Credibility really is the coin of the realm…
The word “credit” comes from the Latin word that means “to believe.” The crisis in America and for 300 million Americans is the lack of credit, the lack of credibility, and the lack of confidence that has rocked our nation to the very core. (Frank Luntz, What Americans Really Want…Really).
I’ve been thinking a lot about credibility lately. You can use a few more words to describe this rare and great trait: trustworthiness, reliability. You know the concept – a person, a company makes a claim. The request is: “trust me.” And then the claim turns out to be not quite what was promised. You are disappointed, and the company/individual loses credibility. Credibility lost is really, really hard to restore. And there is a lot of credibility that has been lost in the current era.
I thought of that as I watched the 60 Minutes interview with Andre Agassi. He has written an autobiography, Open: An Autobiography, and Katie Couric interviewed him in just the right way, allowing him to tell his story, with no holds barred. It was filled with very open admissions and confession. He hated tennis (to some extent, still hates tennis). He wore hair weaves, and was scared to death that one would fall off in mid-tournament (and his hair was definitely part of his persona, his “brand”). He took crystal meth for the better part of a year, and lied about it.
And he was denied the possibility of a good education by a significantly overly-demanding dad. His dad demanded a tennis career, and pushed him away from everything else, including education. This is partly why he has done such a terrific job in providing education for students (he established a successful/impressive school in Las Vegas) in his post-competitive tennis life.
I knew little about his story. I’m a big believer in second chances, and I finished the interview thinking that here was an example of credibility lost, credibility regained. But I also ssaw again that when there is no openness, credibility is one of the casualties. Openness is one of the critical pieces in building, and/or regaining credibility.
Rick Reilly (voted National Sportswriter of the Year eleven times) recently wrote about Agassi and his new book. Here are a couple of excerpts:
This is Agassi’s mea culpa — “Open” (from Knopf, written with Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer) — and from the beginning, he and Moehringer set out to write the most revealing, literate and toes-stompingly honest sports autobiography in history. From the parts I’ve been allowed to read, they might have done it.
Why is Agassi so scorchingly honest in these excerpts? Maybe because he once lived enough lies for five men. Or maybe because, as an educator, he’s heard the truth can set him free.
But hopefully, by the time you close “Open,” you’ll know that this book is about more than the wrong turns he took. It’s about how that broken road led him straight to the good man he is now.
Credibility – openness – honesty. These are very good traits to aim for and live out in this very uncertain and suspicious era.