The McGirr Law Blog

Read the latest law news here

What’s the return on your investment of being Trustworthy? Can you be trusted?

What’s the return on your investment of being Trustworthy? Can you be trusted?

  • September 10th, 2020
  • Cheryl McGirr
  • Comments Off on What’s the return on your investment of being Trustworthy? Can you be trusted?

What does it mean to be trustworthy? I read a story the other day about Teddy Roosevelt. Frankly, and especially in light of my topic today, I don’t know whether it is an absolutely true story. But, it rings true and makes a good point.

Whether or not you can be called trustworthy relies on whether or not you may be called truthful. Teddy Roosevelt was a cattle rancher (in addition to being many other things, including our President). The story goes that he and a new cowhand were riding across a section of his land when they crossed a yearling from a neighboring ranch that was not branded. As was Mr. Roosevelt’s custom, he instructed his cowhand to brand the calf with his neighbor’s brand. The man replied, “All right Boss. I know my business.” And then he began to brand the calf with Roosevelt’s brand. Roosevelt stopped him and said, “wait a minute–you’re putting on my brand.” The man replied, “I always put on the Boss’s brand.” Roosevelt told him to go back and get his time as he was letting him go. The man exclaimed, “What for?!” Roosevelt told him, “My friend, if you will steal for me, you will steal from me.” Roosevelt knew this–one who steals for you is a thief, and thieves will still from you when the occasion arises for them to do so. The same is true for one who lies. One who lies for you will lie to you.

People cannot tolerate a liar. They likely fear the liar will lie to them or about them. It feels dark. And it is dark, and it has a price. As Michael Josephson said, “Honesty doesn’t always pay, but dishonesty always costs.” This is never more true than in our justice system.

I read a story that in court one day the prosecuting attorney raised his voice at a boy who had spent the last twenty minutes on the witness stand and exclaimed, “Be honest, son. Your dad told you what to say in court, didn’t he?” The boy replied, “Yes sir, he did.” The lawyer gleefully thought he had snared the kid. “Okay, son, what did he tell you to say?” Humbly, the boy said, “He told me, ‘Son, just tell the truth, and you need only say the same thing over and over when questioned.’”

I love that story. Mark Twain wrote, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” You don’t have to worry that you told one person “this”and another person “that”. Just state what is to everyone. It simplifies life a lot!

In my business, I deal with all kinds of people and often with people who usually have something they would prefer to conceal. But what people need to realize is that we are ALL human. We have all done things we wish we hadn’t. What we need to realize is that by owning our bad choices and mistakes, we allow those around us to actually breathe a sigh of relief. When we tell the truth–what is, not what we want it to be–it allows the listener to believe that we are trustworthy–even when we have lied in the past. When you start making a habit of telling the truth, it changes you; it changes your relationships. And as the old saying goes, it sets you free.

Make a choice today to be trustworthy. You will not regret it.