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Knowledge Centre  –  Category: Ethics
Delivering the Goods:
Keeping Your Word In a World
Which Often Doesn't

Perhaps I'm just getting crochety. Then again, maybe not.

First, I'm hardly old enough to be in the "crochety" class. And secondly, I've been feeling this way for about 30 years.

My complaint? Delivering the goods. Or the lack thereof.

Growing up, one of the things stressed in my family had to do with keeping your word. When you said you would do something, promised to make good on something, you did it. Or made every good effort to do so. Mostly, you delivered the goods. You showed up on time. Made the return phone call. Produced what you'd promised. Kept your word.

Occasionally, circumstances simply worked totally against you and it turned out that what you'd promised wasn't possible. Still, you did all you could to bring about the pledged result.

And if you didn't?

Feeling Badly And Your Personal Integrity

You felt badly, really badly. Not keeping your word was a very serious thing. Not because others thought so, but because it was the essence of your own personal integrity.

And what is integrity? It means "wholeness," something complete in itself. And having it and living by it means that you become trusted by others. They can count on you. They know you'll deliver the goods.

So when you truly were not able to do so, despite every effort you made to keep your word, you were personally wounded. It wasn't so much that you'd let others down; you'd let yourself down. You felt badly, sometimes for a long while in serious cases. You didn't just forget it and prate on about your self esteem or how tough things were. You knew you'd screwed up.

Different Fish

And today?

Today is a very different kettle of fish, I'm sad to say. Nowadays, delivering the goods all too often deals with written contracts and getting away with only what is written down...if that. It seems to be about cutting corners, avoiding any commitment, personal or otherwise, finding ways to deliver less than what was promised, fooling the other guy. And laughing when you get away with it.

Not Giving A Damn

It's about not caring about the other side of the contract and the effects you create when you don't keep your word. It's about irresponsibility, a casual attitude and a sense that too many people simply don't give a damn.

Does any of this sound familiar? Met too many folks like this lately? Been screwed in some deals? Didn't get what you paid for? Discovered there had been some surprises in the small print?

Change Is Coming

Probably won't make you feel a whole lot better, but the times they are 'achangin. We're beginning to see the return of that older version of ethics and integrity.

Why?

The internet.

"How come?" you might ask.

Because of both distance and anonymity. What we're seeing in the way of business on the internet today is an unbelievably tiny increment of what is to come. Eventually, Trillions (yep, with a big "T") of business will be done this way. Already you're dealing with people whom you've never - and will never - see, with whom you don't actually speak, in many instances. They may be in other cities, other territories and, often, in other countries. Those who will prosper will be those who deliver the goods, keep their word, make good on their promises. The others will quickly lose their lustre. The internet is quick to let you know when a phony is running around, when quality is poor, when the "deal" isn't being kept.

And personally?

Relationships are being built in a new way. People in chat rooms and in email are often revealing more to people whom they've never met than they would have, in past years, to spouses.

Does it work?

Sometimes. Apparently, some good relationships are being created, marriages taking place, perhaps families being raised. Too soon to tell how this may work.

Even Here The Lies Continue

But already I've seen signs of the lack of delivering the goods, even in this area. Dates are made. One person doesn't show up. Photos are exchanged. One person sends a friend's photo, perhaps someone more attractive. It's lying. Failing to keep one's word.

It won't do.

The World's Glue

The civilized world is held together with concepts. These are expressed by words and deeds. As one writer, living in a small town in France, said, "Most of life is governed, not by laws written by legislatures, but by invisible rules of order. They are written down nowhere, but respected almost universally."

If your words and deeds don't deliver the goods, you will eventually be shunned. No matter the wealth or station in life you attain, you'll be known by whether you deliver the goods.

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Last Updated: September 19, 2017.
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