Be Uncommonly Honest

Author: John O'Leary

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner

“If you don’t have anything nice to say…..”

We know how to finish this sentence, don’t we?

We’ve been taught by our parents, family members, coaches and teachers this mantra from a young age: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Any word or conversation that might be hurtful, divisive or unkind should remain unsaid.

And yet, today there seems to be no shortage of people who never received this advice. Examples are easily found in the conversations had by panels on television, political leaders in front of cameras or online contributors in your social feeds. The tone is so often ripe with pessimism, negativity and opinions shared with clenched fists.

At times it almost feels there must be a (false!) belief that in saying something negative about others, we somehow benefit ourselves.

Kim Scott’s life’s work is to help us see that this is not wise and, that the opposite – what she calls “ruinous empathy” or being nice to a literal fault – is not effective either. Her book Radical Candor came out last week and in it she shares the four categories of communication, and how to balance your communication to ensure progress, mutual understanding and collective growth… All of which cannot be had with ruinous empathy or undue negativity.

Kim has worked with and learned from unusual and significant leaders including expert diamond cutters in Russia and Steve Jobs at Apple. She’s also learned what is most effective in communicating with others so that they can do their best work and so their team can best meet their collective goal.

We spent time together on my recent Live Inspired Podcast episode discussing flaws within common communication styles, how they are impacting relationships and teams and most important: Solutions to improve them. (Listen here to Kim’s story and learn simple strategies to connect more effectively.)

Kim Scott refers to the most effective way to manage, lead and connect with others as “radical candor.”

Practicing radical candor includes being uncommonly honest while coming from a place of great love and respect. When practiced, it reminds us to keep the conversation about idea, not ego. It creates an environment where disagreement is encouraged, because in expressing ourselves and truly listening to others express themselves, we are able to find real truth.

It’s been said that truth without love is brutality, but that love without truth is hypocrisy. Using radical candor provides us the ability to care personally and challenge directly in order to encourage those around us to achieve extraordinary results.

Our opportunity as inspired leaders is to never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice, lying and greed. If we do this, we will change the world. Starting with our own.

I challenge you today to be uncommonly honest and come from a place of great love and respect.

This is your day. Live Inspired.


This was originally posted on When John O’Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching 50,000+ people around the world each year how to live inspired. John’s first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016 and was an instant #1 National Bestseller. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.

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