“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man”. Polonius in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The key to having a wildly successful career and a happy life is to attract the right people towards you.
At work, you want the most talented people to want to work for you.
You want the highest performing executives to recruit you to be on their teams.
In your personal life, you want strong, deep, and loyal friendships.
You want a romantic partner that you admire, respect, and with whom you feel chemistry.
There is one skill… that helps in all of these areas.
In fact, it’s not really a skill at all. It’s merely a choice.
It’s the choice to…
Be True to Your Word.
Someone who is true to her word does the following:
- She says what she means.
- She means what she says.
- She does what she says she will do.
This simple concept has incredible power.
When you are true to your word, there is virtually no deviation between your words and your future actions.
Someone true to their word is unfailingly…
Someone who is reliable is also…
Think about this for a moment.
When you tell your boss, “I will get XYZ project done on time, on budget, and with exceptional quality,” if she believes you to be true to your word, she knows the project is as good as done.
This is why high-level executives value team members who are true to their word.
Let’s say you tell a friend, “If you ever get in trouble, call me day or night. I will be there.”
Imagine what happens when one day, your friend actually gets into trouble. He calls you at 3 am asking for help and by 3:35 am, you’re there on his front door.
This is why people value friends who are true to their word.
When your romantic partner says, “I am so nervous about ABC event. Will you show up for me tomorrow night at 7 pm to lend moral support? It would mean a lot to me.” Imagine what goes through his or her mind when you show up at 7 pm… exactly as you said you would.
This is why people value reliable and trustworthy partners.
In every facet of life, being true to your word draws the best people into your life.
Think about it.
The best potential employees, bosses, friends, and romantic partners have options.
The best of the best can choose to work for, recruit, befriend, or partner up with their choice of people.
When you have the option to associate with someone who is true to their word, why would you bother associating with someone who isn’t?
While most people can appreciate the idea of being true to their word, most people do not practice this in everyday life.
In fact, most people are terrible at being true to their word.
Let me give you some examples.
You run into an old acquaintance.
She says, “It was so great to see you. We should get together for coffee.”
You say, “Sounds good, I’ll call you,”… except you don’t call her, and you never planned to.
You were just being “polite.”
Another way to see it is to say you weren’t being true to your word.
You just taught your acquaintance that your word should NOT be relied upon.
Your CEO asks what do all of you think about this idea?
In your heart of hearts, you think, “This is a stupid, pointless idea.”
But rather than sharing your concerns respectfully , you say nothing.
When silence is assumed to be a positive sentiment, but you actually feel negatively, you aren’t being true to your “word” either.
When you tell your boss, “You’ll have the report done by Monday at noon,” if you hand in your report Monday at 2 pm, you weren’t being true to your word either.
There are three ways to become better at being true to your word.
1) SAY what you actually mean.
Most people speak in a roundabout way that’s difficult to interpret concretely. Use concrete words:
“I need more information before I can decide.”
“I’m not comfortable making such an aggressive commitment.”
“This doesn’t work for me. Let me explain why…”
2) STOP saying things you do not actually mean.
Don’t agree verbally when you actually disagree in your private thoughts.
Don’t say you’ll be there at 5 pm, when you know you’re not going to be there until5:30 pm.
Don’t say, “I would love to go to ABC event,” when really you hate the thought.
3) DO what you say you will do… 100% of the time.
If you say you will get the specifications done before the weekend, actually get the specifications done before the weekend.
If you say you will triple check your numbers, actually triple check your numbers.
If you say you will prepare for the Wednesday meeting, actually prepare for the Wednesday meeting.
Being true to your word is not rocket science.
The concept is simple.
But just because an idea is simple doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do consistently… day in… day out.
I leave you with a question – if dependability were to be a monetary value, how bankable will your words be?
(Excerpts from Hamlet and Victor Cheng’s writing)