In Jim Collin’s book, “Good to Great: why some companies make the leap…and others don’t”, there is a chapter titled, “Confront the Brutal Truth”.
Is it important to confront the truth? The Bible says that “The Truth will set you Free”. However, facing the truth is not easy. Why? Because The Truth can be Brutal! The human ego prefers to “sugar coat” the truth & believes that everything is ok when it’s not. Hence, since time memorial, no one dares to tell the emperor that he’s not wearing clothes — “The
Emperor’s New Clothes” lest he/she risks being beheaded.
It is precisely this failure to face the truth that leads individuals to live a life of mediocrity instead of a life of success and significance. The same failure to confront the truth also leads to empires & organisations crumbling & “disappearing” for good.
So, what can we do to tackle this problem of Failure to Confront the Brutal Truth at both the personal and the organisational levels?
i) The Personal Level
At the personal level, how well do we know ourselves? How prepared are we to know ourselves truthfully i.e. our strength & weakness? How often do we reflect & ask ourselves how we could improve ourselves? How we can leverage on our strength & ensure that our weakness do not trip us in our journey of life?
Or do we pretend that everything’s fine & there’s no need to take further action? Do we look at “The Man in the Mirror” squarely & truthfully? Is the mirror an accurate one or is it meant only to show us all the sweet & nice things about ourselves?
Assuming that we get past the stage of the “ego” to accurately see ourselves for who we truly are (Awareness 悟), do we take Massive Action Daily (Living the 3rd Habit of Discipline) to improve ourselves on a daily basis (Cultivation 修)?
Or do we Busy 忙 ourselves with many small things & therefore become Blind 盲 to our true self and what is important for our own growth, learning, purpose & happiness?
Interesting, the Ministry of Education recognises the importance of Self-awareness & Self-management and is aiming to equip our students with competencies in these domains under the framework of Social Emotional Learning
ii) The Organisational Level
At the organisational level, many do envisioning exercises and come up with many beautifully framed Vision & Mission Statements. Unfortunately, many of these are crafted with little or no awareness & understanding of the “ground” i.e. the organisation’s current reality (capacity of its people, their readiness to change etc) — i.e. the Brutal Truth. Hence, it is no surprise that despite many envisioning exercises & beautiful vision & mission statements, many of these organisations failed to achieve the success they envision.
Sometimes, organisations hide unpleasant results to their detriment. There are many examples of companies who have gone bust/extinct/bankrupt (The Boiled Frog Syndrome). One way to get round this is to confront organisation’s ego, strategically see the issues (are these issues situational or systemic?) & then do the necessary remedial action i.e. “correction point”.
In conclusion, our results 果 (be it at Personal or Organisational levels) are dependent on the following causes 因:
i) Our Ability to See/Understand the Truth (悟)
ii) Our Ability to Do/Take Massive Action to Correct/Improve (修)
iii) Our Ability to Finish Strong (修)
In short, the four Chinese Characters, 悟修因果.