“I value self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control.” – Tim Ferriss
I was thinking about calling this post “The Bullshit Artist” but that seemed a little harsh, no? I mean, we all do it from time to time. Tell people we’re going to deliver on this or that. Make promises and then send an e-mail or text in the last minute: “Sry, can’t make it. Grandma just died.” and our clients, colleagues or friends are left with the question “How many grandmothers does that mofo have? It’s, like. the 3rd one this month!”.
I recently saw “Jerry Maguire” again and there’s this scene where Beau Bridges’ character refuses to sign a contract but says to Tom Cruise: “What you do have is my word, and it’s stronger than oak.” shakes hands on it.
As you know, or can guess by the theme, this turns out to not be the case. In fact he basically takes advantage of Maguire’s trust and gives him a thorough rogering up ye olde butthole.I recommend you watch the movie and reflect on all the lessons there. There’s a LOT you can learn. To surround yourself with the right people, dream big, lessons in love etc.
This post came about since quite a few of my friends, clients and associates recently have talked about getting screwed over in one way or another. “He said this, but did that”, “The company said they’d take care of it, but it just ran into the sand”, “I’m still waiting on her call two weeks later”.
We’re in the business of people. We’d like people to be trustworthy. We’d like to be trustworthy ourselves. But are we? Are our words “stronger than oak”?
I was contacted by a musician in France who just wanted a little general advice. The writing was reminiscent of when I was reaching out to people in the business and felt like a nobody. I sent him a few links to stuff I felt he should check out and start working on that. We started a working relationship and we both felt excited. He later asked me a very poignant question: “Why were you so kind to me, you didn’t even know me?”.
I couldn’t identify the feelings that came over me at first. Was I happy, proud, surprised or sad? Turned out it was all of the above. That’s the first time I realized how extremely rare it is for people to keep their promises. How rare it is for someone to say: “I’ll see you there at 16PM” and when you turn up at 15:45 they’re already there waiting for you!
Sure, the guy was a client but i’d like to think that I would have treated him with the same courtesy regardless. It’s so easy to make excuses like we don’t want to “hurt people’s feelings” or we “genuinely would like to keep our promises” but “it’s just so damn hard when we’ve got all this other stuff!”.
All this came about when a company had promised one of my clients the A-class treatment he’d seen when he was at their showroom. Well, I saw the result and it was a complete crapfest. Definitely not worth the $23.000 he’d spent on it. So, he got pissed off and the company explained that they had given part of the job to a subcontractor who’d basically “effed it up” in a major way.
Needless to say, when your reputation is on the line like that you need to step up. They promised to redo the work to his satisfaction. Remains to be seen how it turns out. This shouldn’t even be an issue. You should always be upfront and honest. Regardless if it’s painful or not. It builds trust and also gives the other person the possibility of being honest about their intentions too. They can choose not to be, but you can only control your own behaviour.
Now you can make an informed decision. It might have been that nobody ever told you this. It might have been because you’ve seen other people act that way. You might have thought that the whole world is like this and that’s the way it is.
Well, i’m here to tell you: No. No it’s not.
You have a choice to make sure that whatever you promise you keep. That other people can be sure that no matter what anyone else does YOU are a person who people can trust.
If you choose not to?
I mean it from the bottom of my heart. You’re an awful person who should feel really bad about treating other people with such little regard. My hope is that people treat you with the same contempt and that it helps you make a conscious decision to NEVER make anyone else feel that way ever again.
There’s a reason I try to avoid using this kind of language. It’s not nice. We all like nice things. When nice things break we get pissed off. We should continue to have nice things. Because nice things are, well, nice.
There’s a simple way to determine a persons character. Look at what they do. They might entice you with promises, make stuff out to be better than they actually are. What it all comes down to are the results. Actions speak louder than words.
If someone constantly promises to get you that report by Wednesday and makes all kinds of excuses about the his wife eating the homework? You’ve got a bullshit artist. What if that person instead said “Shove that report up your wazoo, i’m starting a conga line!”. You’d question their sanity but atleast you’ll know where they stand.A person’s character isn’t determined by their words but by their actions.
So the next time you make a promise to a client, colleague or friend and “something happens” or “something better” comes up think about what kind of person you want to be. You might get a short term gain but you’ll lose your credibility with the people who matter.
Do you want your CV to have “Bullshit Artist” on it?
“Commitment. This is my favorite word because in some way, people who are committed are always much more interesting and much more reliable, and much more, I would say, deep than people who are not.” – Carlos Ghosn
Bruce Muzik – The Big Secret Nobody Wants To Tell