4 min read

I Want The Truth

I Want The Truth
All credit to Castle Rock Entertainment. Another movie I haven't technically seen. Memes though.

Truth...is a funny thing.

So says Savathûn anyway, one of the antagonists from the Destiny franchise and the self-proclaimed Queen of Lies. A trustworthy source of information if ever there was one.

Video game logic aside, the truth really is a funny thing. It can be hard to locate in the first place and is then often painful when found. Yet many people go out of their way to uncover and expose it, often at great personal cost.

I've used the following quote frequently over the years:

If the truth can destroy something, it deserves to be destroyed

Its a good quote, punchy and simple. I mean what sort of person is against the truth? Liars, that's who.

But the truth of any matter is often nuanced and complicated.

Did You Order This Quote?

Ironically, that quote is often misattributed to Carl Sagan. Thanks to the magic of the internet, it looks like it actually originated from the novel Seekers Mask by Patricia C. Hodgell.

In its original form, it sounded like this:

That which can be destroyed by the truth should be

That version of the quote is a bit more pleasing to the ear I think, though a little harder to parse because the language used is a bit more complicated.

I've never read Seekers Mask, nor did I think the quote was attributed to Carl Sagan in the first place, so I have no idea where I picked it up. I seriously doubt I came up with it on my own in a weird display of cosmic synchronicity, so I probably just picked it up off the internet.

But I like it all the same.

It implies that there is some fundamental rightness in the truth. That its ability to destroy is a positive thing, and that we are better off for the destruction.

Funnily enough, discovering the truth about the source of the quote didn't really destroy anything, I just felt better informed than I did before. Clearly the truth doesn't always destroy, and making that assumption is dangerous.

Origins aside, the more interesting thing is what the quote actually means to me.

I Run My Unit How I Run My Unit

I honestly believe that if you're playing the long game and actually care about everyone involved, telling the whole truth is the best idea. Especially in the workplace.

I feel like when it comes to the application of truth and challenging situations, people often make assumptions about how people will react and then use those assumptions to make meaningful decisions. Like withholding information about impending redundancies because it might cause a panic, or not fessing up about there being no money for salary adjustments.

It stinks of fear and a lack of trust and that doesn't seem fair to me.

So when I reflect on the quote and what it means to me, its a justification for telling the truth, even with the knowledge that it might make things more difficult or challenging in the short term. Sure, people might react poorly to whatever you have to say, but maybe they won't? Maybe they will surprise you and be awesome.

And if they react poorly, maybe its better to know that straight away rather than later on.

I Consider Myself In Contempt

Of course, I can't write a blog post without reflecting on the reality of the situation.

As much as I would like to think that I am consistent and disciplined about exposing the truth, regardless of the cost, I'm not.

Professionally, if I'm told to keep something a secret, I will. Well, mostly. I'll use my own personal judgement to decide whether or not keeping said information to myself benefits the few or the many, but most of the time I'll do as I'm told.

And that makes me something of a hypocrite.

In my personal life, I find it hard to be open and honest with those close to me. Ostensibly because I think I'm protecting them, but I'm probably just protecting myself. Its harder when you have more skin in the game.

So, double hypocrite.

But I do reflect on the quote and the ideal often and try to push myself as much as I can to speak the truth, to share whatever I can and let people come to their own conclusions.

To trust that in the long run, its the better approach.

I Hope I Can Handle The Truth

So, that is my rant about the truth and the telling thereof.

Since starting at Atlassian, I've pushed myself to be open and honest about anything and everything, both personally and professionally.

One of the core values at Atlassian is "Open Company, No Bullshit" and it really is a value that almost everyone seems to hold true. When you're in an environment like that, it becomes much easier to hold yourself accountable to the ideal, because you feel supported and can see other people holding themselves to the same standard.

In turn, that has rolled forward into my personal life, and so far, nothing has exploded violently. Well, not catastrophically anyway.

In fact, when you're open and honest about how you're feeling, it actually builds trust and empathy.

Turns out, you don't actually need to protect everyone all the time.

Which is a relief.