“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’ . . .” – Matthew 5:37
Dan Sullivan in his book How the Best Get Better describes what he calls the four habits of common decency. (1) Show up on time; (2) Do what you say you’re going to do; (3) Finish what you start; and (4) Say please and thank you. I’ve often thought that if a young person embarking on a new career were to ask for my advice I would first encourage that person to strive for excellence at his or her chosen profession, becoming the best they can be. Then, and of equal importance, I would share with them Dan Sullivan’s four habits of common decency and advise that they focus on developing those habits. Why? Because all else being equal, it is character that will be the tipping point in the level of one’s success, besides being the right thing to do.
I’m reminded of the story about a young family from my small northwest Texas hometown who like many folks in that part of the state during the mid-1950’s found themselves burdened with debt and struggling to make ends meet due to a severe and extended drought. This family along with others was ultimately forced to move away for better paying jobs and more promising opportunities. When they left town it seemed they owed one of the local grocers a large sum of money on their grocery bill which they were unable to pay. But rather than just walking away from the debt, they instead went to the grocer and promised to settle the account as soon as they got back on their feet. Sure enough true to their word they did indeed over time repay the debt, every penny. Eventually they not only got back on their feet but actually grew to become rather prosperous in their new life.
The importance of character should never be underestimated in our respective endeavors. And while there is always a need for people who are excellent at what they do, there is an even greater demand for competent people who happen to be of good character, who do the right things for the right reasons – like: Show up on time; Do what you say you’re going to do; Finish what you start; Say please and thank you. Or as scripture tells us, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’” . . . like the example of the young couple who repaid their debt to the grocer, doing what they said they were going to do.