To be honest.

In all honesty.


All cards on the table.

And this is a true story.

Different ways we all start sentences to let others know we’re extra serious this time and that every other time is a version of the truth. 

We all struggle with truth.  It affects our contentment, our relationships, our wealth.  To follow is an exploration of that, but first a golf story.  You don’t need to play golf to appreciate.


A new(er) golf course lies in South Pittsfield, Tennessee – population 3,000 – called Sweetens Cove Golf Club.  It’s aim is to strip a complicated game and industry to its bare bones. 

The idea was born out of the 2008-09 financial crisis: to bring back the essence of golf in a very frothy, bells and whistles industry. It was solving for lower barrier to entry while preserving the simple beauty of the game.

It’s an honest experience.  Just golf.  If you want to eat, you tailgate and bring your own food and grill.  There’s a blue porta-potty.  A dirt road and gravel parking lot.  A 20 by 10 feet aluminum shed that serves as a check-in clubhouse/pro shop. 

No cross selling, buy 1/get 1s, shirt sales, complicated lunch menus, locker room attendants or bag drop.  Just an honest, crystal clear, beautifully maintained golf experience.

I bring a diverse perspective to golf courses having spent part of my professional life witnessing many of them step all over themselves.  My time was spent with private courses, public courses, resort courses, singly owned, member owned, and large organization owned.  Many failed or continue to tread water because they simply couldn’t/can’t be honest with themselves.  They struggle for truthful identity – so they try to be everything.  They run promotions, build new clubhouses, install pools, run tournaments – about-face: close the clubhouse on certain days, shutdown the pool, raise prices, you name it.


Back to our sentence starters.  How much of these sentence starters are born from the fact that we have a hard time keeping our stories straight and knowing who we are, what we think, what we feel?

I’d suggest we do this with ourselves and with others everyday.  It’s almost like the little kid in us is so excited to finally tell the truth that we have to make sure the other person knows.  Inside we say: “I get to tell the truth!  Finally, I can stop faking it and let these people know who I am!”  How it’s communicated: “To be honest…”

Clarity is something I frequently address in accumulating and preserving wealth.  Anything other than the truth only fogs the vision and slows down or derails the process. 

The lack of clarity, lack of honesty and truth, is understandable.  If you concede that our minds are a big tangled ball of mush made up of genes, our past and present environments, and iteration upon iteration upon iteration of societal evolution – it’s no wonder clarity is hard to find. 

Maybe that’s part of being human.  Our reaction to that lack of clarity is the challenge.  Often, we default to the idea that adding more to our lives (or adding more to the golf experience) is where we’ll find honesty.  And, maybe that’s true in some cases.  Although, we know that it can distract us from our core.

Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, always references ‘Garbage Time’ in reference to his family.  

“I don’t need any special days. I mean they’re all special. We spend a lot of time together and I enjoy every second of it. Again, I’m a believer in the ordinary and the mundane. These guys that talk about ‘quality time’ – I always find that a little sad when they say, ‘We have quality time.’ I don’t want quality time. I want the garbage time. That’s what I like. You just see them in their room reading a comic book and you get to kind of watch that for a minute, or [having] a bowl of Cheerios at 11 o’clock at night when they’re not even supposed to be up. The garbage, that’s what I love.”

Jerry feels clear in these moments and honest with himself.  He’s not focused on creating something or a feeling that may or may not exist. 

Clarity is the name of the game.  Not peace of mind.  Peace from mind.  When we get out of our heads and in the quietest of moments, what is wealth to us?

Writer and Mathematician, Nassim Nicholas Taleb recently wrote:

True Wealth

Worriless sleeping · Clear conscience · Reciprocal gratitude · Absence of envy · Muscle strength · Frequent laughs · No meals alone · No gym classes · Good digestive functions · No meeting rooms · No surprises · Foamy coffee · Crusty bread · Ability to nap · Access to a hammock

Most of the above seem to involve emptying (especially ‘good digestive functions’).  Building wealth by removal, not acquisition.  Paradoxically, nearly all philosophies and spiritual methods across the globe teach us that only until we give it all up, do we actually get it all.

The padded brokerage account, extra house, and new cars are side effects of a wealthy life, not the definition of.

So, let’s strive, have goals, make plans, and get more.  Honesty is required, though.  Daily distractions and our egos screw up the mission statement.  We need to know who we are and why we’re doing it. 

While the current fad seems to demonize wealth, I’ll gladly represent the other side of that debate.  It’s the mindless striving, “I’ll be happy when…”, and the “we should get…”, that needs checked at the door.  We need to stay honest.  The moment we find ourselves anxious, agitated, afraid, or angry is the exact moment we started being dishonest with ourselves.  Our personal truth does not contain those emotions.

Humans need guardrails.  This excerpt from a Wealth of Wisdom offers good questions to keep ourselves honest:

“I’ve found that the wealthiest people I know are those who stay in community, connected, and are concerned about the balance of the world’s wealth.  They never cease to ask questions, including:

  • What is wealth?
  • Am I wealthy?
  • What is the purpose of wealth?
  • Is my life, community, and world in balance?
  • Is the world wealthy?
  • Can I be wealthy if those around me are not?”

There aren’t right or wrong answers to these questions.  They simply keep us engaged, mindful, and honest.

Step 1 of any wealth building process:  Know yourself honestly and stay focused. 

Business trends, a handful of customer demands, manager/boss expectations, the Jones’ next door, and a quick scroll of our social media newsfeed can quickly take us off course.

Then, think in lifetimes, which ironically, helps us be more gracious with this moment.  We become less in a rush and quick thoughtless actions that are untrue to ourselves will die on the vine. 

So, to be honest:

Stay calm. Stay invested.

Thanks for reading,


See disclosures.

1 Comment

  1. Patty Wallner on July 11, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Fabulous read… really enjoyed it!

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