Your word is a valuable currency, and can be determined by a simple equation:
Honesty + Accountability = the Value of Your Word.
When one builds a reputation as someone who is truthful, it is a magnet for sincere respect – from others and from yourself. You can usually sense when someone is lying, or being insincere. Most of us have encountered people who continually bail last minute or have an endless supply of excuses. Now, not to say that life doesn’t get in the way or far-fetched things don’t happen sometimes – like the time I had to call my boss to say that I was going to be late for work because I was waiting on the police to come. He asked why, and I had to tell him the embarrassing truth that I had walked out of the shower to get dressed and saw a flash coming from the window in the building next door. I then had to explain that there are no curtains in my room, so the flash went off at the exact time I was buck naked and fully exposed in the window. Later on, I had to clarify that when the cops arrived after investigating, it turns out that at the precise moment I walked by the window naked, a family was taking a photo of their young child with her birthday cake in their kitchen (which happened to be directly across from my bedroom window,) and they did it first thing in the morning because the father would be at work when she was done her day at school.
This actually happened. It’s so ridiculous that it would be a shame NOT to share this story. This odd and embarrassing experience taught me that life can throw some of the most bizarre situations at you, but when the far-fetched happens and you speak of it, there will be one key difference in how it’s received, and it comes down to a bottom-line statistic:
The value of your word.
What life has taught me is that when you build a relationship, be it personal or professional, you set the tone by laying a foundation based on honesty and accountability. Life is easier because you don’t have to mentally organize the lies you’ve told people. I have sincere gratitude and respect for people who are truthful with me, even if that truth is not something pleasant to hear. Again, that word “courage” surfaces. I often say in my yoga class “thank you for having the courage to be honest with yourself.” It takes courage to be honest with people in your life, but man, does it ever take courage to be honest with yourself.
Being honest with myself and accountable to others was imperative in becoming who I am today. I had to be truthful about what was working in my life and what wasn’t, knowing that I was the only person who could make changes. If I wanted my word to have value, I had to say what I mean and mean what I say, and own up to my shortcomings without blaming people or circumstances. In adopting that philosophy, I noticed a difference in my confidence, how I took action, and how others regarded what I had to say.
If you’re open to it, I encourage you to further build the value of your word through a deeper commitment to honesty and accountability. Observe the decrease in your stress levels by omitting unnecessary lies and excuses from your life. See if it affects your peace of mind, your self-respect, and the perceived value of your word.
To sum up, since I had demonstrated in my previous actions that I was honest, my boss believed me when called in that bizarre morning. Showing up in a police car to work also backed up my story (my car was being repaired, so when all was said and done I asked the cops, since they were here, if they could give me a lift to work. They said yes. Again, true.)
The other valuable lesson I learned that day is to ensure you have curtains covering every window if you don’t want to be an inappropriate backdrop in a child’s birthday photograph.