The Spin Box

Posted by Steve C on September 25, 2009 under The Blog | Be the First to Comment

On my first trip overseas some twenty years ago, I faced a dilemma at the Frankfurt airport. I was connecting from Berlin on the way to the UK, and my luggage did not show up on the carousel. I had to retrieve it from the Berlin flight and then re-check it for the UK leg. What a bad time for my bags to get lost – in a massive airport where a different language was spoken. Needless to say, I was a bit unsettled.

As I walked over to the customer service desk of the German airline on which I had arrived, I was trying to recall how to say “my luggage is lost” in German. I knew the phrase was something like, “mein gepack ist verloren,” but what would happen when the agent started asking me more questions about it “auf Deutsch.”

But something remarkable happened. She took my passport and before I uttered one word, she said to me, “how may I help you” in flawless English. I was comforted and relieved to hear my language spoken.

Although there are many languages around the world, I have learned that there is a single language of leadership – and that language is called the Truth. It is not spin, deception or cloaked truth, it is the pure and simple truth (which I believe Oscar Wilde once said is seldom pure or simple). This language seems to be forgotten more and more these days, and it is causing confusion, uncertainty, even anger.

Here is a recent example. In Ohio, voters will be able to vote on a casino issue in the upcoming election. Like all issues, this has its supporters and opponents. The Cincinnati Enquirer recently published side by side pleas from each side as a means of clarifying the issues. The opponents stated in black and white – passage of this issue will prevent churches from offering Monte Carlo nights or other related fund raisers. They also clearly stated that the casinos would be exempt from paying state income taxes on cash transactions. The supporters, in black and white, said just the opposite.

My questions as a voter – what is the truth? Passage either will or will not make church functions illegal, or will require a tax on all income or not. What is the truth?

Personally, I am sick of all the manipulative, deceiving messages put forth by so called public leaders today. You only need to hear the words health care and you get the point.

There seems to be a communications box today that preaches the only way of influencing others, is to do whatever you can to get your point across in the way you want it heard. So, if you leave important points out, remove meaningful context, or simply spin the message in remarkable, yet deceiving ways, no problem! Well, it is a problem and everyone knows it. Who designed that rulebook? And why do so many people subscribe to it?

So leaders, you must be willing to break free from the spin box and tell the truth. Although Jack Nicholson’s character Colonel Jessep might believe that “you can’t handle the truth,” the best leaders believe you can. And speaking the truth is the only way the real problems can ever be solved in the best way for the common good.


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