Honesty

“If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.”

That’s Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the pilot episode, Mission to Far Point. The Enterprise was en route to a planetary outpost called Far Point Station on a seemingly routine visit.  The nefarious Q accosts them mid-flight and declares Far Point to be a test of their worthiness to exist.  If they fail, Q will destroy all of humanity.

When Q disappears from the bridge, a debate ensues as to what approach to the impending test they should take when they reach Far Point. Captain Picard ends the debate with the above quotation.  It’s an argument in favor of honesty.  And integrity.  Forget Q.  Just do our best, and let the chips fall where they may.

When I was a stage actor, one of the rules of auditioning was to just be what you are. Don’t try to out-guess directors as to what they want.  Trying to read their minds is never a winning proposition, so just don’t even try.

Let’s say they’re looking for a type other than you. Let’s say you guess right and act that way and get the job.  That’s a win, right?  Nope.  Do you honestly think you can maintain that false you, that lie, through four weeks of rehearsal and the entire run of the show?  Especially if you’re in a repertory company where the run can last most of a season as your show rotates with other productions over months?  The correct answer is no.

The same scenario applies to job interviews, which are another form of the acting audition. Don’t worry about what the interviewer wants, just put all of your focus into being you as best you can.  What do I mean by that?

As a corporate trainer, I always had to guide my actions when I was out travelling by the dictum that I was always “on.” I always had to be conscious of the fact that carelessness in word or deed could resound more than for other employees.  I was always me, but I was careful to not allow the appearance of impropriety at any point.  For example, go for a drink with students, but only one.  Tell jokes, but consider my audience.  You get the picture.

Polls. I suppose they have a place, but in elections I think they should be banned.  Why?  Because politicians use them to tell people what they want to hear instead of…wait for it…BE THEMSELVES! It’ll never happen, of course, but I’d like to see much shorter campaigns.  Maybe a couple months at the most.  Candidates get a few debates and news interviews where they have a chance to lay out their vision for the country, state, city, and how they propose to get us there.  No adjustments based on applause or polls.  The talking stops on the appointed day and voting is the very next day.  Period.

Let the networks and cable news outlets run movies of the week or news pieces on historical elections, if they can’t leave politics alone. That would be the most honest thing.  Wait till the reported voting results from each state reach the point of being mathematically irreversible, and then let us know who won and what passed.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” That from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  If you are honest to yourself you can’t help but be honest to your fellow man.

In my career I’ve run into a few characters whom others tried to warn me about before I met them. These characters were blunt to the point of abuse.  They weren’t an easy meeting the first time or two, but I learned to like and respect them.  You can’t deal with reality unless you see it clearly.  These gruff, barking dogs were also clear as glass, a window to reality…at least as they saw it.  Ultimately, because they were hard to misunderstand, I eventually enjoyed their company.  Not that I liked their frequent rudeness, but I always knew the score with them.

I’ve learned that nobody bats 1.000. Not everyone will like or agree with you and visa-versa.  Being honest does not mean that your life will go well all the time.  But you will find yourself with a greater serenity than if you choose to flail about looking for the most plausible lies.

Allow me to leave you with an elegant thought from Mother Theresa:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

What do you think?  Is honesty the best policy?  Is that a nice, tight single goal for 2016?  Just that one decision – honesty – can have a multitude of effects starting today, New Year’s.  Honest!

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