You don’t just ask for credibility and get it. You actually have to behave your way to credibility. Credibility is a combination of both character and competence.
I remember, early in my career learning a valuable lesson on character. I worked for a healthcare organization and I was responsible for contracting with the physician groups in the area. This is back in the day of the typewriter. Most of you don’t know what a typewriter is. You can look at them in museums now, but the point is that this was a time when everything was laboriously typed out.
We had a particular contract that we’d been working on and the contract had gone back and forth between several people. It was an involved contract, nine or ten pages in length, and required a lot of work. When we were finally ready to get the contract signed, it went missing.
No one could find the contract and everyone started pointing the finger at someone else. So we painstakingly had to recreate the entire contract. We were able to do it a little bit quicker because we had good memories, but nevertheless it took a lot of extra work to put together the entire contract again.
We made the deadline and got the contract signed.
About five months later, I was working in my office late one night and was looking for a document. I pulled a file out of my drawer and paper clipped to the back of that file was the missing contract. I couldn’t believe it! I was young at the time and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my first thought was, ‘O.K. it’s all done, nobody knows, I’m just going to throw this away.’
While I didn’t throw it away, I wasn’t sure what to do. I went home that night and thought about it. The next morning, probably driven by guilt, I took the contract into the medical director’s office, who was my boss, and I said ‘Dr. Yenchik, I’ve got to show you something, and you’re going to kill me.’
He looked at me like he had no idea what I was going to show him and I said ‘Remember the contract that we couldn’t find 5 months ago? I had it. It was paper clipped to another file I had. I’m so sorry.’
Dr. Yenchik looked at me and said, ‘I think I would have just thrown it away.’
We both laughed.
But I noticed, after that experience, and I’m not saying this so you think I’m some honest, high integrity guy, but I remember specifically, feeling a higher level of trust and confidence from Dr. Yenchik.
It was a simple, yet significant lesson that I learned early in my career about the importance of character and integrity. I also learned the importance, and benefit of, quickly admitting when you’re wrong or when you’ve made a mistake. That was an early lesson for me in learning how to behave your way to credibility.
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