A Word to the Greedy: Be Honest
In the New York Times, entrepreneur Rebekah Campbell notes “The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies.” As an angel investor named Peter tells her, “The secret to success in business and in life is to never, ever, ever tell a lie.”
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, this was one of the key points Yaron Brook and I make in our book Free Market Revolution, and which I discuss in detail in
a recent article on Bernie Madoff in The American. Despite the widespread belief that we can get ahead through dishonesty, long-term success in life and in business requires an unbending commitment to reality. When you engage in dishonesty, you make reality your enemy.
In effect, the dishonest person creates a fantasy world where the facts are the way he’d prefer them to be. But that fantasy world is a fantasy. In reality, inventing more pleasant facts prevents the dishonest person from dealing with the actual facts. It’s a game you cannot win, a point ably made by Campbell’s column.
Peter maintains that telling lies is the No. 1 reason entrepreneurs fail. Not because telling lies makes you a bad person but because the act of lying plucks you from the present, preventing you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.
You know the right path to take and choose another, and in so doing you lose control of the situation. Now, rather than tackling the problem head on, you have to manage the fallout from the lie.