Is it More Important to Be Comfortable or Truthful?

I was in a business development seminar a while ago, when the facilitator said three words that smacked me in the face:




Now, I would not label myself as one who is typically conflict averse. But if I’m being honest with myself, there are definitely things I procrastinate, whether consciously or unconsciously, for example:


  • Getting started on big projects that I want to do, but find intimidating or overwhelming in their scope
  • Anything that requires learning some new technology
  • Starting any writing from a blank page
  • And yes, even the occasional conversation if there's enough potential for drama.


Sure, avoidance of anything can be counterproductive, even self-sabotaging, but selfish?


But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right.


If I want to build a new program because I believe it will allow me to train or coach even more people, but I delay creating it, I’m prioritizing my own comfort over my desire to serve others. That’s selfish.


If I delay learning some new technology that would help my business run more smoothly because “I’m too busy” (or I just dread the thought of having to learn it,) thereby potentially creating more legwork for my team, that’s selfish.


And if I put off having a feedback or accountability conversation with someone, I can tell myself it’s because “it’s not that important” or that I don’t want to upset them, but it just allows the problems to drag out. That’s selfish.


Now that’s not to say that I should just be tactless and blunt, under the guise of simply “telling the truth” or “calling it like I see it.” After all, the beauty and power of diplomacy is the ability to make a point without making an enemy, as Daniele Vare purportedly said.


But avoiding the issue overall prioritizes my own comfort over what I know is ultimately more important, and isn't in service of anyone other than myself. And that’s certainly not a hallmark of leadership.


Without using the judgmental labels like “selfish,” (no matter HOW apropos it might be,) in this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence, Dr. Bill Auxier, President and CEO of the Center for Rural Health Leadership, asks an equally powerful question:


“Is it more important to be comfortable, or to deliver the message?”


He actually asked himself that question as a way of overcoming his nerves when faced with a major public speaking opportunity. Regardless of the context, the question demands serious introspection.


Bill is also a renowned author, speaker, and teacher, and boy did he share some powerful stories that landed key lessons.



Want another one?


How’s this: What’s the ROI (return on investment) of always needing to be “right”?


Does your need to be right (and have the other person admit that they’re wrong) ever overshadow the bigger picture? When you win those battles, is the momentary catharsis of victory worth whatever fallout comes later?


Or how about this: Bill shares his definition of leadership and challenges us to come up with our own personal definition in one sentence or less. Talk about the need to cut the fluff and be crystal clear on what matters most!


Our conversation looked at these questions and more through the unique lens of the challenges in rural healthcare.


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on Youtube here.