It was a day in the 1970s that a little girl named Jane walked down to Duckwalls Dime Store to buy some candy. When paying for the greatly anticipated treat, the clerk said Jane was a penny short. The clerk said it would be okay --- just this one time.
Jane, being a conscientious little girl, took the candy and hurried home to get the penny. Within minutes she was on her way back to Duckwalls to repay her debt. Jane wanted to do the right thing.
What’s the big deal? It was only a penny. The big deal is Jane has principles and sticks to them. She believes in doing the right thing in everything she does. I know this for a fact because she has worked with me at the BBB for 18 years.
What can all of us learn from Jane? I believe it is understanding that we are accountable for our actions -- we must take responsibility for everything we do. This is getting to be a foreign thought in our country. It is always easier to blame someone else or tell yourself the situation isn’t important. It’s okay as long as you get by with it. This kind of thinking is not healthy for an individual or a company.
We all make mistakes, even Jane. The key is to correct the mistake the best you can. If it involves people and means making an apology, do it and move on. Remind yourself you aren’t perfect and you will make mistakes. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t doing enough things.
If it involves making something right with a customer, fix it as quickly as possible. After working with upset customers for years, it is obvious to me that the longer a problem festers, the more positioned or entrenched the upset person becomes the harder it will be to fix the problem.
That goes for customers, too. Don’t expect a business to be excited about making a situation right if you have waited months to bring it to the business’ attention.
Whether you owe someone money or an apology or you need to fix the problem, the easiest thing to do in the long run is to do what is right and do it right away. Many times it may seem embarrassing, awkward, or expensive, but the result will be that you feel good about taking responsibility for your actions.
How are you feeling about our culture? Do you think more people need to stick to the principle of doing the right thing in one’s personal and professional world?