Paul Butler | Truth at work

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile

Last week there was a conference I really wanted to attend but it sold out almost immediately.  The conference was titled: “Truth Matters,” which got me thinking about the concept of truth as it pertains to the workplace when we’re living in a world where some people claim there is no such construct as absolute truth. 

I wonder whether the conference sold out so quick because we so desperately need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….so help us! 

In a world where many people are asking the ultimate question: “What is truth?” our online aid, Google tells us: “Truth is most often used to mean: being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard.”  

I’m a simple guy from simple middle England who likes simple ways of expressing concepts and so I’d suggest truth is a principle.  What are principles? Well, they are universal; timeless; objective; they’re external to us and they exist with or without our permission.  Gravity is a natural law — a principle we find to be very true should we choose to jump off a building. 

Here are six timeless principles I’ve found to be true about the workplace and I’d go out on a limb and say they will always be… true: 

1. Be on time 

Woody Allen famously said, “90% of success is showing up,” and the only two words of truth I’d add to the words of Woody are “on time.” Being late or not doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it breaks trust with colleagues and customers. 

2. Don’t lie 

It’s a global phenomenon that people don’t like to be lied to and I don’t think it’s going out of fashion, either. Rather like being late, lying breaks trust and trust is the commodity that exists between people. Just like in the fable of the “boy who cried wolf,” it’s very difficult to get people to believe you when they’ve been lied to so much.  

3. Don’t steal 

I just finished reading a book about the Enron financial scandal of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The CEO Jeff Skilling (through his skillful and equally deceptive lawyers) managed to mitigate his prison sentence by several years on the basis of what his lawyers called: “Honest services fraud.” Did you catch that? Isn’t that an oxymoron to use the words “honest” and “fraud” in the same sentence? What Skilling claimed was that he didn’t steal directly from the business but rather he conducted fraudulent activities in the normal course of doing his job. Dude, in my book that’s still called “stealing” regardless of the double talk. 

4. Don’t gossip 

Employees think they’re building relationships with each other when they gossip about another, but nothing can be further from the truth. Construction workers call this “bad mud.” You think you’re building a relationship while bad-mouthing another but innately you know your fellow gossiper can’t be trusted because you fear they’d be quick to gossip about you to someone else. And guess what? They think the same about you! Truth. 

5. Work hard 

It’s a profound truth that if you work hard you tend to get good results. The principle behind this truth is the law of the harvest — we reap what we sow. Have you ever worked on a farm? Have you ever lived near a farm? Do you think a farmer would harvest if they didn’t sow? What about if they sowed but then flaked off all summer and did nothing until harvest? How would that work out? 

6. Treat others well 

Shock horror: “Knock me down with a feather,” is it me or have you found it to be true that if you treat people at work in a way you would like to be treated you tend to have a good working relationship with the other person? It’s the same of course in our personal life — after 28 years of marriage I have found this principle to be true. 

So, as theologians, philosophers and political personalities debate what truth is, we can rest assured there are truths we can live by within our workplaces and even within our homes. Now that’s the truth. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS