Truth and Consequences

Seeking truth is a key element of any successful human experience. My late, great friend and mentor Coach John Wooden was fond of saying, “We should know everything we can, but we don’t always have to say everything we know.”

Coach Wooden realized that there are times when the truth helps and others when the truth hurts. If we’re not careful, we can feed a vindictive nature under the guise of being truthful. Whether it’s feedback in a consumer situation or constructive criticism in a personal or professional setting, the motive behind the truth makes all the difference. Remember that many people who ask for your opinion really don’t want it.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We must never be afraid to tell the truth, but sometimes it is kinder to do it in fiction.”

As an author, speaker, and moviemaker, I realize that there are millions of people entitled to their own opinion of my work. I am left with the choice of how I want to deal with their opinions.

The great actor Brian Dennehy, whom I was honored to have play a major role in the film adaptation of my book The Ultimate Gift, told me, “I will start caring about what film critics say when they start hiring actors.” Brian realized that as long as movie producers and directors want to work with him, it really doesn’t matter what other people’s opinion is of his work.

Before you give anyone your opinion, make sure:

  1. They are really seeking your opinion and prepared to give it consideration.
  2. Your opinion is valid and meaningful to the situation.
  3. That you are giving your opinion with the intent of improving the situation, not criticizing someone else.

Before you accept anyone else’s criticism or opinion as truth, be sure:

  1. Their opinion is valid and can create improvement in your personal or professional life.
  2. The person giving their opinion has your best interest at heart.
  3. Determine whether this individual’s opinion is in the mainstream or whether it’s an isolated opinion.

Truth is powerful and can be a force for good, or it can devastate someone’s feelings and creativity. Remember, the thing you believe to be truth may just be your opinion.

As you go through your day today, endeavor to give and receive truth as a force for good.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by e-mail at; or on Facebook at

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