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Crew Coach: Lies stem from fear; face it and tell the truth

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Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

For anyone who’s been paying attention to politics in the United States lately, there’s a whole gamut of feelings and emotions flying around. There is talk about untruths or “alternative facts” but I would rather get real here and talk about lying. I will stay out of the political noise here but all the recent talk about lack of truth made me think about how damaging lying is in our personal and work lives.

Has lying ever entered your work life? I think for many of us it has, if we’ve been in the working world long enough. Working together on a yacht crew or in an office, warehouse or marina, we are part of a team, and that team needs trust to operate at its best. When we work alongside someone who we’re not sure is truthful or we can fully trust, there is a breakdown. There is a rip in the mainsail of our ship and it will probably get worse if not addressed.

A problem with lying is serious and can often lead to a person’s dismissal. If it’s so bad, why do people lie?

Research has found that two of the main reasons people lie are fear and manipulation. This is experimented with and learned early on in our lives. A child will lie out of fear of consequences. That is not considered abnormal, but the lesson must be taught about truth and lying. Hopefully, the issue is nipped in the bud.

However, if someone gets away with lying and it develops a pattern — a habit — into young adulthood, now it becomes problematic. Many bad habits can cause us problems, and a lying habit must be broken. The fear must be removed from the thought of going with the truth.

The best way I can recommend to accomplish this is to start practicing living from truth. When an occasion arises where in the past a lie may have been the reaction, make a conscious decision to go the other way. Go with the truth and see what happens.

What one finds is the results are not the horrible scenarios we’ve played in our head. Rather, the issue is faced, dealt with and passed, with no lingering thoughts about the lie and whether one will get caught and found out.

The manipulation component to lying can really do some damage. Think about it. When someone lies to us to get us to do something or feel something, most often we are more upset about the manipulation than actually what the lie was about.

At the same time, we also need to understand no one feels good in a lying situation. The person lying never feels good; they just haven’t learned from experience that the truth feels much better.

A leader of a crew or team can make it clear in dealing with this issue by stating that mistakes, even a fairly major one, can be learned from and corrected. What won’t be tolerated is lying and deception.

Is it just human nature? Well, little white lies and the experimental lies of a child, perhaps. But a lying habit fed over years is not healthy natural behavior. It has been around for all of recorded time, though. Check out this quote I came across from Lucius Seneca, a Roman philosopher: “No one can be happy who has been thrust outside the pale truth. And there are two ways that one can be removed from this realm: by lying, or being lied to.”

We want truth. We desire to live in a home of truth. When we are “thrust” out of it, we can begin to feel the vulnerability of homelessness, uncertainty and discomfort. Doesn’t sound good, does it? The truth is important, and it never does the damage of lies.

I think we all innately know the truth is the better way, but maybe the habit of lying has taken hold. Just remember: It is a habit and can be broken.

There is a lot to be said for living authentically and comfortable in one’s own skin. Sometimes it takes a while to get there in life but when we do get there and know it, we feel free, confident, and released from the shackles of deception. Like the old saying tells us, the truth shall set you free. Indeed.

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (www.yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome below.

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