I was brought up in a family where basic, solid, and perhaps boring and cliche values were front and center. Yet, these core values about integrity, honesty, reliability, and so forth have served me well, and continue to make a difference in my life every day. They may be “old fashioned” but they are also what everyone in new media needs to do if you hope to be more than a flash in the pan. Among the most important ones:
1. Tell the truth/ Honesty is the best policy. While you learn as you get older there are many ways of telling the truth (ie. the difference between saying “That makes you look fat” and “I think the other dress was more slimming”)- the basic tenet here is that the truth will always come out, and you can’t outrun lies, so it’s better to stick with the truth- as well as simpler.
2. Your reputation is your most valuable asset. This means what you’re known for, how people see you and talk about you when you aren’t there, counts for a lot. In fact, it can win or lose the game for you long before you ever start playing. This means maintaining a reputation for credibility, reliability, honesty, and follow through are equivalent to gold in the bank.
3. It’s not what you say, but what you do that counts. We’ve all heard things that I call “content-free speech”- platitudes, hollow apologies, things said for convenience rather than any plan or intent to follow through on the promoses made. In the end, the Universe rewards action over inaction all the time, and your actions will speak louder than any of your words. This is why all these phrases have become aphorisms- they are true.
4. The rule is very simple-if you say you are going to do something, do it. Seth Godin posted about this here. It’s all about keeping the promises you make, and making sure that when you say something, people can take that to a bank like it’s money, it’s that reliable and certain. This is my core value- making sure that my word is my bond when I make a commitment, large or small. You can bank on it.
The truth is that being honest with yourself and others, and following through will take you REALLY far in this life. these values contribute to integrity, which you cannot buy, but you sure can sell the heck out of it- it just has to hold up to repeated stress testing. Embellishment is for story telling and comedy, not to mask underlying weakness. And there is no shame in saying No, Not Now, or I’d love to, but I can’t overcommit now- how about another time?
The simplest rules are still the best, and most reliable. Perhaps it’s even the reason why some of them are commandments.