Friday, August 09, 2019

"Keep All the Pieces of Your Soul"

Psalm 73.15-17 WEB
A Psalm of Asaph

If I had said, ‘I will speak thus;’
Behold, I would have betrayed the
generation of your children.
When I tried to understand this,
It was too painful for me;
Until I entered God's sanctuary,
And considered their latter end.”

I felt lucky to view a live presentation by Carly Fiorina who served as Hewlett-Packard’s president and chief executive officer from 1998-2005. The interview was conducted by pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago and broadcast live across North America to about sixty-five thousand registrants of the 2007 Willow Creek Leadership Summit.
I learned Carly Fiorina navigated one of the world’s largest and most revered technology companies through a severe industry downturn. She successfully orchestrated the historic acquisition of Compaq in an HP-Compaq merger. Fortune magazine named her the “most powerful woman in business” in its first annual ranking of women who most influence corporate America. (Oprah Winfrey was ranked #2.) [1]

In early February 2005, Hewlett Packard and Carly Fiorina parted company. Here’s what Bob Wayman representing the Board of Directors wrote to all HP Employees on that day…

“The HP Board of Directors announced this morning that Carly Fiorina has stepped down as Chairman and CEO, effective immediately.

“On behalf of the Board and the management team, I want to thank Carly for all she has contributed to HP. In her six years as CEO, Carly has revitalized the company. She had a strategic vision that has given HP the capabilities to compete and win. Through her leadership and vision, HP has laid a solid foundation for success in the marketplace.”

Carly was known for making tough choices during hard times. Here’s her take on what happened that day…

“Patti [Dunn, the new Chairman of the Board] had asked for my help in ‘positioning’ the shocking news. She said the Board thought I should announce this as my decision. I should say I’d decided it was ‘time to move on.’ I believe the truth is always the best answer, whatever the consequences. Less than two hours after I left the room, I sent a message to the new chairman saying we should tell the truth: the Board had fired me.”[2]

Ms. Fiorina was asked by the HP board to say something that made sense. The official” version of the story allowed both the company and its former CEO to move forward with the more dignity and less trauma. It would give the media minimal fodder to gossip with. Saying it was Carly Fiorina’s decision to ‘pursue other interests’ would reduce controversy and make a smoother transition for both parties. Carly was tempted to place this ‘spin’ on the occurrence which would most certainly be in the best interest of the Board of Directors and keep favorable light on Carly herself. 

There was just one small problem… it wasn’t true.

I assume Carly wrestled with the Board’s request in the moments following her ‘departure.’ Nevertheless, she quickly made the same decision Asaph did as recorded in Psalm 73…

“If I had said, ‘I will speak thus;’
Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
When I tried to understand this, It was too painful for me;
Until I entered God's sanctuary, and considered their latter end.”

It is not always easy to tell the truth. Truth-telling can be “painful” and hazardous to one’s sense of well-being. But still, it’s the truth. If you cave and say something different than truth, avoid telling important elements of the truth, or find creative ways to ‘spin’ the truth, you’ve “betrayed” those who are depending on your integrity.

People watching and depending on you, perhaps more than you realize. You are one of them. You are watching yourself. When you lie you betray yourself, you give away a piece of your soul. Pay the price. Preserve your integrity. Tell the truth no matter what the cost.

Ms. Fiorina’s ends her book Tough Choices with words that inspire me...

“Life isn’t always fair, and I was playing in the big leagues, yet I realized I had no regrets. I had completed my mandate. I had made mistakes, but I had made a difference. I had given everything I had to a company and a cause I believed in. I had to make tough choices, and I could live with their consequences. While I grieved for the people and the purpose I had lost, I did not grieve for the loss of my soul.”[3]

Jesus said, “...the truth will make you free” (John 8.32). When you lie (even a little) you betray yourself and others. You can always find good and logical reasons to lie, but when you do, you lose a piece of yourself. Pay the price. Be set free. Keep all the pieces of your soul intact. Save your life. Tell the truth no matter what the cost.

[1] Julie Creswell and Dina Bass. "Ranking The 50 Most Powerful Women: Fortune's First Annual Look at the Women Who Most Influence Corporate America," Fortune, October 12, 1998.

[2] Tough Choices – A Memoir, Carly Fiorina, Portfolio published by The Penguin Group, p.303.

[3] Ibid., p. 306.

No comments: