FIT@50 / week 74
Let Your Word Be Your Bond
Liliana Hart posted something this week that really hit home. I like to share lessons learned from boyhood. My dad wasn’t a talkative man, but when he did, his words were considered carefully and held the weight with which delivered.
It’s an embedded core value. I had a practice with every command position I held, including Chief of Police. I made two promises to everyone I supervised. First, I’d never curse them. Second, I’d never lie to them.
You’d think that would be a given in life, but unfortunately, it isn’t always true. Too often people feel a need to placate others, even at the expense of the truth. Maybe it’s not technically a lie in their eyes, but the slanted reality never serves anything other than an escape hatch away from responsibility.
As a young officer, my zeal to enforce the law caused a lapse in protocol. The Sheriff came into my office, which usually signaled trouble—big trouble. I saw the seething just below his surface, and with good reason. I think we’d stuffed thirty something drug dealers into three small holding cells while we continued an arrest operation.
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault,” were the most sincere words I’d spoken up to that point in my career. I watched the red drain back below his collar until a natural pallor returned. When I said I messed up, I honestly meant it. When I said I was sorry, it was soul deep – I promised to do better and I meant that too. He knew my words were my bond. We shook hands as he walked out. It defined my career.
Integrity extends beyond law enforcement. It should be a cornerstone in the way you treat others. Whether it’s a customer, a criminal or your kid. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let your word be your bond.
I’ve had to ask and sometimes teeter on begging people, “If you don’t know the answer, just say so.” Giving empty words to spare yourself the blackeye or grazed ego seems to have become a standard social practice.
When and why have some people in business and public service become so fragile in their foundations, that a lie is preferred to earning someone’s trust for truth telling. I thought it was simple, but even giving truthful bad news is better than offering a pretty false picture.
If my dad said we were going to get the belt, you could bank on it that we’d get our little butts spanked. Maybe if customers learned to “spank” unethical practices with their discontinued spending, that false prophets of capitalism would either cease to exist or change their deceptive practices.
Uh, oh – is that the crisp crack of a belt I hear?