Never Make This Fatal Mistake – Do It Once And Lose Forever
I was quite literally shattered last week when someone did something that shocked me very deeply. I was dismayed. Stunned. It hurt me personally, but hurt them much, much more. This person made one of the biggest mistakes we can make in life. Avoid it at all costs. Please. Here it is.
I wrote a post about Australian business icon David Gonski, who once said to me: “Staying pissed off is a luxury in business.” I have had to remind myself of this these past few days. Happily, I am now reconciled. Because I realize the person who pissed me off actually hurt himself far more than anyone else.
Quite simply, this person broke the most fundamental rule to building a business career and –many would say- a life to be proud of. Fail this rule, and you will not be remembered well. To succeed, this must be the basis of everything you do. Here it is:
Be true to your word
It’s a simple as that. If you make an agreement, shake hands on a deal, make a promise, make a commitment- then stick to it. Honor it. Be true to your word. It does not need to be a signed contract. It’s about your word.
This person, despite looking me in the eye a week prior and, literally hand on heart telling me our agreement was on track, knew all the time that it was not. He knew he was not going to honor the three handshakes he’d had with me in preceding weeks confirming his word that we had a firm agreement. He knew he was going to do something quite the opposite. He’d been working on the other direction for weeks, while keeping me ‘warm’. I could accept his having second thoughts and bringing our discussion to a halt, despite his commitments. But to keep reassuring me of his positive intent while exploring and then deciding on another direction- that sucks! I absolutely reject his outright deception and lack of integrity. He was not true to his word. His handshake meant nothing.
I read a business magazine in my hotel room in Singapore a few weeks ago- an article on the ‘Best advice I was ever given’, with 20 global business leaders giving their view. One said this:
“The best advice I was ever given was from my Dad- who said: ‘Your reputation is your most important asset.’”
This person’s reputation as being ‘trustworthy’ was frankly not good when I started dealing with him, but I stupidly put that aside as I was attracted to the bigger picture of what was possible. Now his true character has been exposed to me, and to my colleagues. The fact is, for the rest of our time, whenever his name is mentioned, we will shake our heads and mutter:” Oh well, he was not made of the right stuff.” His reputation with us is gone forever.
His colleagues are sadly tainted by it too.
As George Washington said: “Associate with good men (and women) of quality if you esteem your own reputation: for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”
Why Am I Telling You This?
Because while we all probably know how critical it is to be true to our word, how character underpins reputation and how important our reputations are, it takes someone to really let themselves down like this for us to get the reminder- the slap in the face. I feel so sad for the person involved. And so damned passionate about ensuring I never forget that my word is my bond. And I wanted to give you a little reminder too.
Truthfully, it has also made me feel better to write about it. That’s because I am small minded and weak- but hell, I do feel better.
I read this quote from Buddha at the weekend: “Sometimes not getting something you really want is a wonderful present.” That’s how I feel today about the agreement with that person. How lucky am I that I did not get what I wanted!