About a week ago I watched an episode of Suits, season 6. A character said to Harvey Spector, a main character on the program, “The world knows, when I give my word it is rock solid!” The character wasn’t saying to Spector: “You know my word is rock solid.” The character was saying to Spector, “The world knows my word is rock solid.” I jotted down that quote, anticipating a day would come when I might want to borrow it. There was a certain level of depth to those words that resonated with me.
It’s a breathtaking concept that someone’s word can be absolutely, positively rock solid! It wasn’t so much that the character’s inner circle knew his word was good as gold. It was that the entire planet knew it. This meant his word–his reputation–was as reliable as a Swiss watch. It was as dependable as Monday succeeding Sunday. The statement the character was making was this: His word was as unmistakable as the word of God. Rock bloody solid!
So, when a certain someone said to me yesterday, “I won’t cancel. You have my word!,” the quote from Suits rushed through my head. Lo and behold, three hours later I received a text from this “someone” who wrote, “got 2 cancel.” No apology. Just, got 2 cancel.
Because I know this person is 98.5% unreliable, I wasn’t upset, disappointed, and vindictive doesn’t run through my blood. I had hoped that when this someone said you have my word, this certain someone genuinely meant it. And despite any reasons for this person cancelling, it’s indicative of this person’s true to form persona.
Like the character in Suits, when I give my word it is rock solid! I can’t ever recall backing out of an arrangement with someone even if it meant that there was the potential of losing out on something better. If a prospective employer called any one of my former employers for a reference, there might be some things they could say about me that aren’t especially flattering (e.g., tends to be characteristically late), but they would never, ever be able to claim that ‘Bonita is unreliable’ with a straight face. They would never be able to say ‘Bonita is someone we couldn’t depend on’ (or trust). My word is linked to my character, and I believe character is like karma.
How we present ourselves–with friends, colleagues–is our mission statement to the world. If we’re fickle, untrustworthy, selfish, inconsiderate–these are unfavorable traits that brand us. We walk in the world exposing these characteristics whether we’re aware of it or not. When someone has decided you aren’t dependable, “impeccable with your word,” (which is one of the now popular Four Agreements), or as good as your last lame excuse, this is the way people believe in you. This is the person you have decided to be.
There are some things we pick up on at an impressionable age. Perhaps our parents, those that reared us, or those we were influenced by, which initiated how we view the world and how it works (for or against us). We’re not all blessed to be raised under the most favorable set of circumstances; still, our basic nature is rooted in the quality of how we were brought up.
For those who gave us structure or naught were merely operating from what they were taught. These attributes, or the lack thereof, were demonstrated to us by those having shaped us. As a child, we are unable to discern what exactly is right or wrong. We are left to trust the adults exhibiting conduct in our presence. Yet, as an adults we have a choice. We can decide how we want to represent ourselves in business, among friends, and in society in general.
Any person with adequate intelligence understands that, if you need to cancel or your plans change, its common courtesy to alert any person you’ve made arrangements to meet. When we choose not to reach out to someone to inform them that we aren’t able to keep our commitment, in essence, we are saying to that person you are low priority. My word–anyone’s word–is a public signature, a personal identity. And it follows us wherever we go.