Recently we had the missionaries over to our home for dinner and the sisters shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon in a way I had not considered previously.
Helaman 6:21 But behold, Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings.
22 And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band, who had taken this covenant.
I have read this chapter numerous times and focused on the fact that people become wicked after they had prospered. That they allow pride and foolish pursuits to destroy their faith. The sister taught us a different lesson that her mother had taught her in her teenage years. Once when she had come home late her mother was there waiting with her scriptures to talk. After having her daughter read these aloud and asking her to explain what she understood them to mean she explained. We see that things done in secret can lead us to evil, if we know it is wrong and we are hiding it because of this knowledge we are on the wrong path. She taught her daughter that for her own protection she should communicate and not keep secrets from her mother. This wise counsel can be applied in all of our lives.
When we are worried that someone may see something we are doing or find something we have done wrong. Let us have the strengthen and courage to correct what is not right so we do not live in fear. These feelings teach us that we are not doing as we should and give us the opportunity to humble ourselves before we are compelled to be humble.
It is important in leadership that we are not causing our direct reports to keep secrets from us because of our reactions and responses. We must communicate fully the purpose of what we do and not assume others will just understand.
I am looking for a new manager on my team and one person was only able to interview on a Saturday. I came to the office and interviewed her with another department head and had invited others to attend if available. Well, the floor staff overheard (incorrectly) our conversations as we toured the facility. The phones started ringing, one employee calls another saying her job in in jeopardy because they are having secret interviews.
Isn’t it interesting how the mind will play tricks on us and our insecurities can lead to our own demise. Let’s clean out our closets and learn to avoid evil. If we fear getting caught let’s use that as motivation to do the right thing instead. We all can learn to communicate better, especially as leaders. We are not a mysterious as we sometimes believe and the openness and honesty we give others we can then expect to receive.
As we work on being better, communicating and not keeping secrets I suggest we also do not judge a person until we have all of the facts. I see too often when information is delivered we immediately judge the person as guilty before we ever investigate the conversation or action. Our expectations lead us to our own reality at times and unfortunately it may not be to right reality. We can learn to overcome this common error by not labeling people before we learn the facts. If you or you hear your team labeling others it is a sign of judgement and should be addressed immediately. Let us all assume there is not malicious intent and give people the benefit of the doubt as we investigate any issue. We may per policy have to suspend while investigating but even then we need an open mind clear of prejudgment. I know I would want the same if I had to be investigate.
In closing, not all secrets are bad. The Lord tells us to pray in secret and he will reward us openly. The difference is why we are keeping it secret. What are we hiding? Judgement needs to be reserved for the end of an investigation and even at that point, we are judging the action not the person. As my favorite quote goes, “failure is an event it is not a person, yesterday really did end last night, today is a brand new day in it is ours to use in a marvelously productive way.” – Zig Ziglar