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  • Writer's pictureGary Roth

Bad News Doesn't Get Better With Time

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

James Clear is by far one of my favorite authors. His book, "Atomic Habits", opened my mind to personal development in a way that I had never seen before. Not only does he present a life changing theory, but he also expands on each aspect in a very practical way. When I say practical, I mean to say that he gives you action steps that you can follow immediately.

I subscribe to his e-mail newsletter, and I would suggest you do the same. Each week he gives new thoughts in an easily digestible format. One of my favorite parts of his e-mail newsletter is the three ideas from him. Each little quote touches on different areas of personal development and yet each one is incredibly powerful. In this week's e-mail, he pointed to something that I have been supporting for many years. Here it is:

"Many problems are minor when you solve them right away but grow into an enormous conflict when you let them linger. As a rule of thumb, fix it now."

Even though I don't say it like this, I firmly believe in the idea. I was always taught that bad news does not get better with time, so there's no need to hang on to something for fear of reprisal. If you have something go wrong, and it needs to be reported, don't sit on it! Instead, just gather your spinal cord and deliver the bad news quickly and efficiently. It's possible that you might lose your job, go to jail, or any number of bad things, but things will only get worse if you try to hide it.

Owning up to something instead of being caught is 10 times better than the alternative. I know it feels uncomfortable, and I know you probably feel completely terrified at this moment. However, I say it again, it's always better to get out in front of bad situations. Just as money draws interest when you leave it in the bank, your bad news will only draw more power the longer you sit on it. People will think you are trying to hide something if you don't come out with it right away.

In many cases it might just be a quick error or mistake. In these cases, when you admit your mistake, you will likely learn from it and you will also build trust within your organization. This works inside of professional organizations, family, sports teams, and any other gathering of people that you are a part of. Trust and integrity starts with transparency, so do your part by showing the people around you how you can be trustworthy even when no one is looking.

Doing the right thing in advance will help you build a strong reputation. Even if you have problems with lying in the past, you can turn things around right now. Of course, I'm not telling you to go and tell the world all of your secrets, but what I am offering is the opportunity for you to turn your life around. Make a commitment to yourself that you will never lie, and you will always tell the truth aggressively. Another quote from one of my favorite movies goes something like this:

“Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath.

If you have seen this movie, you know at the end of the oath you get a big smack to the face so that you remember it. There are many times I wish that I could slap myself in the face in order to keep my word a little bit stronger than I have in the past. At the same time, I fully recognize my own ability to change my reputation in the world. I can, and often do, get out in front of a negative situation as quickly and as clearly as I possibly can. It doesn't always solve every single problem, but I can tell you I am much further ahead than I would have been otherwise. I have personally developed a reputation of transparency and integrity that allows me to operate much more efficiently.

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