Sometimes when I balance my checkbook, I lament that money often seems to be flowing out more quickly than it flows in. I balance my checkbook almost every day; I know what bills are coming due and I try to defer as much “extra” money as I can into my savings account emergency fund. I like to think that I am rather diligent in managing my money, but always with room to improve.
There is another account that is equally as important. I call the institution that houses this important personal account The Credibility Bank & Trust, or CB&T for short.
Unlike your checking account, your CB&T account balance is not measured in dollars. It is measured in reputation. Deposits are made when you do the right thing, while your account balance is reduced every time you fail to do so. Deliver quality work when you say you’ll deliver it – there’s a deposit. On the other hand, delivering subpar or late work constitutes a withdrawal. Make a promise to a friend or coworker and deliver on it – there’s a deposit. Break that same promise – big withdrawal. Promptly return telephone calls and acknowledge emails – easy deposits. Hide behind your voice mail and ignore incoming emails – withdrawal. Properly prepare for meetings and contribute positively to the discussion – another deposit. Sit silently in meetings while periodically peeking at your cell phone – balance reduced.
Each of us has a CB&T account at home, too, and it works the same way as your on-the-job account. For example, treat your family with love and respect – consistent deposit inflow. Take them for granted and your account depletes rapidly. You get the picture.
How do you know your CB&T balance? The greatest measure of your CB&T account balance is in your reputation. Do people trust you? Do they come to you with problems? Can they trust you to keep your promises and maintain confidentiality? If the answers to these questions are yes, you can rest assured that you have built a nice surplus in your CB&T balance that will serve you well in your career and your personal life. If the answers to any of these questions is no, it’s time to audit behaviors and begin repairing the reputational damage.
As you consider these questions, know that your perceived account balance may vary between individuals at work or within your family. Think about that for a moment. What happens when you treat people at work differently from one another? One person thinks you’re great while the other – not so much. Over time, such conduct erodes your CB&T balance until you are overdrawn; at that point you become ineffective and, well, dispensable.
So what must we do to ensure our Credibility balance is in the black? Jesus offers some very succinct direction:
“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6:31 (NKJV)
The people Jesus is talking about are all around you. They serve you in stores and restaurants. They occupy the nearby cubicle. They pass you on the highway. You live with some and you work with others. They are your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, your closest friends, and the strangers you pass on the sidewalk. If you consistently seek to treat others as you would like to be treated, you run little risk of depleting your CB&T account balance.
The notion of the Credibility Bank & Trust is something I try to bear in mind at all times, and I have shared it with several coworkers and business colleagues. Give it a try; It has served me well, and I’m convinced that it will serve you well, too.