As a child, the idea that who you are is much more important than what you are was firmly imprinted on my brain. Thank you Mom and Dad, and others. This simple precept has been an enduring core value in my life. This idea places high value on being trustworthy, honest, and truthful. If one’s actions are truthful over and over again, over an extended period of time, one will develop genuine trusting relationships filled with respect. I would argue that such relationships are the key components of real happiness and terrific markers of a life well lived.

The quote, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything” has been attributed to Mark Twain. However, it is unlikely he said these exact words. It is more likely that he, and others at roughly the same time, used expressions that were similar in nature to the quote attributed to Twain. I think the follow up to the quote attributed to Twain is equally important. Lying takes more effort and brainpower than does telling the truth.

There are several other quotes I like that demonstrate the power and importance of being truthful:

  • “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” (Henry David Thoreau)
  • “Between whom there is hearty truth, there is love.” (Henry David Thoreau)
  • “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” (George Orwell)
  • “If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.” (Horace Mann)
  • “Stop hanging out with people that tell you what you want to hear. Hang out with people who tell you the truth.” (Eric Thomas)

The last quote from motivational speaker Eric Thomas reminds of the key point being made in the classic book, "Groupthink" by Irving Janis. The book highlighted the grave mistakes made by leaders when those around them were not free to speak up and offer critical feedback. As an educational leader, I want those around me to speak up and share their own thoughts and critical feedback. I strongly believe this is an important element in high quality decision-making, clarity, and building a foundation of trust.

Mike Redmond is the Superintendent of Shakopee Public Schools and author of the blog, Redmond’s Rules. Each blog post provides deeper meaning and more clarity to each of the 15 rules that make up Redmond’s Rules. To read recent posts, visit:


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