Debt as an enabler of action

“A Lannister always pays his debts.”

That is a common saying from a very powerful family from a very popular fiction series (now HBO TV series).

Debt has always been used in somewhat a negative connotation espousing burden, obligation and at times insolvency. These at times are correct and warranted; but to see the other side of things I offer the view that debt is a commitment that can enable value-creating actions.

Debt is a commitment between you and your counterparty. Between you and yourself. Yourself and your word. While I realize that this may be an over-dramatization of the concept; but think about it for a second, outside the realm of legalities borne out of the Obligations and Contracts law, or the financial instruments (debt instruments) definition from accounting and or finance. Debt at its core is a commitment. It’s an enduring concept that at some point there is something that will be due. And that “thing” which will be due, will have to be paid, fulfilled (or in some cases restructured).

Action. Motion. Value creation.

Owing to the concept that a debt has to be paid, this will now result to productive-value-creating actions. Actions that will now put into motion a set of activities that will eventually lead to that debt being paid; the commitment being fulfilled. And every fulfillment of an obligation creates a ripple effect of value being created. Value that in turn creates opportunities and hope. Hope that we can be better off today than yesterday; with the prospect of growth tomorrow.

Sampaloc Lake (San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines) photo by the author

“Paying all your dues” is a concept I’ve learned (the hard way) around 17 years ago. It’s something I remind myself during the countless times I’ve cycled through trying and failing and trying again. It’s a lesson that told me, there are no shortcuts, no freebies and certainly no reason to be afraid to fail in the pursuit of excellence. It’s a commitment that has solidified my belief that tomorrow is a new day and you’re given another opportunity to do better.

Always pay your dues, stay positive and see you at work!


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