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Something to Ponder

What You Want to Hear vs. What You Need to Hear

There’s a story about a dad who goes to one of his sons and asks, “Son, will you help me in the field today?” And the son says, “I got you, Dad, I’ll be there. You can count on me.”

Pleased with the response, the man then goes to his other son and asks the same question, who replies, “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll be able to.”

Later that day, as the dad is in the field working, only the second son shows up. The first son, who said he would be there, doesn’t show.

The first son told his dad what he wanted to hear, though he had no intention of showing up when his dad really needed him. The second son was honest. He didn’t think he would be there, so he told his dad what he needed to hear, which was the truth.

When you really need someone, like the dad in this parable, you will be wondering about the whereabouts of those people who told you all the flowery words that made you feel so good earlier. I believe the first son had no intention of showing up; he just told his dad what his dad wanted to hear.

When the dad looked up from his work in the field, he saw someone walking out to help—it just wasn’t the son he had expected. Maybe the second son cleared his schedule, or perhaps he thought to himself, “You know what? Quit being a lazy jerk and go help your dad.” Either way, he showed up. People who are honest with others will also be honest with themselves.

Here is a hard truth: most often in life, we reject the people who tell us what we need to hear because it may be difficult to accept. What we need to hear may make us feel uncomfortable, which leads us to reject or become angry with the person who is most trying to help us. Or, worse yet, you are the one telling people what they want to hear because it’s easy and you don’t want to be the “jerk.”

So how do we bring this to a close in a meaningful way? I don't know, but I hope I’ve got you thinking about the type of person you are and about the type of people with whom you surround yourself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter Levinson is the eXp branch office broker for the Levinson Real Estate Team. FMI, visit or call 405.285.5750.