#017 - Breaking News - is it really, or is it already broken? Is what you hear or read true, half true, or more like creative fiction? Join Dr. Charles Boyer as he explores the importance of truth for all new leaders who serve others.
Hello there! Welcome to Keys for New Leaders, a podcast just for you, my friend. This is your host, Dr. Charles Boyer, but my friends call me Charlie, and that sure is YOU, my friend. I hope you’ve enjoyed these podcasts as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing them to you. And, I’m so pleased to report that we’ve had more than 500 downloads of these episodes. Thank you so much!
As you may have noticed, I’ve not been podcasting as much here lately. I’ve been taking a little time this summer to stop and smell the coffee, spend time with my family, catch up on a few projects, start a few new ones and plan what comes next for these podcasts. I think you’ll enjoy some of the coming programs. I’m sure looking forward to putting them together for you. As usual, toward the end of this episode, I’ll ask you three open-ended questions that will help you focus and reflect on what we’ve talked about in this session.
So, here we go with Episode 17, called “Breaking News – Really?” “Breaking News” – every time I turn on the TV, there’s some talking head and a “Breaking News” banner across the screen, supposedly touting the latest news tidbit, as if this is happening right now. The trouble is, it’s usually the 4th or 5th time I’ve heard it. It’s not new, it’s old. And it isn’t breaking – it’s already broken. So, I wonder why we don’t call it what it really is: not “Breaking News” but “Broken Olds.” Well, I realize that news hounds need to be right on top of whatever the latest event is. It’s what they’re paid to do. However, this “Breaking News” bit is so overused that it has lost its meaning, and it’s all the harder to believe. What was once a clever gimmick to grab your attention soon wears out its welcome and becomes just another everyday annoyance. It’s almost like the old story of the boy who cried “Wolf!” When do you believe it, and when not?
The “Breaking News” – or is it “Broken Olds” – gimmick got me to thinking more about the advertising claims made about some products, as well as some things I read or hear reported as facts that really tend toward creative fiction. And I’m expected to believe it? Really? There’s an old expression about taking something “with a grain of salt,” meaning to be a little cautious about accepting something as true. Some things I’ve heard lately need to be taken with a whole block of salt!
All the outrageous claims made by some advertisers make me wonder if anyone is truthful anymore. The Federal Trade Commission works to hold companies accountable for false or misleading ads, and from what I have heard, there are plenty of them to choose from. I was surprised to learn that among companies the FTC has sued are Kellogg’s, Sears, Snapchat, and of all things, Gerber baby foods, for false claims ranging from disease prevention to weight loss to health benefits.
False or misleading stories in the news are especially harmful because of our tendency to believe what we hear reported or that we read in an article without checking to make sure it’s true. Some time ago, I ran across a description of a brainwashing technique that said, “…repeated hearing of any sound source eventually yields acceptance…” Let me repeat that: Repeated hearing of ANY sound source eventually yields acceptance. That says that if you hear a lie or outrageous claim repeated often enough, you’ll eventually accept it as true. Scary thought! But take a minute and think when that has happened to you – something you accepted as true and later found out it wasn’t true at all. How did that make you feel?
“Fake News,” a term that has been bandied about a lot in the past several years, can be destructive, not merely dishonest. Biased news that relies on opinion rather than fact can be just as damaging. More recently, several universities have developed guidelines or courses to help teach students how to identify fake news. You can also find many good articles on the Internet. We could all learn a lot from these lessons. But it takes some time and effort on all our parts, doesn’t it? And so many times, we just don’t take that time or effort to stop and say – Really? Is that true? Really?
Here are just a few examples of things to think about and questions to ask yourself if you think you’re being fed fake news:
· Stop and ask yourself – Really? Be critical. Check the source. Be wary of sensational news items or misleading headlines. Is anyone else reporting the story or making the claim?
· Don’t take images (photos and other media) for granted. Pictures and videos can be easily faked these days. Look carefully – and check the source.
· Ask yourself if it sounds right, if there are facts to support what is being claimed, or is it just someone’s opinion? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it sounds too bad, it probably isn’t.
There are many more examples we could include here. The point to remember is that we must all be careful of accepting as true what we hear or read. And we should ALL help stop the spread of false or misleading stories. Pass the salt, please.
By now, you may be wondering: how does this relate to YOU, the new leader? What does truth mean for a new leader? Quite simply, everything. Truth matters. If you’re a leader who serves others, truth is everything. Being truthful is a vital part of earning the trust of others. You must show – again, and again, and again - by your actions as well as your words that you are genuine, honest, and respectful of others. Oscar Wilde was quoted as saying, “The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.” He said a mouthful there!
Truth is not simple. And I have to ask myself if it is ever OK not to tell the truth. If your wife asks you, “Does this dress make me look fat?” – how you answer that is tricky, and if you’re not careful with your words, you could be in big trouble! What could you say that would be true without being hurtful? What about the medical field? There are some who argue that doctors should not be truthful with patients if there is bad news to convey. I can only speak for myself, but I would rather have the truth, even if it is painful to hear.
Brené Brown, author of “Dare to Lead,” wrote that feeding people half-truths or BS to make them (or you) feel good is unkind. I’d go a little further and say that it’s downright dishonest and can be hurtful.
Simon Sinek wrote about FEAR as being a barrier to truth. We FEAR getting into trouble by telling the truth. We FEAR being mocked. We FEAR about not fitting in. We FEAR of getting fired. And in the face of FEAR, we hide the truth.
And then I ran across this quote, attributed to Elvis, no less: “Truth is like the Sun. You can shut it out for awhile, but it ain’t goin’ away.”
Telling the truth is hard sometimes, but covering up untruths is so much, much harder. Truth brings people together. Fear and lying and hypocrisy tear them apart. You must be true to yourself and true to others. Simon Sinek wrote in “The Infinite Game” that we won’t get very far if we cannot be honest with one another and rely on one another for help during challenging times.
Truth is a MUST, especially for a new leader. You have lots to prove to others to gain their trust, and there is very little margin for error. The people you serve as leader need to know that your word is good and true. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, wrote: “Be impeccable with your word. Always.”
Rotary International, a service organization of more than one million members, has adopted four essentials that each member is expected to support. The first of these four is this: Is it the TRUTH?
Do you remember those Seven “C” values from a previous episode? You may want to review them by re-listening to Episode #3, called “Navigating the Seven Cs.” Those seven “C” values are: Credibility, Clarity, Confidence, Creativity, Courage, Calling, and Commitment. And TRUTH is at the heart of each of these values. Let me invite you to think about this:
· If you value Credibility, then Tell the Truth
· If you value Clarity, then Tell the Truth
· If you want Confidence, then Tell the Truth
· If you seek Creativity, then Tell the Truth
· If you need Courage, then Tell the Truth
· If you feel a Calling to serve others, then Tell the Truth
· If you have a Commitment to serve others, then Tell the Truth
You have a choice: Is what you’re saying the truth, only a partial truth, or creative fiction? Think about it.
My friend, this has been a difficult episode to put together, not because of the truth, but because of the lack of it in so many places and situations these days. I didn’t want this to turn into a harangue, but rather serve to raise some questions about what we value as true and how we can best serve others by being truthful ourselves. I hope this episode has been helpful to you.
And now, here are those three questions I promised you at the beginning of this episode. No, this is not a test, and there are no right or wrong answers, only answers that are true for you. Here they are:
1. When someone has told you something that you later found to be untrue, how did that make you feel?
2. What are three ways you can verify if something you heard or read is true?
3. What is one way you can help stop the spread of false or misleading stories?
And in previous episodes, I’ve included a Special Key as a little prompt to help you remember the topic and the episode. Well, there isn’t a Key of “R” that I know of, so let’s try a Special Word, and that is – REALLY? When you hear Breaking News, ask yourself – REALLY? Is it Breaking News, or Broken Olds? Think about it.
In the next episode, we’re going to talk about Feedback – both the giving and the receiving of feedback and how it can help you serve better as a leader.
Until then, take care, my friend, and stay safe and well.