I am an honest person. I wasn’t always.
About six years ago or so, I “got sober.” I hate describing it that way, feels like I landed somewhere between “got milk,” and “got crabs.” Mostly, I just stopped doing drugs and drinking. I even, pretty much, stopped smoking.
When I realized it was time to clean up my act I knew that I also had to live differently. Primarily, I had to change the mental dynamic that I was mired in immediately. I knew that there was something wrong in my brain, but like most of what I had done to that point, I figured I would just power past it.
I was wrong. This was something that was bigger than me, something that couldn’t be solved with a mix of ego and elbow grease. I had to come up with a few rules. Two to be specific.
1) Always Be Honest.
2) Always Do the Right Thing.
My first rule has had a bigger impact on my life than anything I have ever done.
Honesty is not easy. Josh Breinlinger’s post VCs are liars. And so am I. is a great example of how it seems honesty should work, but that in practice, it appears to be more humane, more appropriate to lie.
But what happens if you don’t have that choice?
Honesty becomes brutal. Not only can you no longer tell lies with the intent to not harm others, you cannot lie to yourself.
Think about that for a second. You cannot lie to anyone, including yourself.
During any given day, we lie to ourselves perhaps hundreds of times. Be it about our clothing or style, if it’s how we dealt with someone, or how much money we spent. We lie constantly to ourselves.
And we love it.
Take that away, and everything gets called into question. There is no longer the ability accept anything as absolute truth. You have to think through every action to ensure that its an act of truth, that you are doing it because it’s the right thing to do, that what you are doing matters.
Your relationships suffer.
I warn people when they ask me questions if they want me to respond. I explain my belief in brutal, complete honesty — without judgment or emotion — and that I will provide it without omission.
It’s hard. I am not mean. I am extremely direct. I expect to have the same in return, and I ask for complete honesty.
The external reaction has been interesting. I have been called a dick (easy one), emotionless (surprising one), intense (don’t get that one), refreshing (still think it’s too bad that honesty is refreshing), and most often, raw (like sushi, baby!)
It has changed how I view myself. I see all the inconsistencies, shortcomings and errors in my choices and even in my physical being (I tend to lean to the left, my eyes are droopy, and my right hand tends to get dark around the knuckles).
It has released me.
Truth drives everything. It reduces the time spent on anything else. Conversations become shorter (well, they would if I wasn’t so verbose), clearer and direct.
I am able to spend more effective time contemplating because there are fewer things to think about.
Mostly, being completely honest makes me feel better about me. I know who I am, and I know what matters.
What I learned by always being honest, is that I am no longer scared of the truth, because I have faced it. And won.