I think we all appreciate a little honesty. And while there are probably plenty of good reasons to tell white lies, there are moments in life when we shouldn’t short-change ourselves the chance to ‘get real.’
So what makes me, a 24-year-old, the authority on this topic? Aside from honesty having always been one very strong trait of mine, working at Reebok for two years has brought me an entirely new perspective. Believe it or not, the food industry pushed me to write this blog post. At Reebok’s Headquarters, we’re in the midst of a eight-week nutrition challenge which asks employees to avoid consuming added sugar.
SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING
I began this sugar-free challenge knowing that it wouldn’t be easy, but I figured that as long as I steered clear of known sweets like chocolate and cereal it would be smooth sailing once my sweet tooth quieted down. I was wrong – sugar is in everything. Salad dressings, taco seasoning, yogurt, bread, ketchup… the list goes on and on.
And if you’re wondering ‘what’s the big deal?’ I’ve got news for you: according to Dr. Robert Lustic, author of Fat Chance, “in 2011, there were 366 million diabetics in the world – more than double the number in 1980.” If you want a deeper look into these issues, give the documentary Fed Up a watch.
Reading ingredient labels at the grocery store has become my new hobby… as other shoppers crash into my cart in the canned food aisle, I stop and struggle to find foods that aren’t loaded with some form of sugar. To make shopping even more difficult, the industry disguises sugar with any one of 60 names for the bad stuff.
Sweet tooth vs sweet truth
Now that I’ve caught you up on this problem, I’ll bet you’re feeling a bit betrayed. All the added effort I’ve made in the last few weeks towards bettering myself has fueled my desire for honesty – wouldn’t things be easier if they weren’t (literally, in this case) sugar-coated? Why can’t nutrition labels be easier to navigate? Why has so much sugar made it into our foods in the first place? While these are questions for another time, this overly-sweet food for thought led to a more general craving for the truth.
“I’ve since become hyper-aware of my own actions towards others and how I can control my own rhetoric to promote transparency.”
There’s a lot being said in the professional world about the words people (especially women) use and how those words impact perceptions… take for example a former Google Exec’s opinion on using the word ‘just’ too much, and then the subsequent rebuttal. As I monitored my own language to see how I measured up, something clicked. My personal downfall isn’t overuse of a single word… rather, it was a fear of not being able to answer questions asked of me. In many situations, I tend to make a guess and then add on ‘I’m not positive about that, though – I’m sorry.’ But despite the pressure we might feel to know the answers to all of the questions we are asked, it’s impossible to know everything… and that’s ok.
Know what you don’t know
So, where am I going with this? My appreciation for transparency in all interactions, paired with this desire to make other people’s lives easier, made me realize that I need to learn to say ‘I don’t know.’ That’s not something that I need to be sorry for – rather, it empowers me to go out and find the answer.
The words ‘I don’t know’ are known as the ‘Three Hardest Words in the English Language’ by the authors of Freakonomics. This topic was discussed at length in a podcast they recorded in 2014. “Until you can admit what you don’t know, it’s virtually impossible to learn what you need to,” says Stephen Dubner.
“In the end, saying ‘I don’t know’ signals a willingness to learn and improve upon ourselves while also opening up the possibility of exploring for the truth.”
Plus, speaking with conviction in any context is bound to exude confidence and foster trust.