There I was, the first time I was allowed to drive anywhere but school or work and I hit a parked car. Yes, that’s story is true. My parents, or shall I say my father, allowed me to take my 1969 Chevy Nova to a High School Football game. After the game I simply turned too much and hit the side of the car next to me.
There I was, panicked and frightened. The car I hit was a beautiful Barracuda. I damaged the side pretty good. What should I do? No one was around yet, as my friends and I left before the game was over.
I can honestly say I never hesitated. I did not even consider leaving the area, or even just leaving a note. My father instilled a sense of responsibility. He was a stern man and a former drill instructor. My father was the toughest man I knew up until the day he passed away.
Yes, I stayed in place in the parking lot and waited for the driver. It was embarrassing as other students came by and made comments. Some I knew, and others I did not.
Then here he came, the other driver. I forget his name but he was one of our popular well-built athletes of our school. Certainly he was angry. But my reply was, “I felt it was important to stay and wait for you.” Although angry, he understood.
Then the big moment came. I had to drive home and wake my father. I remember going to his bedroom door. Quietly I knock. “Dad, are you awake?” I was truly afraid. But when I look back at it now, it was never really that bad. I just simply told the bad news as soon as possible.
I have no regrets with this belief. I had other accidents or instances of bad news growing up, like when I broke the neighbors’ window by accident. Yes I ran at first, but I came home quickly and told the truth. This is because, no matter what, bad news will always come out. It gets worse when it finally comes out and it’s determined that you knew about it.
Thomas Henderson teaches that the true test of character is if you do the right thing when nobody’s looking. It’s easy to do the right thing when you are being watched.
True leaders understand that bad news does not get better with time. When faced with this dilemma, they live their principle. It is automatic. This is what we teach in leadership training. College Market Institute Leadership Academy calls it a moment of truth.
As a leader we must walk by example, but also instill this in our leaders. We must appreciate when others live and demonstrate this principle, no matter what the news is we are hearing. As we build this culture we can become aware of problems sooner and respond in a timely fashion.
What will you do in your moment of truth?