According to Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach, there are two things we can’t look at directly: the sun, and the truth. Without clouds or filters, both can be incredibly painful to look at directly. With one, we’ll actually go blind.
So how do we know what’s happening with the sun or the truth if we can’t look directly at them?
On clear days, the sun casts shadows. Outlines of what’s between it and a point on the ground.
On clear days, the truth casts shadows in exactly the same manner; outlines of what’s between it and a point in the future.
Neither the sun or truth have ulterior motives. They simply cast light into darkness.
So why is it we celebrate the sunshine yet do our best to cloud the truth?
Looking Directly at the Truth
We will truly go blind if we look directly at the sun. But no form of science has ever proven we’ll truly go blind by looking directly at the truth. Our fear of blindness from staring directly into the truth is fake. It simply won’t happen.
That’s not to say the truth isn’t excruciatingly painful to look at. But what’s the impact of avoiding that stare?
Hiding the Truth by Clouding It Over
Here are several ways I see leadership teams creating overcast skies:
- Refusing to delegate, then complaining about how busy they are
- Burying or avoiding issues that may drive up emotion
- Using anger to manage situations or others
- Avoiding firing or moving the wrong people out of their organizations
- Giving problem employees unlimited “chances” to change
- Measuring historical data that justifies versus leading indicator data that demands behavior change
- Avoiding investing time to clearly document, train on, measure, and adjust core processes
- Saying “yes” then refusing to be accountable to a promise
Clear Skies Ahead
So how do we move out from under our clouds?
One of the first things is simply to do the opposite of what we’ve been doing. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? Take the first bullet from above: if I just delegated one thing from my plate this week and asked you to keep me accountable for not complaining, I’d move my business forward. Do that for every bullet.
Second, make a choice between investing the energy it takes to manifest clouds versus just dealing with the bright truth. The level of energy required to create and maintain each of the bullets above is unfathomable. The truth is powerful and painful at times, but it illuminates the best path to the future.