Going towards truth

Takes guts, involves risk, can feel like walking through the fire.

Turning away, though, doesn’t mean that the truth you’re ignoring doesn’t exist.  It just means that you’re choosing not to see it and stand before it.

Bear witness, find courage, go towards truth.

Out loud

What if you committed, for a little while, to verbalize the great ideas that pop into your head?  The important, risky (-seeming) ideas that represent what’s really on your mind.  The ones that you don’t say because they’re a bit too real, too honest, too to the point.

There are few skills more important than being able to say the right thing at the right time in the right way to shift a whole conversation.

One-on-one conversations, group conversations, high-stakes and low-stakes conversations, all are susceptible to that kernel of truth and insight that breaks them wide open.

The entire business school case method is geared, ultimately, towards teaching this skill.   For two years you sit with 85 incredibly bright people, and the class is orchestrated by a Professor who, if she’s good, is looking for just one thing: getting students to learn how to integrate the case content and the points made by other classmates, pulling those threads and her own observations together to get to real insight, all in a way that move the discussion forward.

You can save yourself $200,000 and two years at a top business school by starting, today, to say your great, good and OK ideas out loud.  The best place to start?  Not necessarily the ideas you think are the best ones.  Start with the ideas you’re afraid to say out loud, the ones that make your heart beat a little faster.  Fear is a great indicator of how real they are and how much truth they contain.

It’s true that saying these things in a way that they are actually heard is itself an art.  But you’ll never practice that art if your most important ideas are kept under lock and key.

Quiet, and silence

Pay attention, the next time you hear someone speak, to the difference between quiet and silence.  Quiet is the sound of people paying attention and listening actively.  But there are still rustling papers, people still shift in their seats, adjust their clothes or just uncross and recross their legs.

And then there’s silence.  It overtakes the room, covers it up, stills the air.  It is a presence so real that you can’t help but hear and feel it if you’re paying just a bit of attention.  It is stillness.  It is people leaning in.  It is people actually holding their breath.

I’ve started paying attention to when this moment happens, and it seems to me that it is the moment that a speaker steps towards real truths.  This truth can come in the form of honesty, in the form of openness and in the form of vulnerability.  It can be stark or honest.  It is always unadorned and there’s never any showmanship.

This kind of silence doesn’t last long – 30 seconds maybe, because people can’t hold their breath forever.  But if you start to notice it you can start to see what it really takes to get people to listen with their whole bodies.  Truth.

Your truths

Ten years after its founding, Google wrote down and shared Ten things we know to be true.

Seems like a great thing for any young organization to codify after a decade.

Also seems like a good thing for a person to think about and understand.

Career paths are getting more serpentine.  Big companies are done employing us for a lifetime.  The most interesting jobs aren’t the ones we heard about when we were kids (doctor, lawyer, fireman), and they’re certainly not at the companies who came on to campus to recruit.

When whole industries are being created and are changing and are being destroyed right before our eyes, the concept of “In 15 years I want to be a _________” is anachronistic.

But if you can assemble your truths you have something.

If you understand the things that are irrevocably true for you – true at the core, not trite answers to interview questions – then you’ll have to worry a lot less about who you want to be when you grow up.

Give it a try: “I know that I ______________ “