Every one of us gets up in the morning and wishes to do something good, useful, and productive. Have you come across people who actually want to do harm, damage, and the like day after day? If there are such persons, they must be few and far between.

So the start of the day is mostly positive and filled with forward looking thoughts. That is how it ought to be, otherwise we wouldn’t be making the kind of progress we are experiencing around us.

The issue is one of consistency. Consider the cycle of events. We get excited by a concept, an idea, or an act. We silently resolve to take it further. Normally, such thoughts come to us when we are busy doing something else. Habitually, by the time we have completed doing whatever it was that we were doing, the idea or concept vanishes, and we are left scratching our heads wondering what it was that was so exciting.

Things get more complicated when we share our intentions with others. Statements like ‘I am going to write a book next year, ‘I am going to give all my old clothes to the Salvation Army are heard by others and filed away. Sooner or later, when those who heard your proclamations notice that you didn’t follow up on them, they treat you with less respect. Your credibility has been tarnished.

Credibility means keeping one’s word. It is simply a function of how believable a person is. It is a measure of a person’s character. How does one go about building credibility? Here are some suggestions:

Identify credible people

Think of a person (at home, work, club) who you have admired for his / her reliability. Why do you admire him? How does he manage to keep his word? Observe that person closely, watch how he goes about fulfilling his commitments. Shadow this person. Go and talk to him. Most, perhaps all, credible people will be willing to sit down and talk to you. They may not all be able to explicitly tell you about their internal responses to credible living, but they will certainly be able to give you valuable insights into how they view their responsibilities, and how they go about fulfilling them. It is a great lesson to learn.

Be consistent

Consistency is the hallmark of integrity. The people you deal with must feel that you don’t change colors like the chameleon from one situation to another, or display different behavior in front of different people.

Consistency requires courage. There will be several occasions when your courage and sincerity will be tested. These are the moments in life when the good are distinguishable from the great. The great take the challenge head on, demonstrate courage, and stick to the right thing.

People who posses the fine quality of consistency are unaffected by those who surround them.

Be committed

Credible people are inspired by challenging commitment to every thing they do, in this regards they are warriors not mercenaries of life. Their courage comes from their commitment to their cause thus they can always find the courage to face the odds.

Courage comes from commitment. If you are really committed to a cause, you will find the courage to face the odds. Take Nelson Mandela. He was committed, so he found the courage to remain sane and calm in spite of twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

He was frequently offered personal benefits by the white government officials to give up his crusade. He refused every time. That was commitment.

Be empathetic

Credibility builds up quite easily when you are truly concerned about others. Empathy means putting yourself in the other person’s place, and imagining the consequences of a particular action. Since we are all humans, we pretty much have similar needs at a certain level. We all have a need for love, caring, friendship, esteem, and hope.

Empathy comes from knowing that I am strong from within and don’t have to hurt others to let them know. True strength is derived from showing genuine care and concern for others, particularly when you have the upper hand. One great example of this quality is Nelson Mandela. After being treated so monstrously for so long, he demonstrated a degree of compassion few humans have been able to do. He simply forgave those who perpetrated death, violence, and injustice against a whole nation on the foolish basis of skin pigmentation.

The real beauty of Mandela’s greatness surfaced when he came out of prison, became President of the Republic of South Africa, and from that towering seat of power, chose to show no rancour towards the people who had caused so much personal suffering for him. He simply forgave them. That was true empathy. His credibility did not suffer even when his ex-wife was accused of shady dealings. Such is the mesmerism of empathy. Sadly, so many of us mistake empathy for weakness.

Don’t try to be what you are not

We often try to project ourselves as someone else. This can’t work, because we will get found out. We cannot fool all the people all the time. Also, God has made each one of us quite uniquely. Just look at yourself. How many people share the same physical features that you possess? By the same token, few people share the same intrinsic capabilities you possess. And there is enough space on this earth for a few more like you!

So stop trying to be what you are not. Instead, start focusing on what you are, what your strengths are, and what you can do with them. Your discovery will amaze you. It will give you the inner drive to project what and who you really are. Your credibility will go up by leaps and bounds, because you are projecting what you genuinely are.

Share your fears

We often choose to keep our fears to ourselves. When this happens, the fears tend to grow in our minds. The imagination plays tricks with us, and we are often paralysed. Don’t let this happen to you. It is normal for humans to feel afraid. When you feel afraid of something, share it with one or two close allies. This is not a sign of weakness. The trick lies in knowing a couple of people whose integrity and genuine concern for you will help them make you feel better after you have shared your fears with them.

Some questions to ask

Here are some questions to ask when building your credibility:

Would it worry me if my actions were made public?

If I were to hear this about another person who I hold respect, how would I feel about him or her?

What is the worst outcome possible if I were to keep my word?

The truth is that humanity cannot enjoy any real progress unless there are enough credible people on this earth. After all, the world runs on faith and trust. Read what is written on the currency bills in your wallet – even that is nothing without credibility and trust. When that trust is shaken, there is a run on the currency!

Finally, remember the story of the boy who cried wolf. Once your credibility is in question, you have a Himalayan task rebuilding it. Your credibility is a bit like a Chinese flower vase. It is exquisite, and admired by all. Drop it, and it is virtually impossible to reconstruct it.

Build your credibility, and then protect it like your life depended upon it, because it does.