Does ‘Honesty’ still matter?
Let’s explore this topic together in my 1st podcast.
And let me be very honest about my broken English (I am still working on improving) as well. Hope you’ll excuse my imperfect & inaccurate English, and get my message that’s straight from my heart.
I’ve been very honest throughout my life. That sometimes made life a bit difficult, but I can tell you that it was worth it!
In today’s world, honesty is underrated, often considered ‘backdated’. Maybe I don’t belong to this world or maybe I want to be the change I want to see in this world, I lived my life with utmost honesty so far & wouldn’t imagine living otherwise.
Honesty During Academic Life
I am extremely grateful that my parents always taught me the importance of honesty over any achievements. And got the same education from my primary school Saraswati Sishu Mandir and my secondary school Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission. Glad I could etch honesty into my moral fibre, into my very being.
The road of honesty isn’t easy but the most fulfilling one for sure.
My first test of honesty was during school exams. Cheating has become so mainstream that it is termed as ‘hall collection’ & I’ve seen parents beating their children in public for not being able to ‘hall collect’ hence falling short 5 marks in scoring 100 out of 100. Glad I was not born to such parents.
But I decided not to cheat ever, during any examinations. I didn’t do that to be noble or to prove that I was better than those who cheated, I did that because that’s who I was. I’d rather write whatever little I know, score whatever I deserve than to take the trouble of being dishonest.
I didn’t want the stress of looking over my shoulder ensuring that the examiner didn’t catch me cheating. I have too much self-respect to ever get caught cheating during the exam. Even if I could manage to cheat without being detected, I didn’t want to carry the feeling deep inside life long, knowing that I took some dishonest means to achieve something.
Even after not cheating ever in any exams, I managed to score around 90% in secondary & higher secondary board exams, cleared IIT JEE Prelim, (if I can remember correctly) bagged 269th rank in WBJEE & got admission in Shibpur BE College (now IIEST Shibpur) with Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering department.
In case, you are wondering ‘well for a brilliant student like you, it’s easy not to cheat’; I’d like to tell you the hard work I had put in my studies during that time, would have allowed anyone to score well in any exam. Brilliance has nothing to do with it.
If you think being honest during my school exams was easy for me, wait till you read the next one.
During my Engineering, I realised that traditional education wasn’t for me & I’d never bee able to work in a job. I shifted my entire focus on studying personal growth & business-related subjects, & started grooming myself as an Entrepreneur.
I rarely studied or attended classes. But still, I didn’t cheat during exams. I was okay with scoring just the pass marks. I even got 2 supplementary in my 7th Semester. Cleared those in next sem though.
Being a ranker all my life, it wasn’t easy to settle for pass marks. It was too easy to get tempted to just ‘hall collect’ & keep my Engineering results on top as well. But I again chose honesty.
I still remember the most disastrous exam experience during my Engineering. As my concentration was on my business for most of the semester, I had to rely on the study before exams to save myself from failing. I used to stay outside of our college campus as a paying guest nearby. On exam dates, I used to go to the hostel in the morning to discuss the most probable questions & answers, then go to college with friends who stayed in the hostel.
One fine morning when I reached hostel and started discussing the subject of that day’s exam, I was horrified to find out that I prepared for the wrong subject! And unfortunately, the subject of that day’s exam was the 1 subject that I knew nothing about and kept for studying before exam mostly. It was damn scary I must tell you. My friends insisted that they’d help me in the hall. But I knew I couldn’t do that! Thankfully some of my angel friends prepared me for some probable question answers within 1-hour & I gave exam depending on that completely. And I passed!
See? Honestly always paid off.
Honesty in Love Life
Now let me take you to my love life and show you how honesty did fine.
I need to give you a quick background of my love life so that you get the context. I was in love with a girl from the first day of nursery school. Ya I know, too filmy. Doesn’t happen in real life.
But thankfully it happened to me. She was actually my first friend at school ( got to know from Mom), proposed each other during class 3/4 & then got separated after class 4 when I joined a residential school away from our hometown.
I kept searching for her everywhere every time I was in my hometown during vacations. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any means to contact each other. After 6 long years of waiting, finally, life brought us together again. Magically we could resume exactly where we’ve left.
Her first question to me was ‘Do you still love me?” & I didn’t take a breath to reply “Yes”. I guess you can call this honesty as well.
Honesty was getting back home and telling my parents that one day I’d marry this girl & no one else. Right on that day! And I was 15. Parents were angry, hurt, furious. They predicted my doom in every aspect of life. They predicted it would ruin my career, it would ruin my life. From the way things looked at that day, my parents would never accept this girl as my wife.
Wasn’t it easy to take it slow & keep things hidden from parents? Wait for the right time to tell them? Maybe, but for me as usual, honesty was the right thing to do! I didn’t want to spend time with my love, always looking over my shoulder ensuring my parents or some acquaintance hasn’t spotted us holding hands or riding cycle together. I wanted to tell my parents the truth myself. I didn’t want them to know the truth from someone else.
We started visiting each others’ homes. My parents were not happy & her parents knew us as friends.
One day her mother cornered me & wanted to talk. I can still remember the playground where I sat with her mother & was told “See Sourav. I know you two are good friends, nothing else. But the way you two are spending time, this society will misrepresent it.” Can you guess what my reply was? “Aunty who told you we are friends? I love your daughter and will marry her one day”. That was honesty. Very very difficult honesty. But it was incredibly fulfilling.
We kept getting closer over the years. Our families started getting softer about our relationship over the years. We started doing business together as well. What an incredible journey it was.
It was like a fairy tale, for a while. As years passed, and we got to know the dark side of each other as well, we started experiencing the not so good part of relationships as well – regular fights, misunderstanding, over possessiveness & other usual menaces. We started too young, we had no prior relationship experiences, we spent too much time with each other, we were immature. This was the real struggling period in our relationship. But the love didn’t diminish a bit.
My Most Difficult Test of Honesty
Then came the most difficult test of honesty for me. I started developing a feeling for someone else. I was still in love with her, but I couldn’t resist falling in love with someone else. I didn’t plan for it, I never intended it but it happened. Over the years life has been laying some bricks to make it happen. I was torn up inside.
At 25, I was struggling with my unmanageable feelings. I did the last thing anyone would do under such circumstances.
I told her about my feeling for someone else.
She was shattered, she was broken into pieces, she felt betrayed, she was mad at me. How could I do this to her? After being in love with each other for so long? After being open about our relationship everywhere, letting the whole world know we are together forever.
I never intended to do this to her. I felt terrible hurting her. But the only thing I was sure about at that moment was, that not being honest with her about my feeling would be more unfair to her.
It took quite a few years to process my feelings & let go, realising that she was the only one I’d never be able to live without.
Honesty in Career
Due to this honesty, I decided to let go of my old business that I’ve built for 7 years starting from college. As much as I’ve learned from that experience, once I realised I was not being honest with myself & the people I am selling to, I decided to discontinue. The decision wasn’t easy at all. I had no savings left. And I just cut off my only source of income at the age of 26.
I restarted my business from scratch again.
I started as a Digital Marketing freelancer on Fiverr doing $5 jobs like opening someone’s Facebook page or making someone’s rectangular image into square logos.
Colleagues from my previous business, my classmates thought I was doing something that was beneath me. But I continued.
You must have heard about ‘fake it until you make it’ in the business world. I did exactly the opposite. I decided to stick to being brutally honest.
For example, after finishing a $5 job with a client setting up their Facebook page, when I was asked “Can you develop WordPress website?”, instead of lying “Yes. I am an expert blah blah blah”, I said “I haven’t developed a WordPress website before except my own. If you put your trust on me, I can develop yours at a very cheap cost of $50”.
Obviously, the client agreed. He was getting service at dirt cheap & I was getting a chance to develop my expertise & build my portfolio.
This is how I started building my portfolio as a Digital Marketer.
In no time, not only my income started growing, but also the ratings & referrals started coming endlessly.
I brought my first teammate & started working as a 2 person team. And then the 2nd teammate, then the 3rd & so on so forth. We bagged our first 10,000 USD + project within 6 months.
Within one year, my team of Digital Marketing professionals were handling projects from numerous clients from all over the world & I was managing the client communication.
Very soon, I had to bring in Virtual Business Managers to assist me in managing client communication as well.
Fast forward to today, we have an incredible virtual team of expert Digital Marketers & Business Managers, serving happy clients from 30+ countries. Last financial year, we’ve achieved 200% + revenue growth.
Oh! Did I tell you that we don’t have any office, a single employee or even a company name? How is it working so well then? Again – honesty.
We sell only that service to clients that would actually increase his business revenue. We never sell useless services to clients for the sake of our revenue. This honesty is the foundation of our business.
The way we charge clients and the way I pay our teammates – it’s super transparent & unlike most (if not any) traditional organisations.
If a client pays 100 INR for a project, 80 INR goes to the teammate(s) who work on the tasks, 10 INR goes to the business manager who has closed the project & in charge of client communication, and 10 INR goes to my profit. See, just told you as well. Nothing to hide.
So clients are not paying for anything unnecessary. Teammates are getting paid fairly for their hard work & can earn as much depending on the volume of projects they can handle.
Even more than that, our teammates do the accounting themselves. So everyone working in our team, knows our total revenue, earning of everyone & profit. Absolutely nothing to hide. That’s honesty.
So you can see that my professional life has turned up pretty well being honest.
What about my personal life?
Resisting the urge to write a book about it right here, let me just give you the gist.
I am happily married to the girl I was in love since childhood.
It’s been two and a half year already!
We are madly in love with each other, more than ever before. Glad we finished all the misunderstandings & fights before marriage, now we spend our days with love and laughter.
We do fight, but rarely & lasts for a few minutes at max.
We are happier than we’ve ever been in our lives. And you should see how my parents treat her & her parents treat me.
You wouldn’t believe that they were so against our relationship just a few years back. The setbacks we had due to our honesty, helped us become better versions of ourselves.
Life is perfect. As close to a fairytale, as it can be. If I was not honest throughout my life, I don’t think I’d ever been able to experience the peace that I am blessed with today.
So that was my experience with honesty. What’s your experience with honesty? I’d love to know! Let me know in the comments.
And how did I do in my first podcast? What would you want me to talk about in my future Podcast Episodes? Let me know in the comments.