In late August 1942, I prepared to enter the first grade at Church Street Elementary School. in East Point, GA  My mother made new shirts and bought me new denim overalls.  Getting ready for school also required a lunch box, a raincoat, and a new pair of shoes.

Mother took me to the Buster Brown Shoe Store in downtown Atlanta for new shoes.  She selected a pair of brown leather high top, lace-up, Brogans with rubber soles and heels.  They were miniature versions of the shoes all of the men in my family wore working in the cotton fields.

I was proud of those shoes.  One new pair of shoes per year was the limit in my non-wealthy family. None of us children wore shoes in the summer.

I remember the first day it rained after getting those new shoes.  Some of the kids had been teasing me, saying I was wearing “farm-worker” shoes to school.  Most of them wore high-top cloth Keds sneakers.  

I wanted to prove to my friends once and for all that my leather Brogans were better than their cloth sneakers. I knew I could prove my argument: cloth sneakers would leak and their feet get wet but my Brogans were water-proof.

The first rainy day gave me the opportunity I was looking for to conduct a test that would prove my Brogans were leak-proof.

During the half-mile walk home from school, I stepped in every water puddle I found along the way.  Even though I did not know it at the time, that day I invented a Principle of Creative Followership – Never Assume What You Can Verify.  I wanted to be certain my shoes did not leak.  They did not.

I was very pleased. The next day at school the sneaker-wearers would be convinced. Brogans were better than sneakers!

And, I had invented a Principle of Creative Followership.

To say that my mother was not interested in me winning the debate or inventing Principles of Creative Followership would be a gross understatement.

During my career, the practice of this principle saved my reputation many times.  There were hundreds of times my boss at Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, asked me, “Are you sure?”  I always wanted to be prepared to answer, “Yes!”

Nothing makes you look as foolish, careless, and unprepared as advocating a position or action you could have verified—but chose not to—and it turns out you were dead wrong.   There are many situations where information is vague or nonexistent and can’t be verified or time is not available for verification; therefore, always verify when verification is possible.

If you can verify something, do it!

Never Assume What You Can Verify

The practice of this principle will enhance your career and protect your reputation.

— Jimmy Collins

My book, Creative Followership is available on Amazon,  http://a.co/gu8jeFE

My latest book,  Jimmy’s Stories is available on Amazon. http://a.co/5wfFRaK

Signed and personalized books are available on Biblo.com

Creative Followership;  http://www.bibliocom/book/creative-followership-signed-jimmy=collins/d/1242065835

Jimmy’s Stories;  http://www.biblio.com/book/jimmys-stories-signed-jimmy-collins/d/1242065914