Believe it or not, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is not the only public figure who's into trouble these days for bending the truth.

Over in Silicon Valley, Elizabeth Holmes, the chief executive of Theranos, is under fire for after major newspaper accounts called into question her company's "disruptive" technology. According to the New York Times, "Theranos has acknowledged it was only running a limited number of tests" with its technology.

What these tall tales have in common, of course, is that both Carson and Holmes are master storytellers. They get the premise that, to break through the clutter--of more than a dozen Republicans running for president and hundreds of tech start ups--you have to have a blockbuster movie-sized narrative.

You can just picture it on the big screen: Poor boy rises above adversity to become first a neuroscientist, then president. Young woman quits Stanford, revolutionizes testing, saves countless lives.

But here's a caution for all you would-be larger-than-life icons: The same forces that make a strong narrative necessary also make it likely that little white lies will be exposed.

You can't enjoy the bright glare of You Tube without understanding that you might get burned by the heat of Twitter. Or bask in the glow of the media's coverage without understanding that reporters are, in fact, paid to ask questions.

There's no doubt that, if you're serious about succeeding in any field of endeavor--from business to religion to public office to entertainment--it's essential to craft your image and shape your story.

But, please, resist the temptation to make your story more dramatic or difficult than it actually is.

Ben Carson has spent the last several days in a best-defense-is-a-good-offense mode. He claims the media is on a witch hunt. "The whole point is to distract the populace, to distract me," he said on CBS' Face the Nation.

No, Mr. Carson. The whole point is to uncover the truth. Because, even if a world where gloss is good and anything can be spun, eventually the truth is what matters most.

Correction: This column has been updated to reflect the actual language in the New York Times article cited.

Published on: Nov 10, 2015