The Coach's Corner

The impact of a deathbed confession

The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #26

Do you ever wonder if the people around you are who they say they are?

That’s the gist of a story that caught my attention this week. After being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, a father decided to tell his daughter that he had a secret. One he had carried for most of his life.

Ashley Randele told CNN:

He was a fugitive, and had been one for more than five decades. More than 50 years earlier, when he was 20 years old, he’d robbed an Ohio bank of $215,000. And his real name was not Thomas Randele but Theodore Conrad.

Today’s headline, the impact of a deathbed confession, highlights how the revelation of a secret changes how a family believes they knew one another. When a client recently caught a team member in a lie, I was able to share an insight, using four steps to deal with someone you believe isn’t telling the truth. And today’s tool – 3 keys to restoring integrity so that you can share your story. Let’s dive in.


The impact of a deathbed confession

When Ashley Randele learned that her father was a fugitive, whose name was Ted Conrad, the first thing she did was ‘google’ him to discover there were hundreds of stories about the bank heist in July, 1969 in Ohio and that he was still a wanted man. She told him they had to share the news with her mom and they did. Ashley says her mother, who’d known her dad for 40 years, had no idea about his past.

Her father lived for two more months. When he died, she and her mother decided to hold on to this revelation and planned to go to authorities a year later. But in November 2021, US Marshals showed up at their home telling them, “I think you know why we’re here.”

In the new season of Smoke ScreenMy Fugitive Dad, Radnele shares her perspective of her dad’s story, along with how the son of a US Marshal who’d pursued Conrad for decades brought closure to the case.

Courtesy Sony Records: Smoke Screen: my fugitive dad


What if my team member’s story doesn’t add up?

Most of us may never encounter such a deception in our lives so close and personal. But we do encounter people who lie. In many situations we put up with the fabrications because we are aware that dealing with the conflict can be very tough.

When a client, Myra, recently expressed that she believed a team member was lying about an important finding, she told me she felt stuck. I leaned into a brilliant strategy that Amanda Berlin posted on the Muse – 4 steps to take when you catch a co-worker in a lie. Here are her top findings:

Step 1: Make Sure the Person’s Actually Lying

While this sounds basic, it’s also essential. So, before you get caught up in the drama, double check that it really is a lie.

I find this first step immensely helpful – presuming is so very dangerous. Make sure this is a bonafide lie. Then you can proceed

Step 2: Figure Out Your Intentions

When you have that first inkling that someone isn’t being truthful and you feel tempted to confront him or her, stop and ask yourself what your intention is.

The key here is to make sure you’re not working to undermine your colleague. The reason you want to expose the situation is because harm has taken place.

Step 3: Consider the Source and Weigh the Consequences

Analyze the situation through your co-worker’s point of view. What does he or she get out of the lie? What does he or she have to lose if it’s exposed? What are the consequences for you?

Berlin’s point here is to make sure you’re prepared to live with the possible results that would come from bringing the situation to light.

Step 4: Make it a Conversation, Not a Confrontation

If you decide to confront your co-worker, deal with it as soon as possible. You can start the conversation by calmly saying, “Something is on my mind and I wanted to discuss it with you.” Give the person the benefit of the doubt by closing with something like, “Could you help me understand why this happened?”

If the person acknowledges their action, you have a number of choices: forgiveness, writing them up, sharing with a senior leader – whatever protocols are in place at your company.

Myra was able to use these steps and was surprised when the choice she made at the end of the conversation was to forgive and move on. The relationship she now has with her team member has given her clarity on how to set expectations on how findings are reported, with more accountability all around.


How to restore integrity and share your story

It’s not always the ‘other’ person who’s being less than honest. Maybe you’ve had the experience of being caught in an unfavorable light on something at work or at home.

I recall being a frustrated broadcaster and complaining strongly about my co-anchor with someone who would never have been able to support me in working through a tough situation. Instead, she went directly to my partner. Because he wasn’t sure I would ever say such a thing, he decided to speak to me about it, much the same way as recommended in the four steps above.

That was a tough meeting for me.

I was in the wrong. I owned it. He forgave me. We moved on. And I learned something very powerful. Gossip, typically involving details that aren’t necessarily true, was nearly my undoing. While it helped me avoid confrontation, it broke the values I believed in for myself.

So I came up with three steps to live through tough situations with integrity. I emerged better equipped to be open, direct and truthful in my interactions with anyone.

  1. Own your story. What is your story? It may include your vision, your values, your beliefs. It’s where you come from, what you achieve every day, with whom you connect, where you put your energy.
  2. Stop explaining yourself. There was a time I felt I had to persuade someone to ‘change’ so I would divulge every little detail of my life with anyone who would listen. Egads! Here’s what I learned, no one cared. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.”
  3. Choose to move on. When you hold on to the instances where people hurt you, when you were dismissed or ignored, or opportunities that you felt you deserved but didn’t get – you will feel all of that pain again and again. Your own hero’s journey will include an obstacle, of course, but the goal is to share how you emerged from that low point to allow you to be where you are right now.

My takeaway

When you learn that someone isn’t who you thought they were, it rattles a great deal of what you held to be true. But something Ashley Randele, who had only two more months with her father after his confession, sticks with me.

The first thing Mom and I said to him was, ‘We love you so much. And finding this out does not change that we love you. But we do need to talk about it.’

Whether you want to deal with a colleague or family member who isn’t being forthright, or let it go, check in with those four steps brilliantly outlined by Amanda Berlin.

And if you’re in the process of restoring your own integrity, it’s never too late.

Marshall Goldsmith gets the final word:

Every breath is a new breath.

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