A story goes of two childhood friends who were enlisted in the army together. War broke out and the two friends were fighting in the same unit. One night during an ambush, Harry heard his friend Bill calling out to him for help.
Harry asked his captain to allow him to go save his friend. The captain refused since he was running short of men and moreover, Bill sounded as if he was not going to make it.
Harry kept quiet. Again the voice came, “Harry, please come and help me.” Again and again the voice came. Harry couldn’t contain himself any longer and told the captain, “Captain, this is my childhood buddy. I have to go and help.”
The captain reluctantly let him go. Harry crawled through the darkness and dragged Bill back into the trench but he passed on moments later. The captain got angry and shouted at Harry, “Didn’t I tell you he was not going to make it? He is dead, you could have been killed and I could have lost a hand. That was a mistake.” But Harry calmly replied, “Captain, I did the right thing. When I reached Bill he was still alive and his last words were, “Harry, I knew you would come.”
And that brings us to the crux of the matter: how many of your friends, family or colleagues can truly say, ‘I knew you would come’? Do you consider yourself reliable? Can people count on you?
As human beings, we have a profound need to know how others will behave in order to feel secure. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, security comes in second after physiological needs. We want security of body, of employment, of morality, of the family, of resources, of health and so on and so forth.
Reliability is thus an admirable quality that we should all endeavour to acquire so that those around us can feel safe. Consider a doctor who is about to perform a major operation on a patient. While the patient’s first hope might be on God, he has also entrusted his life in the hands of the doctor.
The onus is thus upon the doctor to do his best and save his patient. At the workplace, supervisors and employees find it easy to work with reliable people, people who complete assigned tasks on time and who try everything within their means to ensure the company’s goals and objectives are attained.
One of the greatest life’s achievements is earning the respect of those around you and the surefire way to earn this respect is by demonstrating that you are someone who can be relied upon.
And reliability does not just begin and end with keeping promises or showing up on time; no, it also involves being faithful with the much that has been entrusted to you. If someone confides in you, then let it end with you. Own up to your mistakes and try to practice honesty at all times.
We may, at times, become inadvertently unreliable. For example, you may promise to deliver something, which may be beyond your means but since you really need that job or affirmation, you give unrealistic expectations.
At the end of the day, you will not deliver on the job and you would have bruised relations. It is therefore imperative to manage expectations as inflated expectations will not only lead to humongous disappointments, but also damage your reputation.
Reliable people believe in the maxim, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” When working in a team project, remember that your teammates are counting on you to do the project, and do it well.