Truthfulness is the source of all virtues

July 17th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

One day, a man who was committing all sorts of sins decided to start leading a virtuous life. This proved difficult as he kept going back to his old sinful ways. So he went to a wise man for advice on how to change his habits to live a decent life. The wise man advised him to do just one thing: to be truthful. He promised to follow this one advice and report back soon. A few days later, he wanted to drink wine. As he filled his glass, he began to think about what he would tell the wise man if he asked him. Because he promised to tell the truth and he did not want to tell the wise man that he was drinking, he decided not to drink and gave up drinking altogether. Shortly after, he wanted to commit another sin, but remembering his promise and not wanting to tell the wise man about this sin, he decided not to do it and quit doing it for good. This continued every time he wanted to commit a sin. After a while, he stopped committing all the sins he used to do. Truthfulness led him to a virtuous life.

Telling the truth isn’t always easy. Sometimes telling the truth can bring unpleasant consequences in the short term. However, telling a lie under these circumstances usually has far-reaching consequences, too often of greater severity than if we simply spoke the truth up front and accepted the consequences, as unpleasant as they might be.

As leaders, how do we create an atmosphere, at home or at work, where people are encouraged to be truthful?

The following recommendations are self-evident but they are worth mentioning:

Be truthful with yourself

We can’t be truthful to others if we are not truthful to ourselves. Being truthful to oneself is recognizing our mistakes, shortcomings or limitations. Hiding our weaknesses that have a negative impact on our organization or those around us is deceitful. We need to demonstrate courage by admitting our mistakes and taking appropriate action to remedy them. The truth may make us uncomfortable at first, but later it will set us free.

Be truthful with those around you

Like all other organizational values, truthfulness has to be modeled by the leaders. If the leaders do not always speak the truth, the followers will most likely do the same. Do you, as a leader, have the courage to speak the truth under all circumstances?

Truthfulness is about speaking the full truth. A partial truth can sometimes be more misleading than a non-truth. For example, a person who reports on a situation by giving facts but avoids mentioning one or two key elements of the story may lead the listener to draw the wrong conclusion. This is not different from lying.

Embrace truthfulness as an organizational core value

Does your organization always insist on being truthful in all its dealings? Does the marketing material present the products without any exaggerations?  Do you tell prospective clients about any negative sides that you products or services might have? Do you reward the members of your organization for being truthful even if it is against the interest of the organization?

If you are a businessperson and you deal truthfully with your client, your client will love and respect you for being honest and truthful with them and will do more business with you. Moreover, Allah will reward you in this life by blessing your business and will elevate you to the highest ranks in the Hereafter. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The truthful merchant [is rewarded by being ranked] on the Day of Resurrection with prophets, veracious souls, martyrs and pious people” (Tirmidhi).

Listen to those around you

We will not know the full truth if we do not truly listen to those around us. Would they give us their honest opinions if asked? If not, this may be an indication of lack of trust. In this case, truthfulness may not be a true value in our organization. Find out the reasons why and address the situation.All religions and moral codes consider truthfulness as a basic component of integrity. The difficulty is practicing it under all circumstance. I pray that The Almighty helps us to be truthful.“To be persuasive we must be believable;

to be believable we must be credible;

to be credible we must be truthful.”

Edward R. Murrow


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