“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”

—Thomas Sowell

Let’s imagine truth and flattery as two doors. The first door, stark and sturdy, is truth. The second, ornate and beguiling, is flattery.

Helping people is the act of opening the first door. It’s standing beside them as they step into a room bathed in the stark light of truth. It’s a no-nonsense zone, where facts roam free, unfiltered and uncompromising. This room isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the courageous who walk in, walk out stronger, better, wiser.

Helping yourself, on the other hand, is often about swinging open the second door. This room is a dance of words, a lullaby of pleasing sentences where wants are whispered as truths. Here, reality bends to the heart’s desires, delivering comforting illusions. It’s an attractive room, one that delivers instant gratification and maintains harmony. However, it often leads to growth stagnation, a world built on shaky foundations.

To grow, we need to knock on the door of truth more often than the door of flattery. It might be a challenging route, but it carves us into sturdy beings, capable of withstanding the harshest winds of reality. Flattery, while alluring, often builds houses of cards, prone to the smallest breeze.

Truth or flattery. The choice is ours, and it shapes us, and those we interact with, in profound ways. Choose wisely.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.