Sep 2007 Character Quality -- Dependability
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
Major Davie, a stern, yet concerned expression on his face, tucked dispatch papers into the
inner pocket of a young carrier.  An officer in the Revolutionary War, he knew the tendencies of
many other boys who rode dispatches for him.  However, Andy was different.  He was barely
fourteen years old, yet he believed in his duty to his cause.

“All right, orderly, Captain Skinner needs these dispatches by morning.  You have twenty miles
to cover – and most of that in enemy territory.  Now if something happens...” “I’ll memorize them
and eat them before anybody gets to me!” Andy replied impulsively.  Major Davie smiled.  “You
do that.  I’m depending on you, young man.”  The orderly smiled, saluted, and set off in the
twilight; his only companion a seasoned mare and an old revolver somebody had lent him.  By
morning, Captain Skinner received the messages and took action accordingly.  In time, the
Revolutionary War ended, and Andy returned home with his mother and brother.  However, he
did not stay home for long.  His country’s battles kept calling him to different fronts.  He fought in
the Indian Wars for several years and emerged the victorious hero during the War of 1812.  In
1828, Andrew Jackson became the seventh president of the United States of America.  

What made President Jackson so successful?  In a word, he was dependable.  He fulfilled what
he consented to do even if it meant unexpected sacrifice.  This is the meaning dependability.  
We cannot build dependability overnight, but we can take necessary steps to begin that building

First, we should be careful what we promise.  What we commit to do, we should do.  Therefore,
we cannot afford to promise something unless we are sure that we can fulfill it.  A part of that is
clarifying what others expect us to do.  We should ask them, “What I hear you saying is...”  
Misunderstandings abound when we do not intentionally open up the communication lines.  
After we have found out what others expect of us, we need to buckle down and get the job
done.  Good intentions are just that – intentions.  Take the initiative to start, work through, and
finish that assignment.  

Finally, our attitudes are contagious.  If we whine and complain about our work, others around
us will grow disheartened and discouraged. However, if we jump in feet first, both hands busy,
and encourage others through it, the job suddenly becomes doable.  “Without a vision, the
people perish.”

People depend on us, no matter what level our job may be.  Our position may be minor in the
eyes of a CEO, but where would the CEO be without the secretary?  Where would the president
of restaurant chain be without his janitors?  Where would the police chief be without his police
force?  Just as every bolt in the Brooklyn Bridge keeps it usable, every one of us holds a job of
major importance no matter what it is.  Let us endeavor to be dependable so that we will not
encumber others by our lack.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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