Build These 7 Core Strengths To Gain Credibility

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Our Perspectives Today Are Different

Credibility is still as critical to relationships and success as ever. Perhaps, at a time when misinformation and hidden agendas loom large, showing a constant presence in media, credibility may now be in higher demand.

We know credibility is an outcome of our past behavior. It’s our track record of actions and words over time that has demonstrated to others the nature of our character and the limits of our competence. This is how people determine our believability.

Successfully building (and sometimes re-building) and sustaining credibility requires focus on important but not always urgent knowledge and skills. The 9 core strengths we write about today aren’t new. But, the way we think about them evolves and can take different shapes as we continue learning and building knowledge across generations.

The perspective we share on these strengths, which include Strategy, Continuous Learning, Self-Awareness, Self-Mastery, Communication, Purpose and Follow-Through, may confirm your thinking or affect it. I hope it’s unexpected.

None of these Strengths establishes credibility in itself, but collectively, they are a force in driving it.

The purpose of this article is to provide a glimpse into these strengths, a glimpse that resonates with you. Because, when something resonates with us, we want to dig deeper and explore its depths. With that in mind, we’re creating a map of sorts with 7 key navigation points; our intention is to inspire readers to navigate as you choose, in the direction of credibility.


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There are aspects of Strategy that I discovered are especially fun to know. I’ll start there, with three of these:

  1. How people think about strategy has its roots in Game Theory.
  2. Whenever there are at least two players, a game exists.
  3. There are two types of games, Infinite Games and Finite Games.

In Finite games all the players are known, they have established, agreed-upon rules, and there is an objective to the game that, when achieved, ends the game. By design, there are winners and losers. Sports such as baseball and football are examples finite games.

In Infinite games we do not know all the players. They haven’t all agreed on a set of rules, so players can choose how they’ll play. And, there is no designated end to the game because the objective is to keep playing. Businesses and competitors are examples of infinite games.

We cannot choose the game that’s in play. We cannot choose the rules. We can choose whether or not to join a game. And, if we decide to join, we can choose how we’ll play; we decide whether we’ll play with a finite or infinite mindset.

The video below by Simon Sinek explains Game Theory and how it applies to business strategy, strategic thinking and strategic decision making.

But Infinite and Finite games, and The Infinite and Finite mindsets are not limited to business strategy. If you take a moment or two to think about it, it’s likely you’ll see ways in which these have been part of your life and relationships both at work and outside work. And, you’ll see the impact.

Simon Sinek explains the difference between The Infinite Game and Mindset and Finite Game and Mindset in this video from YouTube: (Note: clicking this link will take you out of this site)

Simon Sinek – The Infinite Game – LINK:

Simon Sinek — The Infinite Game — LINK:

There’s good news for us in understanding this. What is the good news? It’s this: we can learn and re-shape our existing mindset. We can change the way we think by seizing opportunities one by one to play a game differently. And, while it’s a challenge, it’s also enlightening, and it’s fun.

There are many dimensions to Strategy. To make Strategy a strength requires us to identify knowledge and skills to study, learn and practice. Will you choose this as a step to build and broaden your strategic capabilities?

Continuous Learning

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There are times in life that we’re so busy dealing with demands on us and urgent issues that the idea of continuous learning can seem so tedious we decide it can and should wait. There are pressures and tugs on our time, so we often trade off learning for those other things.

But, it doesn’t have to be like this. We don’t have to choose one or the other. We can make a decision to spend a few minutes at a time learning in ways that make it fun to do, provide us with time to practice, make the content memorable and make the effort satisfying. We can make it easy to fit in. And, we can make it last.

I’ll go a step further and declare that we can also find benefit in learning new things that aren’t work-related! Learning itself does so much to enrich our lives. Learning tones the brain, keeps us thinking, increases our ability to change and grow, shows us we can keep learning and retaining, broadens our interests as well as providing new ways to connect and share with other people. Do you see how this can contribute to our credibility both with ourselves and others?

Here’s an example. In doing research for this article, I came upon a website with a video about the 7 Masters of Art History. I was about to set it aside for more directly related content, but I stopped myself and watched the video. Then I spent a few minutes fact-finding and learned that these individuals each had a powerful sense of purpose that sparked their creativity, their desire to learn and find new ways of doing things. It fueled their energy. It broadened their abilities. I got excited about this. It turned out to be a good fit with Credibility after all.

To my point, learning about the 7 Masters of Art History is fun. I ended up spending 5 minutes a day to learn more about them and to committing them to memory. And, I’m still talking about it, as you can see.

I’m sharing the video with a sense you may find it enjoyable to watch and take away the value it provides, somewhat indirectly, for building credibility. If you decide to look for and seize learning for the sake of learning, for fun, you’ll have taken something of benefit from this moment.

“From Durer to Picasso: Seven Masters of Art History”

2 Sources: via AND

Apart from learning about the 7 Masters of Art History, there are other small ways we can find enjoyment in learning. When we learn, it changes us. Human beings are programmed to apply what learn and this adds dimension to life. It also helps us develop our capacity to manage personal change and to broaden our perspective so we see things anew. Some ideas to jumpstart this activity include the following:

  • Subscribe to lots of different newsletters, in subjects you’ve bypassed in the past. For example, I started reading newsletters on science, history, and archaeology. Did I keep all my subscriptions? No. But I have a short list I like.
  • Read a business book a month, a few minutes a day. Schedule this as a new habit.
  • Listen to different types music, to books or podcasts during your commute. Afterward, spend 2–5 minutes taking notes on what you want to remember about them.

And, next time your organization offers work related training, jump into it with both feet. Remember this article as a reminder that learning and its associated change are basic needs in life and to leave these opportunities on the side of the road is is making a much bigger sacrifice than it may initially appear.


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To have credibility with ourselves and with others, we must recognize both our strengths and our weaknesses. Weaknesses are opportunities to continue to build our capabilities and our ability to make the impact we want to make.

In addition to helping us to stay humble, admitting to our weaknesses is the first step in building knowledge and expertise that makes us better and better at what we do and how we do it. Self-Awareness is a necessary ingredient for our growth, improvement and change.

The starting point for building Self-Awareness is understanding the way you think–your mindset. There are two primary mindsets: The Growth Mindset and the Fixed Mindset. Our recent newsletter provides a concise overview; click this link to read it (note, using the link, you’ll leave this web page) — LINK:

Following are three tools you may decide to check out as you determine ways you might assess and build your Self-Awareness (Note: using these links will take you out of this webpage)

There are also self-assessments that can help you to measure your knowledge and application of certain specific, job-related skills and knowledge. Following are three examples. (Note: Using the links below will take you away from this webpage.)

Self-Awareness is key to developing self-mastery, another of the 7 strengths.


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Self-Mastery is about achieving a special level of proficiency. It’s a discipline of continuously clarifying our Purpose. It’s approaching work and life as a masterpiece that we are creating, one that rests on a foundation of self-awareness coupled with continuous learning.

Self-mastery requires us to use our self-awareness to deliberately influence our ways of thinking, decisions and actions to better align them with our purpose; to reach our potential.

It includes understanding our mindsets, especially self-limiting mindsets or mental models.

People who have high levels of Self-Mastery are on a life-long quest for learning. Mastery doesn’t happen in workshops or during training sessions. It requires ongoing effort, training and practice that we integrate into our lives. It’s a deeper learning that we seek, a learning that can enable us to create the results in life that matter to us.

Mastery does not come from learning to do the easy things superbly, however. It comes from learning to overcome the setbacks that occur in the process. Mastery comes from patience and persistence.” — Credibility – How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It,” by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

What will be your next area(s) of focus on your path to Self-Mastery?


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Communication’s greatest value is connecting people, providing ties that bind us. Without enough effective, two-way communication trust is lost. And, without trust, credibility is lost. Strength in Communication includes a wide entire array of people skills. Giving and accepting feedback, self-regulation, sharing information, listening, and transparency are priority elements of this strength.

Framing and re-framing are integral to communicating in ways that people understand your intended messaging. Getting to know your audiences can help you to understand their perspectives as well as their mindsets, two factors that impact their interpretation of your words and actions.

Relationships are shaped by communication. Emotions are impacted. People cannot be over-skilled or over-trained or over-practiced in communication. You’re always communicating, even when you say nothing, through body language, what you don’t say, the words you choose, and the tone of your voice. And, chances are, if you believe you’re communicating effectively and often enough, you may still be falling short in some ways, sometimes.

It’s worthwhile to check in with people one-on-one to enable dialog that can overcome communication gaps and prevent or solve misunderstandings.


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Character and Competence form the keystone of Credibility. An essential element of Competence is Follow-Through, which is demonstrated by intensity of focus, unifying people in a shared direction, achieving results, outcomes, performance goals and impact; and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Our performance results include keeping promises and commitments, getting the right things done, and establishing a reputation for producing.

But, it’s not only about what we do. How we do what we do, and why we do what we do, matter. If we are to be successful in Follow-Through, we must act with character. Without character, our performance results in loss of trust and sacrifices credibility along the way.


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Purpose is at the center of our lives, defining what we bring to the world, and shaping decisions we make throughout each day. Did you know that only 25%-30% of adults have established their Purpose?

Without being able to have faith in yourself, to have full knowledge that you are credible, believable and trustworthy, it’s not likely others will be convinced. It all begins with you, your authentic self.

A strong sense of purpose acts as our own personal north star, providing direction and reminding us of what matters to us. It enables us to navigate through both good times and times of adversity. Our Purpose can enable us to more easily and confidently make decisions and choices.

When our job is congruent with our Purpose, we love working. We find more meaning in what we do. We are highly invested and engaged. It is visible in our performance at work and in feelings of fulfillment that light a spark we take with us where-ever we go, in and outside work.

Knowing our Purpose provides us with guideposts such as values, that define what we believe is important for you to do in life as well as the way in which you do things. Your Purpose sets a context for setting priorities and is the source of your dreams for the future. It’s about the way you want your life to turn out. Living in alignment with our Purpose energizes us to keep making progress and provides fulfillment. It shapes our true character and can foster our credibility.

Our Purpose is rooted in our past, deeply ingrained through life experiences that have established our beliefs and desired pathways to self-fulfillment. People can be unaware of their Purpose, because it’s living in the sub-conscious and hasn’t yet been flushed out clearly enough to put words to it.

It’s important to identify, because until someone knows his/her own Purpose, it’s not possible to act in ways that deliberately align with it. We can be happy for periods of time without being fulfilled or passionate. Sometimes people spend their lives without experiencing the fulfillment and passion in our work or personal lives that is possible and that we all deserve.

For Purpose to become a strength, it’s needs to be clarified. Using the inside-out approach will help to determine your Purpose as an individual, as a partner in personal relationships; and in your work and your organization. If you desire and it fits, you can also find your Purpose in further reaches of your world, such as in your industry or geography.

This process requires asking ourselves some targeted questions and being objective and honest in our responses. To determine your Purpose, or “your why,” per Simon Sinek, you’ll need one or more uninterrupted blocks of time alone or, if it’s helpful, time with a partner who understands and supports what you’re working to accomplish.

If you decide to work with a partner, it’s best to choose someone who can be objective, open and honest with you. It’s often either a coach, or a friend who hasn’t heard your stories about your past or been part of them. You’ll be looking back, reflecting on memories and prior decisions and choices, to help you make connections that can reveal your purpose, as an individual, in your life.

Following is a selection of written, audio and video tools you can use to discover and put your Purpose into words.

  • With a little on-line searching, you’ll find this book is also available in paperback, audio CD, audio book formats from a variety of providers.

Following are videos by Simon Sinek that help to clarify the activity and benefit of finding your Purpose from the perspective of the individual, the leader, and the organization. There’s a large collection on YouTube and TED.

How To Live Your Why Video by Simon Sinek


How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek



In a study commenced in 1997 by the Rush Memory and Aging Project, it has been determined that having a strong sense of purpose also affects our health. In comparing patients who said they have a sense of purpose with patients who said they don’t have one, findings reveal indicate those with purpose are:

• 2.5 times more likely to be free of dementia

• 22 percent less likely to exhibit risk factors for stroke

• 52 percent less likely to have experienced a stroke

Other studies have shown that approximately 70% of adults have not identified a clear sense of purpose for themselves.

What’s Next?

We’ve jumped into Credibility with a definition, and identified 7 core strengths to help build, re-build and sustain it.

Please comment below to let us know what you think of this article and share both your opinions and suggestions for our improvement.

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  1. Terri Lynn says:

    Excellent, and encouraging. Very informative.


  2. Not bad at all; please keep it up!


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