Have you ever been the victim of a credit thief – someone who takes wide sweeping credit for things they did not actually do, and then they try to use that as a platform to create other opportunities. So essentially, they misrepresent what they have done and try to get more work based on that created perception. The reason you are the victim is because what they are stealing is credit for your work.
I don’t know if I have ever stolen credit, but I can tell you that if I have, it was not intentional, therefore I’m not sure I actually stole it or was assigned it? There are situations where people give you credit when you didn’t deserve it or earn it. Sort of – credit by association or assumption, but that isn’t the same as stealing, well, not in my book anyhow.
Stealing credit is when you knowingly take credit for something that you did not do, did not create, did not dream up, and did not make happen. You lead people to believe or you let people believe that you are the champion of that work product when you are indeed, not. That is a credit thief.
The Olympics is a great example, they are so big and so multifaceted that unless you have worked within one or an event of similar scope, you probably can’t really grasp what its all about. So in fairness, when someone assigns you credit for the Olympics or a department in the Olympics, it could be because people make things mean what they want or need them to mean. And when people don’t really know what you do they fill in the gaps based on what information they gather, assume, hear, or read. Right? Right.
A credit thief is intentional in misrepresenting what they actually did or what they contributed when something has gone well. They are also quick to assign blame when things do not go well. If they are ‘assigned’ the credit, and do nothing to correct it, that is another form of intentional theft. A solid sign of maturity and leadership is to set the record straight when someone gives you credit when it is not due.
If you want credit for something, then actually do the something you want credit for. Stealing credit makes no sense to me because, and this may sound a bit Oprah-ish, when you do not live authentically the voice in your head is focused on reminding you of your fraud, over and over again. And, you will get caught, eventually. And then your credibility is tanked because you didn’t do the right thing. You didn’t correct the error in credit and someone else subsequently did, or you misrepresented yourself and couldn’t deliver what you led everyone to believe you could, or you delivered it in a way that showed the obvious – you are not who you said you were.
Maybe it is laziness? Maybe it is a lack of time? Maybe it’s the easy road. I don’t know.
What I do know is that the amount of effort and care that goes into producing good work is not easy. It maybe a labour of love, but it certainly is not easy. It may look easy, but if it does, it is only because they are skilled and they care about what it looks like, or sounds like, or feels like. And they care because they take pride in their work and in mastering their skills. They take pride in the challenge of creating good work because it is not easy. You are not meant to be good at everything so don’t steal the credit from others who are good at that particular thing. Go find your own thing.
The people I know who are good at things, really good at things, have spent a considerable amount of time doing those things to become really good at them. There is always an innate talent that forms the foundation, but that talent must be nurtured and fed. Ask any high calibre athlete why they train, and train, and train. Ask any Olympic Gold Medalist if it was easy.
It matters when you work for something and when you earn something. It matters to you, as a person – for your ego, for your mental health, for your self-view. Every time you take credit for something you did not do it cracks your foundation, and that crack will fester and erode the very thing it was designed to support. Every time you correct misassigned credit, you become stronger and so does your reputation. Every time you get credit for really good work, your motivation to do more, learn more, and be more, is ignited.
For those thieves out there – don’t steal you own chance at being really good at something. Don’t steal a shot at your own earned credit.
For the victims out there – don’t give up good work because of the thieves. Continue to do it better and continue to expect the victory. If they take credit, don’t give them your satisfaction too.