The Work-life Takeaway from Lochte's "200-Meter Credibility Event"

Nothing will derail your professional career faster than a lack of credibility in how you conduct business and work with others.

Nothing will derail your professional career faster than a lack of credibility in how you conduct business and work with others.

People are tired of hearing the story. It’s blown out of proportion some say. The media needs to move on. I agree in some respect. Most of us aren't in the spotlight when we screw up. Our transgressions aren't on international display. When Lochte’s story was initially questioned, people asked, why would he lie?  You’re kidding, right? Why would he lie?  I can make a long list, and they all fall under the category of “he was doing something he shouldn't have been doing". Why does anybody lie? It happens. If you haven't had your turn yet, get in line. Say it’s never going to happen to you and you can probably move to the front of said line.  So, what do Lochte and the trio’s frivolous pit stop have to do with work life? Since I'm Your Office Mom, let me tell you.

You may be tempted to lie to cover up bad behavior,  your lack of judgment, or because you failed to follow through on a work commitment. Don’t. But, if you do, own up to it quickly. Apologize, accept the consequences and make things right from the other party’s perspective (not your own) so everyone involved can move on.  And when I say own up to it quickly,  I mean before people discover you're lying.  When there’s evidence that you lied, (witnesses and video, for example) but you continue to perpetuate the deceit despite the evidence, you’re compounding the problem. Had Lochte come clean sooner this would have been over sooner.  And, if you don’t know how to approach any given situation, seek an experienced confidante who can coach and advise you.

Nothing will derail your career faster than a lack of credibility. If your peers, direct reports or your clients don’t trust you, they can’t rely on you, and that's a problem.  Make excuses, distort the truth, blame others and you’re screwed. Lie to save yourself while throwing others under the bus and your character is called into question, plus you lose a little bit of your soul along the way.

And, people never, ever lie to your mother and tell her you have been robbed at gunpoint in another country and expect her to keep her mouth shut. That’s what sad about this. Lochte lied to his momma and didn't own it when asked by the media.

Today we saw Lochte compete in what I'm calling his "200-Meter Credibility" with a pseudo-apology via social media.  I don't know about you, but I was disappointed by his performance in this opening heat. He may need a new coach, because whoever wrote that needs coaching.  Hey, I have some pointers, and I’m available.  I would tell Ryan what I would tell any other young professional. Step up and take responsibility.  No one needs a tarnished image. Perception is everything as you'll see in CNN's article Ryan Lochte's apology statement: The full text vs. the subtext. I'm certain this isn't over.  Whether he steps up and owns this debacle remains to be seen.

Regardless, you know not to lie, right? But if you lie, come clean. Don't blame. Don't make excuses.  Own your deceit and your behavior. That builds character. That wins the Gold.

For more insight on how to handle work related screw-ups, read my other post on the subject Okay you screwed up...