Can You Handle the Truth?

Published on February 1, 2011 by Annetta Wilson

In the movie “A Few Good Men”, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, Nicholson’s character delivers a line that has become famous.

Nicholson’s character, a hard-core soldier, is on the witness stand being questioned by Cruise’s character, a military lawyer.  When Cruise demands the truth from Nicholson, Nicholson replies with anger and venom, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Many of us can’t.

Most of us would rather be ‘right’ than get to the truth.  I’ve been there and I suspect you have, too.

How realistic is it to believe that you are engaged in provocative, powerful, productive communication and conversation if you’re not focused on getting to the truth?

If your primary goal is to always and only be ‘right’, you’re leaving a lot of valuable insight and learning on the table.  You’re leaving a lot of potential growth on the table.

If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  It’s true for nature.  It’s true for us.

Sometimes that growth can be painful.  Eventually, it is extremely beneficial.  It either helps us get rid of what isn’t working, allows us to modify what is working or inspires us to create something that works even better.

Tip: The next time you ‘need’ to be right, stop and ask yourself “What’s really true about this situation?”

Take a step back and observe the facts.

Look at who is participating in the conversation.  Why might they have that particular opinion or viewpoint?

Tip: Ask yourself (and perhaps the person you’re talking to) what would a win-win outcome look like?  You may find that collaboration produces a far more powerful result.

Granted, there may be some situations where you do have to make a decision without input. The process still works.  Question yourself.

Seek the truth first.  You won’t have to worry so much about the consequences later.

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