Do you know what hurts more than bad news? Not getting it out right away.
I'll never forget when I was a kid just learning to drive. No sooner had I gotten my license then one fine day I slammed into my garage. And I mean slammed.
I took a huge chunk of the garage wall with me and I was petrified. If my father found out, surely he'd launch me into orbit.
So, I tried to patch up the wall. I even painted over it, just so that he wouldn't find out.
Well, let me cut to the chase. I must have been a lousy painter because he did find out. And he was upset — very upset. But I'll never forget what he was telling me as he was launching me into orbit: "Neil, I'm not angry because of the garage wall. I'm angry because you were hiding it from me."
There's a lesson there.
It's called 'fessing up. No matter how bad the news.
Ever since this Enron mess exploded, we're getting scores of companies now suddenly reporting nasty things in their books.
Not because they volunteered to, but more often than not, because they had to.
Computer Associates says, oh yeah, we had to tap a credit line.
J.P. Morgan says, oh yeah, we had this limited partnership.
And networking gear maker CIENA says, oh yeah, we're not selling as much gear as we thought.
All these guys could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and bad press if they had just clued investors in earlier.
The sin isn't the problem. The omission of the sin is. Truth has a way of catching up to you.
So the next time you plow through a garage wall, remember, walls can be replaced. Your good name cannot.
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