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True or false: Being truthful pays off

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If you’re in the habit of glossing over problems to help things run smoothly, check out these cases of how telling the hard truth paid off:

Case 1: When the Los Angeles education office discovered that 84 percent of the people in its welfare-to-work program never came back the second day, officials knew they needed a more motivational orientation program, so they requested proposals for a $730,00 contract.

Jack Canfield knew his team could do the job, but he had misgivings about the contract specifications. Nonetheless, he and his team worked for months on a bid.

Called in as one of three finalists, Canfield remembers standing in front of the county offices wondering aloud if he really wanted the contract.

“The way they want it structured can’t possibly give them the results they want,” he told his partner. “I think we should tell them the truth.”

Afraid that the officials would feel criticized and reject his bid, Canfield nevertheless told the truth. To Canfield’s surprise, the officials said that he was the only one who understood the situation. They hired Canfield because he told the truth.

Case 2: Marilyn Tam was division manager for a clothing retailer in 1986 when Nike CEO Phil Knight approached her to spearhead Nike’s foray into concept stores.

But while checking out stores that carried Nike apparel, Tam discovered that Nike was slapping its label on stock clothing without any attempt to unify its size, quality or color.

Tam feared that if she told Knight, she wouldn’t land the job. Two hours into the job interview, Tam bit the bullet and told Knight the truth. Abruptly, Knight ended the interview.

But two weeks later, Knight called Tam to say he’d reconsidered. Tam got the job … and NikeTown was born.

— Adapted from The Success Principles, Jack Canfield, HarperResource.

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