Do you know the difference between temporary truth and real truth?
Today we are experiencing a great deal of conflict because many people feel if they believe something, it is true. So you believe that there are only 325 days in the year, everyone deserves an education, that all old people are stupid – that these are truths.
Have you ever disagreed with a spouse, employee, or customer? Let me describe the conversation. You tried to convince them that they were wrong and you were right. They tried to convince you that they were right and you were wrong. How am I doing?
The problem is that truth evolves. I’m not implying that Temporary Truth is right or wrong, just that a lot of stuff is only true until their replacement truth shows up.
Here is one example. For hundreds of years if you had an illness, first they cut you open and let you bleed till you were cured – the old ‘truth’ about medicine.
Next in the history of medical treatment – they gave you pills. Then these were followed by radiation, chemotherapy, and other invasive treatments. Keep going – Next, they sent you to a therapist. For years people believed that the current treatments were the best or even only treatment available. But, over time each one was replaced by a new and supposedly better one – now the new Temporary Truth.
Real truth doesn’t change.
Here’s a simple one – for hundreds of years people believed the world was flat – the temporary truth and based on what – current beliefs grounded not in facts but rumors. Then – someone discovered that – wow, the world isn’t flat so it must be round – an updated version of current perceived truth that everyone now embraced.
What is temporary truth – anything that is changing, evolving, growing, fading, or is in the past or the future. What is real truth – is gravity the truth? Consequences are truth. Death is the truth.
Let’s be clear – opinions are not truth or reality. I’ll wager if you asked 50 million people in the US what was their opinion about (whatever – pick a topic) you would get at least 25 million different answers. So, just because something is your opinion based on your experience, your education, your personality your (stuff) it’s still only your opinion. You have a right to it but here’s the interesting thing – I have a right to my opinion on the same topic (even if it is different than yours).
There is a great deal of discord in the world today and why? Because most people believe their opinion is or should be the truth (everyone’s truth) – what is right and what the rest of us should believe just because you believe it. If this concept were true; the world is still flat, we never went to the Moon, the average lifespan in the US is 35 years and God is a myth – need I go on?
Truth is not the truth because you or I believe it or think it should be true. Truth is grounded in facts and evidence and not opinions – hear me please – FACTS. If there are no facts to back anything up – it’s just an opinion.
Ever screamed at the TV as you listened to the rantings of some political Idiot? Ever felt the stress of a relationship that was filled with tension or frustration? I could go on with examples like these, but the question is – is there a common cause or contributor to all or each of these life situations, struggles, or outcomes?
One of my favorite questions I ask people when they start telling me (something) is true. Ready – “How do you know that? What true evidence or facts is this based on?” Try it the next time someone gives you their opinion on something and tries to convince you they are right and you are wrong. It’s really fun.
I have had more than my share of people come up to me after one of my speeches or seminars sharing their disagreements and/or opinions of what I talked about and how they felt I was wrong or just plain out of touch – especially when it was anything related to technology. I’m not kidding here – my opinion, no matter what it was, was wrong. I wonder if the Fax machine will ever be obsolete? Over the years I have spent a great deal of time and research trying to identify what the unique circumstances were that contributed to these types of reactions, responses, or behaviors when dealing with others whether in person or at a distance. I finally figured it out.
The single biggest issue that contributes to poor communication, increased conflict, negative relationships, ineffective employee performance, declining health, bad decisions, lost business, ineffective management, and declining organization success (need I go on?) – is simple but not complicated. In a phrase, it is “reality or truth” and not what was true but what people wanted you to believe was true. When you deal in truth you have a better percentage of better outcomes than when you deal in Temporary truths or lies.
Let me explain. Everyone has opinions, values, attitudes, prejudices, and beliefs that are grounded in personal experience, upbringing, conditioning, and education. When blended into a person’s mindsets these create their personal sense of reality; what is, what is right, what is wrong, what needs to change etc. The problem gets even worse when people begin to believe that their sense of reality (the previous stuff and more) is THE “reality” in other words – all other views, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, etc. that disagree with are wrong, outdated, stupid, unnecessary or invalid because they are different than theirs or challenge theirs.
Imagine for a minute the last conflict you had with an employee, spouse, or customer – I will guarantee its source was the attempt by both of you to validate your own opinion(s) and invalidate the other person’s. Due to current trends in Political Correctness, Social Media, The Selfie Generation we are very rapidly losing the ability to develop meaningful relationships grounded in respectful acceptance of different opinions, values, beliefs etc. – both business and personal – that are grounded in openness, understanding, tolerance, and respect.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, there are a few things we all need to understand if we are going to deal in truth going forward and in no particular order they are; fear, the need for control, the desire for approval, arrogance, insecurity, denial, criticism avoidance, acceptance, assumptions, uncertainty and change, the ripple effect, manipulation and yes so many more. Let me just give you a brief overview of each as I’m sure you have other things to do.
But before I do – a quick real-life example from my past. Many years ago I spent the holidays with the family of a client and a friend. One night we had a conversation and he asked me, “Tim, what do you think about reincarnation?” My answer, “I don’t know much, I just know I don’t believe in that hocus pocus.” His response, “How can you have such a strong opinion about something you don’t know anything about?” I have never forgotten that conversation and never will.
Fear – Fear is the most powerful emotion in life. And when we let others use it with lies or lack of truth we give them power over us until the fear leaves us.
The hundredth monkey effect – This concept says that once an idea, rumor, concept, invention hits critical mass it is now spread quickly as truth regardless of its validity.
The need for control – Many people today will say or do anything that gives them perceived control or power. The problem is that if their actions are not grounded in truth eventually they will fail and lose this power or control. Just look at global dictators over the years who have disappeared.
The need or desire for approval or acceptance – Many people today want to be liked and respected and want friends and connections who will “friend, like, support” them. Let me ask you how many connections do you have on Facebook or Linkedin that you don’t know at all but call them friends?
Arrogance and ego – People who are driven by ego and arrogance will often do or say anything that helps them maintain their reputation (no matter how dishonest it may be), control, or ability to influence others. Just look at many politicians today.
Insecurity – If people feel insecure they will often say anything to help them manage their insecurity.
Denial – Denial is simple – it refuses to accept reality, truth, or any situations, circumstances that are.
Criticism avoidance – Often people will avoid the truth, endorse untruths, or just stay quiet for fear of losing their job, career, a relationship, or even their health or safety.
Assumptions – Assumptions are risky or ignorant. When someone tells you something and you don’t question it you give them power over your ideas, actions, beliefs, values, etc.
Uncertainty and change – When life is uncertain or changing people fear the future they want reassurance or support that all will be well. This is why many people use fear as a technique to control others. If they can keep you in fear mode – they can control you. Lies work – and why? Because we let them and don’t have the courage to challenge them.
The ripple effect – the ripple effect is like an ocean wave. Ideas, lies, misrepresentations, etc. continue by the simple rule of endurance.
Manipulation – People will often use their version of the truth to keep others in circumstances that they can control. Just look at certain countries today that have populations that are under siege and there seems to be nothing they can do to change them short of a revolution.
So, what current truths do you believe that are impacting your life or choices and decisions and how do you define truth?