Next Level Honesty

On December 31, 2018, in Dr. Todd Dewett, Editorial Advisory Board, by Dr. Todd Dewett


“Next level honesty is grappling with a reality that we often initially resist due to our fear of tension or conflict.” –Dr. Todd Dewett

by Dr. Todd Dewett


Most individuals do not reach their potential. One key explanation is lack of self-awareness. So much time is spent trying to teach professionals how to obtain self-awareness.  Interestingly, what is missing from the discussion is what to do after obtaining increased self-awareness.  Typically, people don’t like to look in the mirror, so they turn their head.  For the brave who decide to look, here is a bit of progressive advice.  I call it next level honesty.

Next level honesty is grappling with a reality that we often initially resist due to our fear of tension or conflict.  For example, Zappos pays new employees $1,000 to quit after the first week if they are not loving the job and honestly committed.  Instead of allowing them to stay on indefinitely with only modest commitment while sucking up resources, they bribe them to leave.  That’s next level honesty.

I challenge you to follow this example and find an individual version of next level honesty.  I’ll give you one suggestion to get started:  your resume. The standard resume is often a pile of embellishments and half-truths.

My first bit of advice: stick to the facts and tell it straight.  Next, strive to stand out not by distorting reality, but by taking honesty to the next level.  Think about every interview you have ever endured.  In each one you talked about things on your resume.  Then what?  Predictably, you talked about things that are not on your resume.  The most common example:  instances of failure or the experience of conflict.  You have never completed an interview without addressing these issues.  Why then, don’t you step up to the plate and own this reality?  Add another section to your resume:  Lessons Learned!

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Don’t wait for the interviewer to ask those sometimes uncomfortable “off resume” questions.  Supply them with the answers on your resume.  In the “Lessons Learned” section you can list and explain the tasks, projects, or roles you have encountered in the past that resulted in great learning moments. Remember that teammate with whom you butted heads so often – Phil?  Don’t list him by name, but he goes on the list.  After his name, put “positive relationships at work are vital, but sometimes you have to learn to work with folks you don’t like.”  Then be willing and able to talk about Phil and how working with him made you a stronger professional.

Here is a good one that goes on my resume from one of my college internships:   “Jimmy Dean Foods:  learn how to say no / manage your time or it will manage you.”  During the course of the internship, my supervisor suggested that I needed to work on fewer projects at one time to ensure the quality of each effort.  It was great advice.  I was overly swamped, it was my fault, and I need to learn how to focus and sometimes say “no.”  I owe her big time.  Understanding how to aggressively manage your time is a strategic skill for any professional and I am grateful to have learned that lesson so early.

So think about two to four examples you might include in the Lessons Learned section of your resume.

Then, think about other possible personal targets for your next level honesty.  Is it something you decide to share with your boss about a project?  How much you will disclose to the candidates you interview for spots on your team?  I promise that when you approach next level honesty with positivity and obviously needed prudence, it will make you more real and approachable to those around you.  Take the risk.

Welcome to the next level.



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