My Word is My Bond

I grew up in the Midwest, land of wheat and corn, lazy summer days by the pond, sleds and skis in the winter. As I watched men interact with each other, I learned one thing: the handshake of an honest man is worth more than any written contract any day. As I moved into my career, I was blessed to meet a group of brilliant engineers during my work with the InteropNet at the gigantic Interop trade show. These men and women were the best of the best, elite network engineers at the top of their game. We worked at the bleeding edge of technology, expecting -- knowing really -- that things would go wrong and we would fix them. As a result, engineers from competitive companies often worked together to fix interoperability issues (that is, after all, where "Interop" originated). This team was the Interop NOC team (NOC stands for Network Operations Center), and to this day they remain among my best friends and among those I respect the most in the world.

As a team, we operated under the "NOC moral NDA," an unwritten agreement that was stronger than any written word could make it. When we work together even now, years later, a simple, "this is under NOC NDA" is all we need to be assured of confidentiality. It's unquestionable. Take it to the bank, it's trustworthy.

Unfortunately, this is increasingly rare in the world today. It seems that many people are comfortable telling "half-truths" (which is another word for "lies"), breaking promises, breaching confidentiality, and generally playing roughshod with integrity. Regardless of any excuses that perpetrators may offer for this kind of behavior, it's all dishonest. And done once, it means that the perpetrator can no longer be trusted with any commitment, promise, or communication.

I don't think the short-term benefit of such a strategy is worth the long-term loss.

For your part, what does it cost for youth give up your integrity?

When dealing with others, I think Ronald Regan's strategy is the best I've heard:


...but verify.