The hidden ‘R’ that helps us Do.

Do Contribute | Social Entrepreneur

If you want to turn your dreams into tangible achievements, the likelihood of success is often dependent on the simple, commonly overlooked value of being RELIABLE.

Being reliable involves discipline and commitment, showing up and doing.

Reliability is commonly defined as…

  • Trustworthiness (i.e dependability), and
  • Consistent Performance (i.e. professionalism).

Sounds pretty grown up, but being reliable doesn’t mean being boring. And being responsible, disciplined and committed, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it!

In fact, the sooner you incorporate the value of reliability into your life, the sooner you get to do what you imagine in your most amazing dreams.

Before we dive in, a heads up: there are lots of selfs and selves being bandied about here, so try not to lose yourself, ok?

You as Ruler of Self.

We start by showing up reliably for ourselves. When we know and trust who we are, we have better control of our actions. Which gives us the confidence and courage to show up for others with compassion and integrity.

Self-sovereignty incorporates three domains — self-knowledge, self-care and self-discipline. If managed well, each helps us to function as reliable, well-adjusted humans (most of the time).

1) Self-Knowledge

Emotional Intelligence (or EQ), a concept made popular by psychologist Daniel Goleman, is based on our ability to pay attention to ourselves, and notice more about the people and things in our environment.

Knowing ourselves includes:

  • embracing our self-worth
  • understanding and accepting our strengths and weaknesses
  • being aware of how our thoughts and feelings affect our behaviour
  • guiding our actions based on our values (instead of thoughts/feelings)

When we have a good awareness of self, a strong presence of mind, and healthy self-management tendencies, we have a greater degree of psychological flexibility.

“In everyday language, psychological flexibility means holding our own thoughts and emotions a bit more lightly, and acting on longer term values rather than short term impulses, thoughts and feelings.”
— Ref: Working with ACT

Developing our EQ can make us more adaptable, improve our social awareness and help us be more empathic.

So, knowing what makes you tick means you can rely on YOU. And others can then rely on you too.

2) Self-Care

Apart from breathing properly (a non-negotiable), our self-care fundamentals are sleep, nutrition, movement and focus. They’re interlinked — whatever impacts on one aspect, affects the others. If we build a reliable foundation of self-care, we strengthen our ability to perform well and have more consistent interactions.

Healthy Sleep Habits set us up for “showing up” reliably
“Be as disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. Sleep affects every waking moment of your day.”
Maria Popova, Do Lectures USA 2014

We know this and yet… just how often do we consume stimulants at the wrong times or do another screen scroll before bed? Or, do too many days of too little sleep, and the repercussions are far reaching. Stress and diet play obvious parts too. Like I said, it’s all connected.

Nutrition is the power smoothie in our self-care pack

Being conscious and responsible about what we ingest not only improves our gut health, it charges up our mental and physical performance too.

Ever had a “hangry” head-biting snap at your coworker due to missed meals? And next time your mind is petulantly yelling “I need doughnuts”, weigh up how the sugar hangover is going to affect your mood and reliability later on. If you have young kids (or access to them), you’ll especially relate to these unreliable responses!

Our bodies are built for Movement

Evolution didn’t factor in “long hours seated” becoming such an unhealthy norm.

Our body is our partner. It’s the framework that carries us through life and we need to be able to rely on it. To build physical strength and resilience, connect with your body’s natural movement abilities more regularly.

This means more than a morning run or gym session. Set a timer to get up from your desk every 30 minutes. And do a few stretches and power poses every time you wait for the kettle to boil. “It works!” she booms (hands on hips WonderWoman-style).

Focus is our fourth fundamental super power

Doing focused deep work — regularly — is now a prerequisite of our noisy, distracted digital workplace. Can you see the disconnect there? As Maria points out in her talk, we need to build more “pockets of stillness” into our lives.

If you’re struggling with getting into the zone, try out digital minimalism. Or exercise your focus muscles with mindfulness, meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques. (There’s apps for this too). Good for deep work, but also great for managing busy minds, anxious or negative thoughts, and low moods.

3) Self-Discipline

Developing a strong work ethic requires reliability.

“The simple persistent practice of showing up is the thing upon which any significant body of work depends.”
Maria Popova, Do Lectures 2014

Persistent practice equals being disciplined and following through. Putting in the work consistently. Just like a professional. (Read Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” for further instruction on what’s involved).

Being a Pro means we accept responsibility for both ourselves and what we put out there. When we take responsibility, we can control how we interpret and respond to our often uncontrollable environment. The key is separating the situation from our response to it. (Read Mark Manson’s Ebook “Self-Knowledge” for more on responsibility).

The Enemy of Reliability is Resistance.

Building consistent, reliable rituals around our work practice, helps keep internal resistance at bay and opens the door to inspiration. Learning to trust ourselves, despite what other people think, helps us to deal with external resistance too.

“Be prepared to confront your self-sabotage daily on an ever-altering playing field. The goal is not victory (success comes by itself), but to handle yourself as sturdily and steadily as possible.”
Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”

In Maria’s Do Lectures Talk, she also touches on the idea of creating reliable rhythms in our life to help us to fill our cup with more of what we want to enjoy.

We don’t just jump from A to Amazing.

It takes practice and preparation. If we’re practising being who we really want to be through the act of doing, then we close the gap between the two more quickly.

Our behaviour then becomes a reliable reflection of our best self.

“We experience joy, enthusiasm and happiness when what we’re capable of being matches what we actually are being.”
Brian Johnson, sharing thoughts on living optimally

So, see every day as a practice session for activating your potential and actually living the life you dream of.

If you make reliability part of your foundation for how you DO everything, you facilitate becoming a better YOU.

Being reliable also leads to another “R” worthy of our attention.

Becoming REMARKABLE … and that is something certainly worth doing too.


Mich Bondesio

Social Entrepreneur

Mich Bondesio

Curious about connection, communication, design, learning, wellbeing and potential. Sharing thoughts on doing life and business better in our digital world.

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Illustration by Tanya Griffiths