The Most Important Lesson I Ever Learned

My Mother has the best moral compass of anyone I’ve ever met.

She’s a lawyer who believes strongly in the Christian faith and I will be forever grateful for the sense of right and wrong that she has instilled in to me as I grew up.

During my childhood I did a lot of foolish things which my Mother was not too pleased about, however there is one occasion I vividly remember where she was more upset and disappointed in me than she had ever been.

It was this day I learned perhaps arguably the most important lesson in life and in business.

It was the summer holiday and two friends stopped by to go out on a bike ride. Leaving the house my Mother said to me… “You can only go if you promise to wear your helmet”. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I duly agreed.

At that time, I naively and stupidly thought that wearing a helmet wasn’t the ‘cool thing to do’, (I now wouldn’t go near a bike, skis or anything similar without one) and as we turned the corner past the house I took my helmet off and clipped it behind my saddle.

For whatever reason, soon after we doubled back past my house and I thought nothing of it. But the moment I returned home I knew instantly that I was in big trouble.

Having seen us all ride past on that second time around, my Mother was furious at me, not because I’d taken a risk in not wearing one, it was because I had given her my word and broken it.

I knew I had done something seriously wrong.

Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how growing up his Father taught him that in business “your word is your bond” and in my industry of content creation, although we often have contracts in place, a lot of business is done in good faith often without documents to specify certain agreements.

And I’ve seen over the past decade the most successful employers and freelancers are those who keep their word.

Having integrity is tough. It’s probably why it’s such a widely respected trait. What’s more, on most occasions maintaining your integrity is often the harder decision to make.

Maybe you’ve committed to helping out a friend or finishing a piece of work by a certain deadline and all of a sudden it’s become the less attractive option and following through on your promise means you have to sacrifice another opportunity or time that you really don’t want to.

But in the end, my intuition says that you’ll always be glad that you kept true to your word. Trust can’t be built overnight, but it can most definitely be lost.

My intuition says that integrity is by far the most valuable asset any person or business can have.

So remember, your integrity is all you have and I wish you every success.