Good reliable and bad reliable


It’s your lucky day! You won the prize drawing: the Good Fairy of Sustainable Business Practices has offered you a free half-hour session. Amidst lots of other sensible advice she says, “And remember, be reliable. Reliability is the basis of trust.”

You start nodding energetically and make a vow: you’re gonna become the most reliable son-of-a-gun ever.

Whenever you make a commitment you immediately add it to your calendars (you’ve got two, just for extra redundancy) and you meet those appointments, no matter what. You’ve had sessions on a cruise liner. You’ve ducked out of every personal event as the business dictates (one time you had to leave a funeral service to make a call). You wake up at 4am to chat with people in different timezones. You never have a day off. You gotta be reliable!

Then you receive a call from the Good Fairy of Sustainable Business Practices asking you what the giddy hell you’re doing.

“I’m being reliable, Good Fairy,” you say. “Like you told me.”

“Woah woah woah woah,” she replies. “I want people to be able to rely on you to deliver a quality result. You’re burning yourself out, you’re ignoring your loved ones, and you’re tired most of the time. People can rely on you to turn up, sure. But no-one in their right mind is confident you’ll deliver magnificent value. There is good reliable and bad reliable. And right now, you’re being the wrong one.”

“Oh. Shit. You’re right.”

So you reorganise.

Days off become carefully guarded; you never have appointments after 6. You build in rest breaks and times to goof off and play Tekken with your daughter. You can feel yourself bringing more focus and power to every part of your work. Word starts getting around that you always, always deliver.

That Good Fairy sure is smart.

Are you listening to her?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Hryck.

  • Brilliant as always. And so what I needed to read right now as I move towards a month of gentle rebalancing.

    • I love how often I pick up on stuff that’s floating around in my peep’s heads (and lives) and produce useful! It is the best feeling ever.

  • Totally agree. And I think you’ve made an important distinction here. Reliable *can* mean always being available, but I think the second definition of reliable — the one that says reliable relative to delivering quality work — is WAY more important. Unfortunately, I suspect most people have to learn the difference the hard way.

    Kind of reminds me of people who say they’ll have X done by Y date and when Y rolls around (and X *isn’t* done), they don’t bother to let you know. No, they just hope that if they don’t say anything, nothing bad will happen. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that people would generally rather be told of the delay up front rather than not be told at all. I know I would. So, how does this relate to your post? I equate people who stand up and say something is going to be late with the folks who understand that reliable doesn’t mean available 24/7/365. Both probably have to be learned and both require people to put their foot down, so to speak, about what’s happening and when.

    • Fantastic point, Jodi. Especially problematic are the people who say yes when they know they can’t deliver on time.

  • I try to balance it this way: When I say I’ll do something – I’ll DO it. But, I carefully weigh what I commit to and make sure I can deliver before saying so.

    Another word to describe it is professional.

  • Oh, Goodness YES!!!

    Had a very powerful, unpleasant-yet-ultimately-useful reminder of that ’round about the beginning of November.

    I’ve made SOOOOO much more progress since.

    Now to learn how to blend the two – reliability & quality.

    • This is why I no longer work on weekends or post every day.

  • shimin

    a good relable is a
    1) choose a question to ansewed.
    2)create a hygpothesisthat my experiment will prove
    3) carefully plan how i will conduct on investigation.
    so that’s what i called good relable facts.