What is the currency that takes years to gather but can be gone in a second, without the purchase of anything? What can be used worldwide without the need for local exchange, and can give you access to opportunities and money, even if you don’t have a single dollar to your name?
That currency is credibility.
Credibility is more powerful than a bottomless bank account. It fosters respect and is a large driver behind social status and power.
No matter the situation, credibility is a valuable commodity. If you are a manager at work, credibility leads your employees to follow you, supporting your goals and vision. In the community, it causes people to support your cause and volunteer without the need for any direct payment.
Your credibility is ultimately belief in you. Belief in your ideas, that you will accomplish your goals and that you will do what you say you are going to do.
While we all can see the large number of benefits for having credibility, the most appropriate question is, how do you build your own credibility?
While many writers out there tout the 10 ways to do this or the 101 ways to do that, there is really only 1 way to develop credibility; only one single (and simple) way to tap into all the benefits that a sense of credibility brings.
Credibility is created by following through on commitments.
This follow-through comes in all shapes and sizes; from making big promises and delivering on them to following through on the little things, all adding up to (or detract from) your credibility. Credibility is built on trust. In fact, trust is the main ingredient of every recipe for credibility.
While doing what you say you are going to do appears to be a simple and easy thing to do, it is far from trivial and is something that a vast majority of us struggle with. Because of a variety of reasons from wanting to boost our ego, to desiring to please others, even to the necessity to prove a point, we promise many things. From committing to be home in the evening by a certain time, to attaining a certain level or results at work, our mouths say things that reality can’t always support (even when the intentions are honorable).
The remedy is easy: be both careful and mindful of what you promise. Make your promise something of value by not abusing its use. Only promise things that are important to you and that you are confident you can do. Then resist the temptation to compete against others in what you commit to; always under promise and over deliver. Credible people let their actions and results speak for themselves.
Remember that credibility builds on itself. In the same way that small mistakes can lead to large ones, small commitments build to larger ones, ultimately increasing the credibility in your account. We all know that credibility is fragile as well, so remember to take it slow; credibility creation is a process.
Practice by committing to something small and promising only yourself you will do it. From there, expand who you commit things to and the magnitude of what you commit to. Before you know it, you will have a high enough level of credibility that people will support you in reaching your goals and give you opportunities that you normally wouldn’t have if you hadn’t taken the time to build trust through your follow-through.
Don’t underestimate the power of credibility. Instead, harness it’s power and use it to reach your goals no matter what your industry, company or role is; both within your professional life and your personal one. As humans today, we are all many things and our journeys will take us down a great many paths. Remember that an absence of credibility will erect obstacles wherever we go, while earned credibility will open a great many doors.
Aaron McDaniel is the founder of multiple ventures one that successfully sold in 2012. In 2012 he wrote, The YoungProfessional’s Guide to the Working World, and The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing in 2013, both part of a book series focused on helping young professionals build the foundation for successful career. As an active member of the National Speakers Association, Aaron continues to share strategies for success having spoken at many universities and to young professionals at top companies like Wells Fargo and UnitedHealth Group.