While making the ritual triple-shot cappuccinos Sunday morning, I caught a story on TV about what really happened the night John Lennon was murdered 35 years ago.
For all these years, Dr. Stephan Lynn – then head of emergency medicine at New York’s Roosevelt Hospital – claims to have been the one who treated Lennon when he was admitted with multiple gunshot wounds.
The good doctor has long held that he had his hands in the Beatles’ chest and massaged his heart to try to get it beating again. He also said he kept Yoko Ono from violently banging her head on the concrete floor when she learned of her husband’s death.
Turns out none of that was true. Lynn never touched Lennon or Ono. His colleague, Dr. David Halleran, was the one who treated Lennon that night. And Ono never tried to bang her head on anything, instead remaining calm for her son Sean’s sake.
If you watch Dr. Lynn in an interview, it’s hard to believe he made the whole thing up, but he apparently did. Can you imagine going through everything it takes to become a doctor, rising to the director level at a big hospital, and then somehow feeling the need to conjure up a story like that just to get some media attention?
I know; neither can I. It’s mind boggling, but that sort of thing happens. It happens a lot.
Consider Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s CEO for all of four months when a proxy battle discovered that he fudged his resume and did not actually have a computer science degree? And while the board was figuring out what to do with his sorry ass, he told them he had just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and stepped down.
Thompson did, however, walk away with $6.5 million – not a bad haul for 130 days of work – and is currently the cancer-free CEO of privately held ShopRunner.
Meanwhile, the story of Twitter’s founding was heavily fictionalized for years.
Co-founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone told story after story about how the social media site came into being that made no mention of co-founder Noah Glass. Turns out that Glass played a big role in developing Twitter while the four were working for Odeo, which he also co-founded. Glass even came up with the name.
Don’t even get me started on our political leaders in Washington. Since I’m currently dealing with losing my small business insurance plan to what can only be described as the intentionally misnamed Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, I’ve got a chronic liar or two in particular in mind, but I’m in no mood to go there today.
Funny, I just got an email a few hours ago from someone who claims to be an executive officer of a Fortune 200 company. Turns out he’s not. Now, how can I trust anything this guys says? Besides, in this day and age when it’s so easy to verify just about anything, not only are his ethics in question but also his judgment.
Of course most of us occasionally embellish a story to get a rise out of folks or exaggerate to emphasize a point we’re trying to make. God knows, I’m guilty of both. Not in my work where integrity and credibility matter, mind you. But when I’m telling you an entertaining story in private, you might want to cut me some slack … and skip the fact checking.
So I don’t want to get too preachy here but I will say this. Lies that seem like no big deal at the time have a funny way of coming back to haunt you. Whether that’s karma or Murphy’s Law, I can’t say. But you only get one shot at life on Earth, and spending it desperately vying for attention and having to constantly look over your shoulder and cover your tracks is no way to live. It’s just too sad for words. And it’s never, ever worth it.
Image credit Pete Souza whitehouse.gov