The Power of the small “t” truth


I was raised to respect authority, almost to a fault, and my Dad spoke most of the Truth in our family.   I was a senior executive in a large organization for 14 years and there was much Truth spoken with great belief and force.  I am intentionally using a capital T because to me it designates an opinion or belief that is spoken with strong conviction, yet is rarely open for other opinions, input or honest dialogue.   Capital “T” Truth can stifle innovation and collaboration with a single sentence.

In the Four-Fold Way, Angeles Arrien developed four principles to provide clarity for thriving in today’s complex world of constant change.1 Her third principle is:

Tell the truth without blame or judgment. To me, this is the foundation in small “t” truth telling.

My personal goal is to speak my truth, with a small “t“. This is my truth that lets my voice and opinion be heard and is open to learning from others. I am curious about the truth of others and this opens up possibilities that may have eluded me on my own.

I am struck with a memory from my earliest days at the executive table.    The agenda included a big business decision that was to be made by the CEO.  Did we continue with a project in which we had invested millions of dollars, stop it, or pause to redesign and begin again?  After the requisite power point presentation, which of course included reams of charts and analysis, he thoughtfully went around the table asking each of us to weigh in and cast our vote.   I was one of two dissenting votes and it took all of my courage to articulately speak my truth.   I remember this so clearly because of this CEO’s impact on our team and he was genuinely interested in our truths, not just his own.  I was heard, my voice was important and had meaning, as he gathered all the input he could from his team.

How might you need to show up so your truth can be heard?  

What might you need to be curious about to understand and learn your team’s truth?

1Four Fold Way Principles from Angeles Arrien
1.  Show up, or choose to be present
2.  Pay attention to what has heart and meaning
3.  Tell the truth without blame or judgment
4.  Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome

Posted by Debra Bowles | Managing Principal