S:1006 Distinction: Truthful vs. Accurate

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


While reading “The Boys In The Boat” by Daniel James Brown I saw something which had eluded me until then. The story is an accounting of the incredible 4-year journey of nine lads at the University of Washington who made it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. They formed the crew in an 8-man, one-coxswain rowing shell, regarded as the ultimate in boat racing.

The book’s author is a gifted writer, but the ah-ha I had was triggered by his detailed descriptions of tiny events which had occurred decades earlier, before he was born. Through interviews with relatives of the boys, research of news accounts of the events, and his own boots-on-the-ground visits to key locations he pieced together a fascinating read. But it wasn’t accurate.

It was, however, truthful. It was not accurate in that there is no way he could have known exactly what the people were feeling when they saw a particular canyon, or thought during a painful training exercise, or longed for in the midst of their Depression-era scarcity. He wasn’t there and they weren’t alive to tell him.

But, oh, was it truthful! He had me right there in the boat with those boys, feeling what they chose to endure, letting go of their limitations, getting up one more time than they got knocked down. The truth of his descriptions, called narrative nonfiction, far transcended any issues with accuracy.


Coaching Point: While it’s important in many areas (Is your checkbook balanced?), are you letting accuracy obscure the truth of your life journey? Do you know your truth?


Copyright 2015 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.