When I was young my father's advice was, "Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut."
That served him very well as he soon worked his way to the top of a Fortune 500 company.
Even as a CEO, he never gave interviews, never had his picture taken, never spoke to financial papers or magazines. He just got up before the crack of dawn to go to work and came home after the kids were in bed.
That philosophy wreaked havoc on me as a child. I felt like I could never speak out againt fraud, injustice, dishonesty or anything because I had to keep my mouth shut.
Soon, it became too much to bear. I can't remember the year but I think it was my early twenties and I decided enough was enough. I began to voice everything out loud. This included talking to myself, not realizing others in public were listening to me.
If it came into my mind, it came out of my mouth. I'm positive it's because of those words my father repeated quite often to me and my brothers as we were growing up.
My oldest brother, a physicist, is very methodical and deliberate about what he says and when he says it. My youngest brother, a brilliant computer programmer and investor is an expert at selecting just the right words that don't offend anyone.
Me however, I say it like I see it and sometimes I see it wrong. To be honest, I see it correctly most of the time but people don't want to hear about it.
The thing about honesty is that it can hurt. Let me give you a recent example.
I have a fifth grade student who wrote a book report for me at school. However, after reading it I said to myself, under my breath, "Who should I give the "A" to? You or your mom?"
It was too late at that point. Insert foot in mouth.
I was right of course. After a private discussion with the student, I discovered his mother had written his report. And she was furious! Not because of the comment I had made but because of the next comment.
"This isn't a fifth grader's work. This reads more like an eigth grade book report."
I then uploaded the book report into a software program I have and it verified the reading level at eigth grade the report a 78%.
So if a fifth grader had written that report, it would have earned an A but if an eighth grader had written it, it would have recieved a C+.
So the parent was pissed that I caught her red-handed doing her son's work and was even more pissed that her best effort only registered at a middle school level.
There's a lesson here for everyone involved. For me it is to keep my mouth shut which we all know I can't do. But I'll try.
For parents the lesson is teachers know when you are doing your kid's work. So stop. You aren't doing your kids any favors.
And for dishonest people the lesson is honest hurts. The more on point someone is concerning their assesment about you, the more it hurts if it's a trait you don't admire.