Throughout my career I have encountered many people in the business world: Some are honest and good, and some are not. The most important thing to recognize is this – when someone shows you who they are through their actions and their behavior – BELIEVE THEM! If someone has shown a track record of honesty and integrity then you can trust them. If someone has shown a track record of cutting corners, telling untruths, making one excuse after another for dropping the ball on their commitments, finding ways to cheat or take advantage of others – RUN AWAY!!! As far and as fast as you possibly can.
Why run away you ask? Because if you choose to spend a significant amount of your time around someone who lacks integrity you will ultimately find yourself heading down that very same path…little by little…until one day you will look in the mirror and find that you have become just like that person you are spending your time with.
My father taught me from a young age that when you lie down with dogs you get fleas. There is no avoiding it. His words really impacted me. We had a dog growing up and I remember well when it had fleas and anyone who spent time near our dog would end up with flea bites all over their legs – just because they had been in the presence of our dog. The people around the dog had done nothing wrong, other than they made the choice to stand near the dog – that is all it took – that choice. So seeing that firsthand made my father’s words extremely powerful imagery for me because I had seen what he was talking about firsthand. That is the very reason why I never allow myself to get close to anyone who I can’t respect and look up to, in either my personal life or my professional life.
In the earliest stages of my career there were times I forgot my father’s words and I allowed myself to do business with people who I saw lacking integrity toward others. I would justify it to myself saying “Even though I have seen them be dishonest with others, surely they would never do that to me.” That was a slippery slope and sure enough those same people took advantage of me just the way I had seen them do the same to so many other people before me. This time I was painfully reminded of my father’s words.
From that point forward I made the commitment to only get close to people who had shown by their behavior and their actions that they were people of integrity. I surrounded myself with honest lawyers, honest employees, honest investors, honest clients, honest partners, and the results were nothing short of spectacular. Not only did we have tremendous business success but we kept our integrity every step of the way. And that is how I define true success.
Life is too short to justify working closely with someone who lacks integrity. Don’t fall into the trap of justifying their bad behavior by telling yourself “surely they would never do that to me” because I can promise you the day will come when that is exactly what they will do. They have fleas and if you lie down with them you will inevitably get them too.
Choose your friends and your business associates wisely. If you look around and see yourself going to work everyday with people you don’t want to become like, then perhaps its time to change jobs. We become like those people we choose to associate with, so when those people show you who they are, don’t make excuses for them or justify their behavior…believe them when they show you who they are.
Have an amazing Friday everyone! I am on the set filming the new TV show tomorrow…here’s hoping for fantastic makeup artists and soft lighting to help hide my wrinkles 🙂