By Barbara Schwarck, PCC, MPIA

Can honesty be used to move your goals forward and perhaps make you a more effective leader? Yes, no, maybe; what are your thoughts about that? These days honesty has become the buzzword for creating trust in teams as well as in entire organizations. Management gurus like Jack Welsh believe it is the most important quality to establish trust in a team. We demand that people are honest with us. We want our leaders to be honest, our employees to speak the truth, and we want our friends to tell us the truth when nobody else will or would. As most emotions, honesty has two sides. It can be expressed with others as well as with oneself. Today I would like to take a look at how being honest with oneself can either hinder you or support you in your endeavors.

Honesty with oneself has always been a challenging subject. We are masters at lying to ourselves. When we don’t want to do something, we come up with reasons for not doing the task that make no sense. When we want to buy something that we don’t need, we can rationalize about the need for it. And sometimes when challenging things happen, we like to “lie” to ourselves and avoid responsibility and play the victim. If that is the case, are we even capable of being honest with ourselves or are we dependant on the emotional or limbic part of the brain that flashes either “go” or “stop” depending on the situation that we are dealing with?

Neuroscientists have been trying to answer this question for years and, while much research shows that the limbic part or not-so-conscious part of the brain has a lot to do with our ability to being honest, we are going to first look at the conscious part of the brain called the neo-cortex to answer the questions. To get started, let’s take a closer look or shall I say honest look at our motivations, intentions and wants.

What do you want: a new job, a better economy, more friends, a stronger team? And, why do you want the things you want? Take a moment to reflect, please, because when our wants are based on what nourishes our core being and intentions, we experience clarity and a sense of purpose and power. We experience “truth”. When wants are based on ego, concerns like ‘looking good’ to others, or on fulfilling some ‘should’ or ‘have to,’ the actions that spring from those concerns will gum up the works and we lie to yourself.

Think about the last time you felt everything just clicked. You were in sync and could do no wrong. You were in the zone and nothing could stop you. Now, remember what you were doing and why. What was your motivation or your intention? Was it something truly connected to your core being, purpose and want? Or, was it in some way clearing out old patterns that no longer served you? Invariably, you’ll find those moments of joyful consciousness, power and peace come from moving toward or within the core truth of who you are, what you’re here for, and who you are becoming.

Simply looking good or overvaluing an immediate pleasure can lead us away from the zone of personal power and clarity. The actions that break old patterns are often the hardest and cost the most. But in the end, these hard-won and difficult changes bring remarkable gifts and profound happiness because they represent the truth – the truth of who you are and who you can be.

Being honest with yourself about who you are and what you want will support you in every activity: as a leader at work, parent or friend. And being honest consistently and continuously will establish trust in all that you do.

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