(Note – all quotes have been paraphrased, as I wasn’t able to document the exact conversation. I may have missed some of the wording, but the ideas are solid. Sincere thank you to Jon Gilson for allowing me to write about our private conversation.)
Two weeks ago, I got to spend some one-on-one time with to Jon Gilson, owner of Again Faster. During our conversation, he mentioned that he hadn’t told a lie since he was 22 years old.
I made him repeat that, for clarification. Not one single lie, to anyone, for any reason? Nope. Not even a little white lie, designed to spare someone’s feelings? Nope. He tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In every situation. To every person. Period.
“But Jon,” I said, “everybody lies”.
“I don’t,” he replied. “I made a conscious decision a long time ago to always tell the truth. It’s not that difficult. And you’d be surprised – telling the truth is extremely liberating. Plus, it’s been the best thing I could have done for my business.”
The concept both confused and intrigued me. I pressed him to explain further. Like, what if your annoying, harpy mother-in-law wants to come over, and you just don’t feel like dealing with her? (For the record, my mother-in-law is freakin’ awesome, so this is purely hypothetical.) So as not to hurt her feelings, I would probably make something up, like we already had plans to go see a movie. I mean, I can’t just tell his Mom we don’t feel like seeing her.
Jon disagrees. He would simply say, “No thank you, we don’t feel like company tonight.” That’s a truthful and not especially hurtful response. But what if Mom still takes offense? He went on to explain that telling the truth often will offend people right away… but they get over it. And it feels good to tell the truth. Plus, you never have to worry about keeping your story straight. (Like when Mom asks what you thought of the movie.)
He also explained that his policy of absolute honesty has been really good for his business dealings. He lays everything out on the table, including his motivations and his interest. Gilson said sometimes his methods stop people in their tracks. “They wonder why I’d be telling them my secrets – like how much money I’m making on the deal.” But imagine reviewing a contract knowing
I started thinking about what kind of lies I tell. White lies, lies of omission, exaggeration. And whether I’d be able to tell the truth, all the time, no exceptions. I’m a pretty blunt person as it is. I don’t beat around the bush, I’m not especially empathetic and I won’t be nice just for the sake of being nice. But could I really NEVER lie, ever again? Take the pregnant employee who came to me last week and asked if I wanted to see her ultrasound picture. Um, no. I do not. I don’t even want to see pictures of
Think about the last time you told a lie. Maybe it was this month, or this week, or maybe even today. What kind of lie did you tell? What purpose did it serve? What if you didn’t lie – what would you have said, and what would the outcome have been?
Telling the truth would require an awful lot of concentration at first. I’m not saying I lie often – in fact, my lack of filter probably means I tell the truth more than lots of people. But in certain circumstances, white lies are practically automatic, and it might take a while to figure out how best to tell the truth in those situations. I’d like to say I’m going to give this a go, but I’m still not sure that, in every case, honesty is the best policy. You can believe that I’ll be giving it a lot of thought, though, because there is something about the idea that just seems so MAJOR. Like it could truly change your life. It sounds clean. Fresh. Stress reducing. Like it would somehow make me feel lighter.
As for Gilson, right before I left, he said, “Call me any time to train. We’d love to have you back down here.” And I know he meant it. Which feels really good.
Please post thoughts to comments.