What really happens in a moment of truth?
And I don’t mean the Procter & Gamble, marketing, or even Google “moments of truth,” though I’ll get to those in a minute.
I mean those times when the traffic light of change in someone’s mind suddenly flips from red to green. When you decide to go forward. Or stay back. To act. To change.
I think most, if not all, of us have had at least one moment like that, don’t you? I think back to some of mine: when I decided to lose weight, or start a business, or run again. In each of them I can pinpoint the moment the light changed, the moment I changed.
I’m kind of obsessed with that moment because of the power it holds. I mean, just imagine what could happen if you could unlock the secrets of those moments. If you could create them, engineer them, for yourself or for others.
After all, storytellers create them all the time for characters in their stories. In fact, all great stories have a moment of truth. Sometimes it’s called the “climax,” sometimes it’s called the “point of no return.” Regardless of what it’s called, it’s the moment where the main character has to make a decision.
It’s the moment where they have to answer a question for themselves: “What will I do now?” And more specifically, “What will I do with this new information I have?”
You can see why Proctor & Gamble chose “moment of truth” to describe three critical moments in the buyer’s experience: the moment when they first engage with product or brand (and decide whether or not to buy), when they use the product (and evaluate the experience), and when they can share that experience publicly (and decide whether or not to do so). Google added a “zero moment of truth” to describe the online research and decision-making that precedes the decision to buy.
Regardless of which or what kind of moment of truth we’re talking about, though, in each case someone has to absorb and process information and, as in stories, answer the question, “What will I do now?”
So, how do you create that moment and that question?
(Too) often we resort to lists of features and benefits to try to convince people to change. That’s information, right? Or, your instinct might say to give people information they would question. Things they didn’t previously know or might disagree with.
Yet, in each of those cases, people don’t end up asking that key question. They end up questioning the information. Or you.
That’s because, as humans, we’ll go to rather extraordinary lengths to preserve our beliefs and to hold fast to our goals. In fact, (and you know this if you have kids) if you try to force a change, you’ll often get the exact opposite as those mental heels start digging in.
But the moment there’s a question, there’s a choice. And choice is the antidote to force.
Why? Because the questions in that moment, the questions that get the green light, are questions of truth. They are moments you have to choose between what you want, what you know, and what you do.
Even further, moments of truth are when those three suddenly come into conflict with each other. Just like in stories, they are the moments where you have to answer a question for yourself, the question that sits behind “What will I do now?”: “Which truth will I choose?”
And to paraphrase another speaker I saw recently, you rarely argue with your own answers.
So as counterintuitive as it may be, to get the green light, to create a moment of truth, you need to give people information they can’t argue with. Things they want, know, or do that are in opposition to each other.
You need to give them truths they can’t question individually but that create a question together.
- When I wanted to lose weight, the truth that all food had a Points value made me question both the quality and quantity of all the food I was eating. And I lost weight.
- When I wanted to start a business, the truth (for me) that “a life lived in fear is a life half-lived” made me question my excuses for waiting. I started this business.
- When I wanted to finish the race, the truth that “runner and the road are one” made me question whose finish line mattered more. I finished the race and went back and finished it again.
At the heart of every change is a moment of truth.
###The moment there’s a question, there’s a choice. And choice is the antidote to force. Click To Tweet Counterintuitively, to get the green light, to create a moment of truth, you need to give people information they can't argue with. Click To Tweet All great stories have a moment of truth. What's yours? Click To Tweet