by Jana Rucker
The irony of this story on dependability is that it was actually submitted late, and I didn’t even notify the editor that it was going to be late (I intended to). She had to ask for status the day after the deadline. Not very dependable, eh? The truth is, dependability isn’t about perfection; it’s about getting the job done and done well. (And yes, within a reasonable timeframe and with appropriate status updates.) This is much like how consistency can be a very good thing when you get consistently good results but not so good when you get consistently mediocre - or worse - results. This makes me think of a restaurant analogy I often use: are you the fast-food-pizza-chain-consistent (it’s mediocre pizza, but it’s fast), or are you Chick-fil-A fast-food-consistent — you get consistently good chicken AND fast service (even if once in awhile it’s not perfect). Can you be depended on in a fast pizza or Chick-fil-A way?
For the purposes of this article, we will discuss positive (Chick-fil-A) dependability, of course. Dependability consists of the obvious traits of willingness, skill, punctuality, tenacity, and consistency. And it’s not just about not being a slacker. There’s an element of choice and an element of trust involved.
You’re likely familiar with the C3 equation: character (mindset) + competence (skillset) = consistency. This means consistently making the choice to use your skills to perform well. This develops trust.
Choice is the human aspect of dependability. Think of “reliability” as inherent design. Like how cars are described as reliable: based on the probability that the design will continue to function as expected. Reliable cars don’t have choices, reliable humans do — that’s dependability. Ability you can depend upon. A person with the skillset and all the talent in the world for a given job can still choose not to show up. Consistently choosing to show up and do a job well creates the trust element of dependability. Because of their consistent mindset and skillset for the work, they are trustworthy. If (and when) they do fail, they immediately address the deficiency and demonstrate their competence and consistency by choosing to deliver even in the aftermath of failure.
The C3 equation is like any other math equation; if you change one of the variables, you get a very different result. Remove competence and have only character; you likely end up with someone who “means well” or wants to but can’t get the job done without the skillset. On the flip side, remove character and have only competence; you have the plot of most Marvel movies — an evil genius with a power or invention that they use to destroy the world instead of save it.
The truly dependable person takes their responsibility deeper and has a greater concern for the overall good of the community. It’s not just about winning, conquering the world, or even being the best.
This particular story may have hopped from fast food to cars to movies - but you get the idea. The rest of the story is (obviously) since you are reading it, it was apparently submitted before the publication deadline. The editor did not have to ask me again, she knew that I would deliver as usual because I did give further status updates, and she still trusts me because I demonstrated my dependability even after an imperfection. That’s “good” dependable.