Honesty Over Harmony

By January 13, 2017 No Comments
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“What’s wrong with today’s kids?”

“Back in the day, we never would have acted like that.”

“Kids today are so spoiled and entitled, it’s disgusting.”


Ever heard those phrases before?

What about these?


“What do you think, does this look good on me?”

“Do you like this color?”

“So, how do you like my new haircut?”

“It’s okay if I eat these fries and cookies, right?” “I mean, we’ll do Pilates tomorrow.”

“What do you want to eat tonight?”


If you’ve heard these before, you know there’s no easy or right answer. In fact, the person asking the question doesn’t even want your actual thoughts, they just want you to agree so they feel good about their decision.

Am I wrong?

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Good kids today are no different from the good kids in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The difference lies with the parents. Good kids turn into bad kids when parents let harmony take the place of honesty. Parents let kids get away with more than they should just so they can feel good and avoid a discussion.

Honesty takes work, and harmony is easy. In fact, most problems at home, at school, at work, and on teams are a result of harmony taking place of honesty. If we want a life of happiness and success for ourselves, our children, our friends, our students, and our athletes we must choose honesty over harmony. 

We can’t avoid the people and messages that don’t make us feel good. And this is the trap a lot of parents fall into. They don’t want to feel bad and they don’t their children to feel bad. So instead of having difficult conversations about what they should do, and what the correct path to take is, people simply let others do as they please even though they know it’s the wrong thing to do.

Good kids and successful adults come from homes where parents value honesty over harmony.

“Think small. Work hard. Get good.” ~Coach Wooden

On sports teams and in the corporate world details matter. Little things make big things happen. The most successful people and teams know this to be true. You don’t come in one day and complete one huge task to make it big. It’s small fundamental things done well over a period of time.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs directs his team in a huddle during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The best teams value honesty over harmony. They don’t accept the status quo. Team members love each other and challenge each other to be their best. They understand there are no shortcuts. Having an honest culture is tough, but the rewards are awesome and last a lifetime.

True excellence comes from the mastery of details, and cannot come at the expense of the team’s balance and harmony. Leaders must not lose sight of the big picture because of a small incident, issue, or problem.

Coach Wooden once told a story on how a coach compiled research and believed shooting a great free throw percentage was the best indicator for a team’s success. So this coach had his players spend a tremendous amount practice shooting free throws. Now, they were great free throw shooters, but they struggled to get to the line. They couldn’t run the floor, and they couldn’t defend.

The point is, small things matter but we must keep things in perspective. The team’s balance cannot be compromised to preserve the coach’s feelings. An assistant coach or team captain should’ve met with the coach and discussed how “sound” this philosophy was. Shooting a high free-throw percentage is obviously great, but it doesn’t mean anything if it’s the only thing you can do well. Harmony overran honesty here. 

Great leaders don’t allow people to “just get by.” They challenge them. They push others to excel and reach new heights.

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If we really love someone we hold them accountable. We don’t enable them. When we see the big picture and what someone or the group is capable of (even when they don’t see it), we challenge them. We don’t let feelings get in the way of growth.

Don’t leave things to chance just to have and save harmony. Stand for what is right. Don’t go with the crowd just because it feels right and it will keep everyone happy.

Remember, greatness is a bunch small things done well over a sustained period of time. Only in a culture where honesty is valued over harmony is this possible.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!


Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.