Some time ago a colleague emailed to inform he was unable to attend an event. (I’ll call him Joe). He was ill and was sure I’d understand. He was a man I liked, he seems to tick the right boxes. Big smile. Big heart, kind and generous. There was no doubting his integrity. So, I accepted his reason not to attend the event.
During a conversation with another colleague, I was informed that Joe had enjoyed a busy day at another event. ‘That was the same weekend as our event’ I commented. ‘Yes, Ian no doubt he was there, I spoke to him’.
My heart sank: We offered nothing but respect and encouragement to Joe. Liz and I had praised his goods and spoken to our own customers about the quality and usefulness of the products. I respected him, there seemed every reason to trust and help him with his business.
I am too old to be angry or surprised by people not fulfilling obligations. We have all at some time let people down, all made poor excuses. Who am I to judge? Those without sin, cast the first stone. And yet, I think back to the last time I had lied to excuse myself from a situation or obligation. Do you know? I believed the last time was almost a decade ago.
The feeling of disappointment in Joe is total. There is also an uncomfortable feeling that my misjudgement may affect decisions and choices, where strangers are involved. If my assessment of another person is this far out, there is a need to take extra care in the future.
Trust is hard won and quickly and permanently lost. A mutual trust could be likened to a credit score. Once damaged, the interest rate climbs, even worse, a friend asks ‘what do you think of Joe?’ The answer ‘he deceived me’. Another domino falls in the chain reaction of falling reputation.
Once the deception is made, the game is over. Of course, Joe has done much damage to himself. To my mind, you must fulfil an obligation, no matter what the cost. And if there are reasons to break a contract, one must accept, the truth must always be the reason for the breach.
‘Ian, I am exhibiting with another organiser’ – That was Joe’s truth. And do you know? I would have respected Joes honesty. I would not have liked the fact, I would have accepted it and moved on. My attitude is to forgive and look to the future, I would have done my utmost to make my organisation more accessible to Joe.
My sadness is for Joe. He has let himself down, he placed money before reputation. Believe me, when I write a good reputation can never be made with cash. Good standing is the seed of success and wealth. People talk about a humans reputation, it is like a shining light which opens the gates to the gardens of happiness.
This essay is a cathartic exercise. A release, a reminder to myself, never to let people down. There is no concern for Joe’s deceit, he is another memory, another lesson.
I wish him well, he’ll never read this essay.
The line is drawn: I do not need Joe in my world.