June 29 – Facing the hard truth

“It’s always better to face the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, than to continue coddling a lie.” (Lou Holtz)

I once worked for a director who would frequently tell his team “bad news does not improve with age.” The notion behind his statement and this quote is the same. If there is something wrong, if there is something to be dealt with, hiding it does not make it go away, and in fact usually makes it worse.

Too often I see people try to escape from difficult truths. They will create and maintain a story that things are going well, when they are not. Maintaining that lie takes an enormous amount of effort, and it makes dealing with the real situation that much more difficult. And, the longer the lie is maintained, the bigger the issue becomes when the truth is revealed, because now, not only does the original problem surface, but an additional problem – the lie – has been heaped on top for a double serving of trouble.

In the world of Project Management, this becomes an even bigger problem. When issues arise, dealing with them as quickly as possible allows everyone the maximum time, and greatest number of options for resolving the problem. The longer that the issues is hidden from view, the ability to react effectively to it is greatly reduced, until the remaining options are quite unpalatable.

I see this same truth play our in interpersonal relationships as well. I have watched, and personally experienced, many times when someone has something that bothers them. It will be something small, perhaps a mere annoyance, but the person chooses not to address it with the other person. Over time, another annoyance may pop up, and then another and another. Each are given the same treatment, until finally the person can no longer stand it, and they erupt. Now there isn’t just one minor annoyance to deal with, but a flood of issues. Emotions will run high, and the solution will be difficult.

It is not easy to face some truths. Whether it is bad news on a project, an annoyance with a loved one or friend, or any of a host of difficulties, facing the problem head on will take some courage. But taking on the alternative of hiding the problem and “coddling the lie”, will always result in things being worse.

Today I am reflecting on the question of where in my life am I coddling the lie rather than facing the difficult truth.

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