessary drama. Sometimes I really just don’t want to accept reality. Whatever the reason, if there is an instinct to not be completely honest, that says something - there is something important in that instinct that has a lot of value and is worth understanding. Try to challenge yourself to notice every time you want to not be completely honest with yourself or with others. And then, despite the discomfort, go ahead and truth-tell anyway.

The truth is a superpower

By letting yourself be seen as you are and by saying inconvenient things out loud, you’ll remove the nervousness and anxiety that comes from pretending to be the person you think people want to see and doing the things that you think you are supposed to do. Truth telling makes every subsequent action and conversation easier. If you aren’t sure what the truth is, try to ‘walk into’ that yucky place for a minute to see what happens. I encourage you to try it out and see how it goes.

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