Your greatest asset

Julie’s interview was outstanding. She was bright,
articulate and full of enthusiasm over the possibility of joining my team.
Although she was relatively
young, her resume was quite
impressive. Her first job out of
college had allowed her to
lead major projects, all of
which ended successfully, and
now she was ready for a new
challenge. The decision to hire
her was an easy one.

Early on, Julie surprisingly
struggled with the projects
assigned to her, but she
worked hard and soon
proved she could do the job.
At the end of her first year, I
was preparing to offer her a
promotion into a leadership
role — one that would bring
her increased responsibilities as well as increased
income. It was a promotion she had earned but
would never receive.

At this same time, I happened to meet an executive from Julie’s former
company, and I asked if he
knew her, mentioning how
well she had done as a project manager on my team. I
reminded him of the projects
she had led at his company
and the results described in
her resume. Slowly, a look of
recognition and concern
spread across his face.

“I hate to tell you this, but
Julie didn’t lead any of those
projects,” he said. “She was a
member of the team, but the
leadership role as well as
recognition for the results
belongs to someone else.”

He shook his head sadly and
said, “I’m sorry.” And so was I.

By the end of that day,
Julie was no longer an
employee of my company.
She tearfully explained that she had lied on her resume,
expanding the description of
her former role in order to be
given the chance to lead
major projects — something
she knew she could do.

Tragically, Julie was right.
She was a fine project manager. But in manipulating her
way into the position, Julie
made a devastatingly bad
decision: She assumed that
her talent and skills were the
only requirements and that
once they were evident,
nothing else would matter.

In the process, she damaged
her greatest asset: her character.

Throughout your career —
and your life — you will be
faced with the temptation to
take shortcuts, to ignore
your values in order to get
something you want. In the
pressure of the moment, the
compromise can seem small
and unlikely to be discovered, while the job or the
promotion feels like the
most important thing in your
life. Trust me, it’s not.

The next time you are faced
with a decision like this, there
are two things you must

Ultimately, the truth is
always revealed.
You need
only reflect on today’s news
for ample evidence that the
truth about a person or a situation is ultimately known.
But whether the actual facts
are made public or the people around you simply sense
the inconsistencies between your image and your actions,
your character is evident.

Whenever you make a decision, imagine yourself explaining every aspect of it to someone whom you respect. If you
can feel proud of what you did
and why you did it, it’s likely
to be the right choice. This
simple test would have saved
Julie immeasurable pain and

No aspect of your job is
worth compromising your
I’ve often wondered how Julie felt each day
in her role, knowing she had
lied to get it. I imagine she was
always afraid that somehow,
someone would find out. I’ll
never know the price she paid
in worry and lost energy, but I
will never forget the anguish
on her face when she realized
everything she had lost. In that
moment, she would have given
anything to go back and make
a different choice.

Build your character on
integrity. It’s the foundation
of everything that really matters in your life, whether it’s
your career, your relationships or your inner sense of
who you are.

Every choice to do what’s
right, every decision to
speak a difficult truth and
every action taken with
integrity, even when no one’s
watching, strengthens your
character. Through the
strength of your character
and the choices you make,
you will determine both your
destiny and your legacy.

JIM HULING is CEO of MATRIX Resources Inc., an IT services company that has achieved industry-leading financial growth while receiving numerous national, regional and local awards for its values-based
culture and other work-life balance programs. The company was recently named one of the 25 Best Small
Companies to Work for in America for the third year in a row by the Great Place to Work Institute and the
Society for Human Resource Management. Huling is also the author of “Choose Your Life!” — a powerful,
proven method for creating the life you want. Reach him at [email protected].

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