I was recently reading a book that talked about a case study of certain company that didn't just last for a few years but is a company that succeeds throughout those years as well.
Bridgewater Associates has somehow become a legend in their industry. They are one of those companies that was founded before the world financial crisis back in 2008 but has survived and persisted through it. When asked what the secret of this company was that have persisted and succeeded, Ray Dalio says that one of the key things he has emphasized in his company from the founding, until today was to not let loyalty stand in the way of truth and openness.
Hearing his advice triggered some memories. Looking back, I've been working with my dad for a little more than 4 years now, and I've been asked about how it was to be a daughter working with a tireless, seemingly indomitable figure like my dad, and how I was able to help grow our small, almost brand-new company in our industry. I've realized, through this one statement given by Ray Dalio, how big of an influence the way my father was as a leader to me. His influence was not limited to work, but in the family as well. Growing up, this was one of the things that prevailed in our family culture. It's a thing that was carried over to our company culture as well, and that one thing is the pursuit of truth.
Loyalty is good. It's a good glue that can hold a team together and form a solid foundation of culture, allowing the team to grow solid and able to go through whatever trials that goes our way (and we've encountered many). But one thing that I've always repeated time and time again was how much I valued truth. Opinions are not unwelcome, suggestions are encouraged, and conflicts are not actively avoided -- as long as they are conflicts on ideas, of course. Respect is at the forefront of truth, and that is one thing we foster as a company. Something we try to give, not just to our clients and superiors, but also to our peers as well.
Now why do we value truth so much in our company? What are the benefits that we can get from putting ourselves out there with our ideas, unfettered but vulnerable to criticisms by our peers?
Well... Here are some "benefits" one can find in the value and pursuit of truth:
1. With the number of changes, and not to mention the amount of work we need to churn out every day... The number of information each of us could take and remember is just enough for the tasks we have on our table daily. Adding, subtracting, or making up information that we need to keep track of when we lie will be too much to handle. As Mark Twain wisely said this "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
2. Creativity and innovation are two things that are encouraged in most companies, but as much as we want this to be achieved, this cannot be done and pursued without the crucial factor of having people be open to ideas, no matter how weird or impossible those ideas may be. And the autonomy of ideas cannot be achieved, if the priority of openness and truth is not pursued.
3. And last but not the least, the pursuit of truth allows people the chance to remove the masks they have over their identities. A mask made by their own defenses, formed from their own fear of rejection. It allows the team the opportunity to be a cohesive group. Identity and purpose are one of the things that people search for in their work, and both cannot be found without the pursuit of truth. Without having the fear of expressing one's true self, a person gives their peers a chance to accept and truly get to know them for who they truly are, freeing them from the burdens of pretension and giving them footholds to contribute and to try and discover just how far they can go with their ideas.
These are just 3 but important things a person can find fostered in their own organizations with the pursuit of truth, and it's not easy to achieve. It is not easy, but it is not impossible either. All it takes is for one leader to start this trend, and repetitively foster and encourage their team to do the same.
I am reminded of a statement that was made in the Bible, a statement that now carries more weight of this realization of truth and made by a person who now becomes more important and significant in a world that's being populated by fake news. There are 4 major pursuits people usually have in life; those four are identity, purpose, destiny and morality. And the four is found in one person of truth, a person who had known all along the true value of pursuing truth. As Jesus of the Bible says, "If you know me and you are my disciple, then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".
May we all actively search for the truth and find it.