2020 has been steamrolling ahead. Week one was extended holidays, week two was trying to get back into the swing of things, and this past week I was sick with the flu and in bed for most of it. This has got to be the slowest and bumpiest start of my 14-year career.
Although most of us would not volunteer for a week with the flu, it allotted more time for reflection than I have had in recent memory, and for that I am grateful. Here’s one of the things that stood out for me from the week.
One of our newer employees sent me a request for proposal (RFP) that she was working on because she needed more information and wasn’t sure where to find it. When looking at what was missing, I realized that in order to meet the basic requirements for submitting the RFP, I had to bend the truth—and by bend, I mean snap. I am openly admitting to you that I lied. So wait, the CEO of a company that touts itself as virtue-driven lied?! Yep. Sure did.
Since launching Spirit Consulting a little over a year ago, and having worked for my dad for 13 years before that, I have found it difficult to present my industry experience. I oversaw all client operations for most of the time that I was working for him, so I was technically a part of every search that came out of our office. And while I didn’t personally complete every search, they were all completed under my supervision. Would all of those clients remember me personally? Probably not. Would I recognize them if I saw them walking down the street? Unlikely. That doesn’t negate the fact that my leadership and training helped fulfill their needs.
This particular RFP was for a leadership position within higher education. One of the pieces of information to be included was the number of roles I had previously filled at this level. While none immediately came to mind, we completed a handful of academic jobs from 2013-2014, so while I couldn’t definitively say that I had completed a similar role before, I said that I had anyway. It felt wrong. You know the feeling—business creates opportunities for these sick feelings all the time. You can either do the right thing or cheat. I cheated. In my defense, I was sick, out of the office, and on my phone, so it would have been very difficult if not impossible to do the necessary digging even if I wanted to. Still, I could have stated that we had filled zero based on the evidence that I was able to supply at the time of the deadline.
If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you understand that what you are essentially doing is lying in order to gain an unfair advantage over your competitors. It’s the same reason professional athletes use performance-enhancing drugs. But at what cost?
As a Catholic Christian, I believe in a loving God who looks after and provides for his children according to their true needs. Lying and cheating to gain an unfair advantage over others is essentially a rejection of, and distrust in this foundational relationship – which has disastrous consequences in and of itself. But even outside of a religious context, most people are willing to frame this issue as one of conscience. Either way, it undermines our relationships and our communities at the most basic human level. Maybe this is why we get that sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we cross that boundary – it goes against the way we are hard-wired to help each other grow and thrive. To manipulate this is to choose a dangerous and destructive path; one that I have chosen more times than I care to admit.
Returning to our example, let’s say that I win the bid, but another opportunity comes along the following week for which I’m far better matched. Now I’m tied down with the other client, operating with limited capability, and burn a client that has greater potential to be a success and a life-long partner. Which one is the long-term win? Would it have been better to tell the truth from the start, accepting the outcome and trusting that everything will work out for the best? I think so.
Does anyone like to be lied to? If you’ve been on the receiving side of a lie, you know how it feels, how deeply it can hurt, and that the affects can last a lifetime. If we are truly striving to love and will the best for others, to treat them as ourselves, lying can have no place in our lives.
Tell the truth. Don’t lie. It seems so simple, but I’d press you to track how many little lies you tell daily, whether to yourself or others. They add up quickly and water down your reserve to tell the truth when it matters most. If you struggle with this – and we all do – I have found it helpful to focus on the impact that it could have. To quote Steven Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” Envision the potential positive and negative outcomes of the lie in your life and in the lives of others. I’m willing to bet that the negatives will always outweigh the positives, especially if you factor in the sacrifice of your integrity. I hope that this little ‘confession’ and reflection offers you some encouragement to become more fully the incredible person you were uniquely created to be – that our world needs you to be.
Have an outstanding year!
In Sinu Jesu,
About Spirit Consulting
Spirit Consulting is a boutique management consulting firm with clients across multiple industries and regions of the United States. We offer expert consulting in Executive Search, Business Strategy, and Work Psychology. Rooted in our relational, client-tailored approach, these service lines work synergistically to maximize your organization’s potential. Call (630) 621-3411 or email [email protected] for more information on how Spirit Consulting can help create the best version of your business. If you are interested in applying to jobs we are retained on, please visit www.spiritmco.com.