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What My Brother’s Dad Taught Me About Business (#2)

April 24, 2015

He’s your half brother.

No he’s not! He’s my whole brother!

Kids who are five years old understand the concept of brothers. They understand the concept of half. They do not understand the concept of half brothers. 

Some of my earliest memories are of my brother’s dad. My brother is four years younger than I am. His dad taught me to ride a bike. More importantly, he taught me to ride a motorcycle. Okay, it was a minibike. Basically a bicycle with a lawnmower engine. I remember paiting our house. My parents painted it dark green with light green trim. As a five year old, I wanted to paint it the other opposite. 

Strange as it seems, the lesson that stayed with me the most strongly had to do with gumballs. 

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My brother’s dad had a box of them in the garage. The box was about 9″ square in my 45 year old memory. There must have been hundreds of gumballs. I was five, my older brother was seven. The perfect age to be getting into stuff. No matter where he hid that box of gumballs, there is a good chance we were going to find it. 

We didn’t get into it. We never snuck even a single gumball. We couldn’t. He would know.

I’ve got them all counted. I’ll know if you take even a single  one.

I believed him. Of course I believed him. I was five. But, there was a lesson there. It’s tempting to say the lesson is

If you are going to tell a lie, make it a big one.

I’ve thought of that, but it doesn’t really work. If you lie, people will find out. And once you’ve been caught lying it takes a really long time to rebuild the lost trust. 

Don’t lie in business. Just don’t do it. . .ever. 

No, the lesson that I took away was,

Trust people and they will earn that trust. 

Because he did trust us. I don’t remember him going to extraordinary lengths to hide the gumballs. But, I also know that we never went looking for them. I know now, as a fifty year old man that he trusted that five year old boy. And at least in the case of the gumballs, his trust was justified.

One of my business rules, in fact the most important business rule of my Sixteen Management Rules That Make No Sense: Is In The Absence Of Orders Attack. It is predicated on the premise of trust; trusting people to do the right thing. . .especially when no one is watching. 

It’s a lesson I first learned from my brother’s dad. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 

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