Lesson of the Week

Honest: I am trustworthy

Honesty means more than acting with honorable intent and being free from deceit.  Honesty is the metal that holds up your life and your mission.  When honesty corrodes, so do you and the mission, until it tumbles down in failure.

Some of the greatest people in the world, and their missions have been totally destroyed by dishonesty.  The first signs of corrosion begin when the truth is not told or is used dishonorably.  Truth is the fact and honesty is the way the fact is used — your intention.  You can be dishonest by not telling the truth, or by telling the truth in a way that is intended to hurt and not heal.

Suppose you went to Shaw’s Garden, St. Louis, Missouri on May 29, 2006 and saw this Dale Chihuly sculpture suspended by wires attached to the coy pond bridge.  (See the photograph above.)

Let’s say you overheard the people around you talking.  Here are nine examples of what you might have heard.  The statements are followed by the motivation, truth, and intent of the comments.  Which are honest comments?  Which are not?

1. “The photo was quite hard to get, but I used my advanced photography skills to get the optimum scene.”
Motivation:  Fudge — Adjust or manipulate facts to present a desired picture
Truth:  The picture was taken with a simple point and shoot automatic camera.
Intention:  To impress you and misrepresent himself as being an expert

2. “I took this picture on a school trip but you weren’t in our class.”
  White lie — Trivial lie told to avoid hurting another’s feelings
Truth:  This is a lie.  There was no school trip.  They just didn’t want you to come.
Intention:  To keep you from knowing you were not invited to the gardens with them.

3. “A red alien is floating over the pond!”
Motivation:  Delusion — An impression that is contradicted by facts
Truth: The person next to you is mentally ill and is delusional.
Intention:  To warn of impending danger.

4.  “The gnarly work floats over the pond.”
  Illusion or fiction — Trick or fabrication
Truth:  A poet wants to tell you her impression of the sculpture.
Intention:  To give you another interpretation of what the exhibit means to her.

5.  “Whatever.”
Motivation:  Self preservation — A basic instinct to protect oneself from harm
Truth:  A partner acquiesces to her bully’s interpretation.
Intention:  To get her perpetrator to stop arguing and be quiet.

6.  “The artist’s name is Chinny.”
Motivation:  Mistake or ignorance — A judgment that is wrong or lacks the correct information.
Truth:  The artist’s name is Chihuly not Chinny.
Intention:  To educate you — albeit incorrectly.

7.  “It looks like your face.”
Motivation:  Sarcasm — The use of irony to mock contempt
Truth:  The sculpture looked like glass.
Intention:  To mock his friends and get them to leave the exhibit.

8.  “Mommy.  There’s a red monster.  I’m scared.”
Motivation:  Developmental stage — Period of growth
Truth:  The sculpture is not a monster.  The child doesn’t understand art.
Intention:  To get his mother’s attention and protection.

9.  “Yes, I helped to get this sculpture in the garden and financed the whole exhibit.”
Motivation:  Means to an end — A way of achieving an aim
Truth:  This person was not involved with the exhibit other than being a visitor.
Intention:  To impress you and get more power, influence, and money.

Honesty depends on the motivation, truth, and intention of the statement.  Start thinking about your statements and determine if they are straightforward honorable intentions that are free from deceit, healing rather than hurting others.  There is a secondary gain from being honest.  Not only will you be trustworthy, you will also better understand yourself and know how to best support your mission.


Honesty is the best policy.

- Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States, Polymath, Author, and Diplomat


Activity:  Make One Change

Materials:  Paper and pen or pencil

Time:  Ten minutes for writing and ten minutes for discussion per person


1. What is one way that you could be more honest?  Explain a specific situation that is ongoing and you do not feel you are being completely honest.

2.  Explain why you think you are not being completely honest.

3.  Explain how you could change to become more honest in this situation.

4.  Write a true story on what might have motivated you to be dishonest in this situation.

5.  Make a resolution to change and become honest in this situation.  How will your intention change?

6.  Discuss your answers with the rest of the people in the group.


I am honest so I can .... We'd like to hear your story about being honest. Write your story below.