Who can forget that famous exchange between Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) in the 1992 classic movie A Few Good Men? As Lt. Kaffee intensifies his barrage of questions to the smug Colonel on the witness stand, he finally shouts “I want the truth!” Without blinking an eye, Col. Jessup quickly retorts “You can’t handle the truth!”
All too often, that famous last statement is the legacy left by many in society today. Because the road of truthfulness can sometimes be hard to handle, many choose to take a different path that often leads to regret. Truthfulness simply means to make a habit of telling the truth. A person who demonstrates truthfulness is willing to tell the truth no matter what the cost.
The true test of truthfulness is how one responds when the stakes are high. At the risk of embarrassment, loss of job status, or even pending legal action, will a person tell the truth knowing the possible repercussions? How often have we heard politicians, athletes, actors and countless others in the limelight give their official statement, only to find out later they were not being truthful?
John Manning, author of the book The Disciplined Leader, wrote “Truthfulness is the golden thread that binds good lives, good relationships, and our very legacy.” Truthfulness is a place of authenticity that allows people to have meaningful lasting relationships built on the bond of their words.
Truthfulness goes to the very core of who we are, how we view life, how we view ourselves, and how we view others. Those who value their legacy are rarely willing to compromise their standard of truthfulness. Those who exhibit truthfulness have made a promise, not to others, but to themselves, to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It’s not always the easiest road to travel. However, if we are willing to risk popularity for what is proper, it will pay dividends for years to come.