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Why Your Credentials Matter

Updated on September 28, 2012

You will understand better why your credentials matter when you can understand this ancient maxim:

“If you don’t have the official position, you cannot plan the affairs of government” ~Analects 8:14

A professor of mine often used the phrase “getting to the table” as it pertains to a basic success in life, knowledge, or career that allows one to experience a measure of actualization. I believe the expression and the ancient dictum above spoken by Confucius go hand-in-hand and draw attention to the importance of credentials.

No credential is of itself important because those who endeavor to achieve do not settle merely for the notches they gain. It is not enough to earn a degree or receive an accolade but rather to own the right to decide. Credentials are those marks that give witness to one’s expertise and signal to others that one possesses the fitness necessary for a task, for authority is not often granted to novices.

It is the official position, however, that is the goal. To sit at the table of decision to plan and act on behalf of others is an honor and should be seen as such. Moreover, as much as our credentials tell the story of our learning and seat us amongst other leaders, they also demand the purity and integrity of our leadership, at least in Eastern thought. Thus, credentials help to make us leaders, but our duty becomes to lead righteously.

What The Best Education in the World Means

So, contrary to our oft-clueless college students and their undeclared status or liberal arts-basic BA frame of mind in universities today, it is crucially important for one to go big in his or her studies and career moves. In fact, it’s getting tougher not to do so. You see, now having the right credentials is equally as important as having any at all. Online career searches leave no question that unless one is skilled in certain fields of knowledge, it will be very difficult for that person to find any work hardly worth the degree earned.

My nephew once attended a summer enrichment program at a major university law school. I was intrigued by his excitement and what useful and insightful information he acquired. More importantly, the experienced raised the ceiling on his thinking.

To any just starting out in education or career, I can only plead go big . Doing so is no longer a status ploy; it is the game of survival. Livelihood, family, and retirement depend on getting to the table—the head seat if possible. It may take years to fully arrive, but years come and go quickly. There are many today who have little hope for future success because they took the years for granted. Owning a position at the table at the end of a relatively short time will make you glad that you ventured.

And this is why your credentials matters.


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    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      7 years ago from Danville, VA

      Lapse and Kelly: Communicating this 'Go Big' message should be the easiest thing for us with those looking to the future in light of even media attention on the question of whether college is even worth it anymore. Today it's the sciences, law and politics, healthcare, and engineering fields (with few others) that are IT. And I understand too that everyone cannot afford college; but sometimes these are the very people...the ones with mere certifications, motivation, and smartness...that take the world by storm and show that a degree isn't always necessary. Still, 'big' is it if college is the way. I'm doing everything in my power to steer my niece to be a doctor or something personally beneficial to her future. She's too brilliant to waste it on basic this-is-what-I-like college antics (too late in the day for that). Life is hard, and if we're playing the game--guess what? We've gotta play hard just as well.

    • krjpublishing profile image

      Kelly R. Jackson 

      7 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Great piece. For years the youth never chose to "go big" because they didn't necessarily have to. Now, they need degrees for menial jobs. They have to step their games up. It's too easy to waste 5 years in life and if we don't communicate that to those that follow us, we're doing them a disservice. Great job.

    • Lapse profile image


      7 years ago from East Coast Rules

      I think you're right. When I was young those extra curricular activities were optional. Now like you said I think kids (or anyone) do need to "go big" in order to be competitive in the world today. I think it comes down to the fact that everyone has picked that low hanging fruit and more effort is needed to succeed where it didn't use to be that way. Keep on preaching ithabise!


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