Julie Mitchell's CoachNotes


Beware the shifting, slippery ground of “truth”


The older I get, the more I realize how little I know. I’m wary of people too confident about being right, certain of their “one and only” path to addressing complicated issues. I’m dismayed about political discourse and the apparent attachment so many citizens have to electing leaders who are unwilling or unable to speak truthfully about the slippery nature of “truth.”

Sometimes I’m reminded of what I believed several years ago, well into my adulthood, and I cringe. How could I have believed such a thing? (All too easily, I’m afraid.) Fortunately, my unshakeable resolve to learn from experiences has broadened my perspective.

I did not always welcome the eye-opening circumstances through which I was forced to confront “truths” I took for granted. It’s uncomfortable to be exposed, to fall flat into a falsehood, to get up again and to say “I was wrong.” This admission may be especially difficult for those born in privilege, as I was. I’m grateful for the mind-changing opportunities I’ve had. To paraphrase one of the most popular hymns ever written: I was blind, but now I see.When I witness uninformed entitlement among the privileged, I waver in my commitment to respectful communication. It’s difficult for me to feel compassion toward very fortunate people who show little empathy and refuse to acknowledge their many advantages. I want them to understand complexities, to see how the truth is not simple, nor is it always clear!

After over five decades of living, I’ve learned the value of “maybe.” I’ve come to appreciate a middle, provisional stance on people, politics and life. It’s helpful to listen, learn, wait and see before coming to judgment. One of the biggest obstacles to cooperation, collaboration and getting things done is when well-meaning people insist they have made up their minds and refuse further discussion. They come to the table with firmly entrenched ideas, when they may have only half the story.

It’s easy to travel familiar ground with others who look, think and assume as you do. It’s more difficult to muck around the path with “strangers” who have had very different experiences. You may trip over the roots of your ignorance or discover that your version of the truth is all wet!

Author: Julie Mitchell

Julie Mitchell is an executive coach, facilitator, professional speaker and senior consultant who can help you create more positive working relationships, improve your performance, and achieve goals through understanding and practicing effective communication on every level.

11 thoughts on “Beware the shifting, slippery ground of “truth”

  1. So true, O wise woman! Thanks for a brave posting about “truths” What we percieve as “right” may be absolutley “wrong”

    I also get very frustrated with the same old political words, lower taxes, cut waste, etc. with no substance about how a problem is actually going to be fixed. So, I have stopped listening. Not perhaps the best approach.


  2. Thanks, my friend. In my opinion, you are a wise woman, especially since you tend to agree with me! 😉

    I do understand about not wanting to listen to those same old political words.

  3. Julie
    I, likewise, have become less certain about many matters and much more open to possibilities. I fear those who do have certainty because it is often based upon a very narrow worldview. Keep the options open and do not fret about past beliefs. Knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.

  4. I do believe that there are some absolute truths in the universe, unfortunately many people who believe in those absolute truths forget about the absolute power of grace. Grace has saved me many times when I have discovered my truth was not as clear as I had once believed it to be.

    We are commanded to love, not to be right. 🙂

  5. Thank you, Julie! This is just what I needed today.

  6. Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments… it means a lot to me. Sometimes I fear that my “voice” makes no difference. It’s encouraging to know people are reading and engaging with me through this blog (it inspires me to risk sharing my vulnerability more, in this ‘public’ manner).

  7. Hi Julie,

    Miss you and glad you emailed this post. You and your readers may be interested in the following documentary, The Interrupters. It was on PBS Frontline and The Peace Alliance is asking for people to do home showings this month, which I’m doing. It’s about people who interrupt the cycle of violence and save lives and covers a year in Chicago of 3 main “Cease Fire” interrupters. You see the opposite of privilege and also a huge amount of courage. http://interrupters.kartemquin.com/

    Love you lots and your blog is great.
    Aunt Paula

  8. Thanks, Julie! Lots of wisdom here. Some of our elected representatives could benefit from your guidance as well!

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