Always tell the truth – you don’t have to remember as much

An old friend named Mark used to have a daily updated greeting on his business phone, where he would include a quote with a life lesson. My personal favorite of his is the title of this post. “Always tell the truth – you don’t have to remember as much.”

As the truth is coming out about the horrible January 6 insurrection on the US capitol, there are a lot of uneasy folks who are having to explain things. These inconvenient truths are making people from legislators to opinion hosts to a former chief of staff to a former president squirm. Watching these folks do the backstroke is comically sad and not unexpected.

The truth matters. Or, at least it should. And, as Mark noted so clearly, when you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember as much. You don’t have to remember when and what you lied about. You don’t have to be hypocritical when your pattern of lying is discovered.

Whether it is politicians, churches, businesses, universities, sports organizations, etc., the failure to fess up and come clean from the outset is by far the worst way to handle things. When you know of something, tell people what happened and what you plan to do about it.

Richard Nixon got into most of his trouble covering up for the Watergate break-in. The Catholic church hid its pedophile priest problem for many decades and maybe longer. The University of Michigan has joined other major universities such as Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State for covering up sexual misconduct by a doctor or coach.

The sad lesson is by waiting to be discovered is not only the wrong thing to do, it is the most expensive thing to do. More people get hurt. And, it costs money via settlements, lost revenue and devalued brand identity. Plus, people who care about the truth will leave. Just this week, Chris Wallace, the most respected journalist at a certain network joined three others who left or had to leave the organization as they care about the truth.

The truth matters. The truthtellers matter. When the truthtellers leave or are vilified that is a bad sign for the entity. Your name is the most important asset you have.


21 thoughts on “Always tell the truth – you don’t have to remember as much

  1. Note to Readers: One of the sad truths that befell Mark, is someone in corporate made him cease doing his daily sayings. It caused less brighter days thereafter. He had been doing the sayings for years, but someone must have complained. Later Mark moved to another firm, not because of this, but it made me sad when he left. At least on his new work phone, he never repeated his sayings routine. Life is too short not to be yourself. As Oscar Wilde is alleged to have said “be yourself, as everyone else is taken.”

  2. Truth and politics… I don’t say it is a contradiction but unfortunately too often it is. We have another scandal like that going in Austria, where the chancellor stepped back and later left politics completely… a lot is waiting to be clarified by courts.

    • Erika, your first sentence speaks volumes. I will need to check out that scandal. We have been busy with our own here, with folks now getting in trouble over deceitful and seditious activities to abet a deceitful and seditious former president. Keith

      • I would say Mr. T and his companions caused a lot higher waves than hour boy-chancellor. Still, within 4 years we are having the 4th chancellor now. It is a shame that our government is not able to make it through one whole period with the same people on top.

      • Erika, it seems Mr. Kurz was paying for good press from the taxpayer dollars. Mr. T already had the conservative press in his pocket when Roger Ailes of Fox recruited him to run. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: Senator John Kyl, when caught in a lie by a reporter, famously said you mistakenly believed what I said as the truth. In other words, it is your fault I am lying.

    Per CNN, a damaging accusation was toward now Congressman Jim Jordan by six of his wrestlers at Ohio State. When Jordan denied being told by OSU wrestlers about the repeated fondling by an OSU athletic department physician, these wrestlers alleged Coach Jordan is lying about not being told, one even saying he admired the coach, but the coach is not being truthful. More athletes got harmed, which is what perturbs me. And, the same story was repeated at Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. People in positions of authority were told before it was uncovered and did not take action. And, more were harmed: men, women, boys and girls.

  4. Contemporary politics is a murky world – where the truth becomes distorted, twisted and re-told. The more they re-tell it, the more they believe it. Gobsmacked at Senator John Kyl’s comment you mentioned above. It is our fault that listeners mistakenly believed him. A dangerous sign that even when it hits him in the face, he doesn’t recognize what truth really is. This distortion of truth is a slippery slope for many and so it should be. When finally caught, it is messy, very messy and people get hurt in the process. I am heartened by the voices of whistleblowers and the likes of Chris Wallace who jump off the spin bandwagon for the sake of their own integrity and peace of mind. I hope it inspires more. Unfortunately, our incumbent Prime Minister missed that memo…

    • Amanda, thanks and so true. The lies they tell and retell have a circular nature to them when the opinion shows, then the news shows start reporting on them.

      Here is an easy lie that I hear too often and just heard Senator Graham use it when Chris Wallace (on his last Fox show) pointed out Graham’s hypocrisy on the US debt issue passing a tax bill that increased the debt by US$2 trillion. Graham responded “the tax cut paid for itself.” This is absolute BS. Per the Congressional Budget Office, over our history, the best a tax cut has done is to pay for about 20%. Paying for 1/5 of the cost comes from increased revenue due to higher GDP.

      In truth, Graham’s tax cut helped a pretty good economy be a little better for a little while before settling back down. And, it of course, increased the debt. Wallace rightfully called Graham on his BS, but I have heard others say this as well trying to convince themselves and us.


  5. This is where Conspiracy Theories fall down.
    Nothing as big as they claim would remain ‘hidden’.
    Aside from those who make serious investigation into the workings of governments and large organisations there are always those from within who out of fear or looking to make capital who will leak serious evidence.

      • Quite so Keith.
        This is the classic example as to why Conspiracies do not prevail.
        Had the make believe of causes behind assassination of The Kennedys or the 9/11 attacks been real these would have been blown open long ago instead of shared by a febrile community.

  6. Hi, Keith! First of all, Mark is brilliant. What a fun idea! Secondly, this makes you wonder what happened to “Honesty is the best policy”? How do people delude themselves into thinking they won’t eventually get caught? At least Bernie Madoff had the sense to turn himself in when he knew he was about to be caught (and potentially killed).

    • Betsy, thanks. Mark is great. Honesty is the best policy. Unfortunately, Madoff came to his conclusion late in the game after he was cornered. Ponzi schemes are destined to fail, which makes you wonder why people start these scams. Maybe Madoff and others like him thought they were smarter than others before him.

      • That’s gotta be it. Each schemer somehow thinks they will be different. Have you, by chance, read Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell? He had a good take on how these people get away with it for so long. An interesting read.

      • Betsy, I have read that book. Gladwell is a terrific writer blending story telling and research. That book turned a lot of misconceptions on their ears. I can’t remember if this was in Gladwell’s book or another source, but a financial person was asked by his boss how Madoff’s firm was getting those returns. He said it took him thirty minutes to know it was a scam and a morning to prove it. All these SEC attorneys who reviewed it did not know what to look for. Keith

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