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To earn respect and be worthy of following, you need two qualities that really matter.

The first is conviction:

Conviction is a set-in-concrete belief that you live by and refuse to compromise on. A pragmatist adjusts his or her beliefs and actions to things like the bottom line, or not making waves, or being liked and accepted. A man or woman of conviction won’t do that. Early one morning, Scottish philosopher and religious sceptic David Hume was observed hurrying to hear evangelist George Whitefield. When asked if he really believed what the great evangelist preached, Hume replied, ‘Certainly not! But he does, and I want to hear a man who truly believes what he says!’ Author Larry Phillips said: ‘There’s a noticeable difference between steel and tin – especially when hit. Genuine heartfelt convictions simply come across as “words of steel”. There’s a determined resolve in the tone…We need to be reminded that we can’t fake convictions! People will always discern the difference between words of steel and the sound of tin – no matter how hard the tin is hit!’

People know the difference between your core values and your intellectual concepts. If you don’t have a deep conviction about what you’re saying, why should they?

The second quality you must exhibit in dealing with others is: credibility.

When people trust you they’ll listen to you. In the early stages of the relationship, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as long as your credentials are good. But in order to maintain their trust, you must demonstrate credibility [reliability, integrity, sincerity].

It’s been said that the mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, but the great teacher demonstrates. Ultimately, each of us should strive to be the message. In the first six months of a relationship we focus on a person’s communication ability in order to make judgments about him or her. For example, when we have a new boss who speaks well and casts a compelling vision, we buy in. When we connect well with a new neighbour or co-worker, we feel we may have a new friend. When we meet the person we end up marrying, we think everything will always be wonderful. And for most people the honeymoon is wonderful. But after the honeymoon comes the marriage! Sometimes that too is wonderful, and sometimes it’s not.

What makes the difference? Credibility!

Here’s how it works in relationships: during the first six months communication overrides credibility. After six months credibility overrides communication. When a person is credible, the longer the time, the better it gets. But for someone who lacks credibility, the longer the time, the worse it gets.

Credibility is like money: with it, you’re solvent; without it, you’re bankrupt. The truth is: with the passage of time the way you live far outweighs the words you use.