Sunday, October 12, 2008

Credibility matters

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. And the more I think about it, the more I am convinced about it. It has got to do with credibility of an individual. I am increasingly beginning to believe that this is the one attribute of a human being's personality that can make or break a large part of his life.

All of us work exceptionally hard to make a career and try and reach out highest aspirations. Dreams are no longer just dreams as people have begun to find ways to realise those dreams. A vast majority of our pursuits in life have tended to become extremely materialistic. That, is more a function of the opportunities that our generation is providing us with, more than anything else.

But, in between all this, I am quite convinced that the few who go far in life are folks who are not only self-driven, but are people with a high sense of self-esteem and credibility. Why is it that a Bjorn Borg, despite going bankrupt after his tennis career, returned to Centre Court Wimbledon and handed out the trophy to Federer (when the latter equalled Borg's record?). Why and how is an Amitabh Bachann revered even in the twilight of his career? Why are folks such as Dr. Singh and the like looked upon so highly? Why is Kotler the last word in marketing? Why is Peter Drucker still the guru of management? How is it that we have only one Warren Buffet? And surprise, surprise, why have we never managed to create more Tendulkars?

Maybe, I am getting biased by the famous people that all of us know. However, if I were to stop for a minute and think of people who would make more sense in the context of my life - I find many such people. You know, people with courage of conviction, sticking their neck out, being respected for their achievements, and people with immense credibility. And I know quite a few senior citizens, who once held positions of power, and are STILL sought after for the expert opinion etc. Their pedigree is not a function of their age or of the Indian tradition of respecting older folks. These are people who genuinely have credibility. I know a chartered accountant with 25 years experience, who still calls up a retired corporate banker from a public sector bank asking for his opinion on valuation, finance. I know a very, very, senior MP who once told this same corporate banker that his word is good enough if the bank cannot give his firm a loan. I also know a GM of a public sector bank who once told the MD of the same bank, that if this gentleman had refused a loan, he would not override that decision. IF that is not credibility, what else is!

Look at the new found respect for Ratan Tata - the Nano is just the ammunition or the tool. The bigger picture is his vision, his credibility, his courage of conviction, his dream for all of us and his dream that might inspire many of us to dream bigger. Also, why is it that people do not ever associate any unethical behaviour by the Tata group? Credibility, is my humble guess!

And the point is, we have many such people - bankers, industrialists, consultants, accountants, lawyers etc. But, not too many of them enjoy credibility. If a person makes a name for himself, that might be the easier part of his journey; the toughest part is to systematically reinforce it to himself & stakeholders concerned, that he did not make it to his position/place, just like that. That needs serious credibility. People do get found out in no time; the one big differentiator and key ingredient that can help a person (even if he is not financially well 0ff - say Borg after his retirement!), is keeping his/her name intact. The value of a person’s credibility and goodwill is beyond measurement. I am happy that I have learnt this so early in my life! Might as well be remembered as a good human being who stood for his/her own values in life (rather than as a poor, middle-class or rich guy or whatever – with all the transient materialistic bliss).

As they say in cricket, take care of the runs; the dollars will take care of themselves. I might just risk saying, take care of your beliefs and self-esteem; everything else follows. Nothing else is more important – losing one’s name is more damaging than going bankrupt.

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