Do you often promise more than you can deliver? I know I do.
Your Promise is your Word is your Identity.
We all make promises, whether it’s telling someone we’ll get back to them, that we’ll call them back, or that we’ll get something done by tomorrow.
But have you ever stopped to consider if you can keep those promises?
And, more importantly, what happens when you don’t?
Shifting my Linked In newsletter’s goalpost.
As a personal example, I have often fallen into the trap of promising more than I can deliver.
I initially began this as a weekly newsletter on LinkedIn. And I quickly realized that I could not consistently produce new content every week. So, I adjusted my commitment and switched to a fortnightly newsletter.
While I managed to publish a second post, I soon found myself needing help to keep up with the schedule.
To avoid further disappointment, I decided to shift to a monthly newsletter. However, even this schedule proved too demanding for me, and I am now running two months behind schedule.
In retrospect, I needed to fully consider the effort and time required to deliver on my promise of a weekly newsletter.
And as my business continued to grow, it became clear that the demands of my work would interfere with my ability to write and publish regularly.
This reminds us that we must be realistic and honest with ourselves and others when making commitments.
Why do I make a promise?
I’ve observed that I often make such “loose” promises to appear suitable/congenial, avoid or delay conflict, or I may genuinely want to do it. Still, I need a complete handle on my capacity, time, and resources.
Making promises is easy (sometimes automatic, out of habit), but following through on them can be much more challenging.
Types of promises
There are explicit and implicit promises which bind all of us.
Here are some examples of Explicit promises:
- I promise to return the book to you by the end of the week.
- I promise to pay you back the $500 I owe you next week.
- I promise to keep your secret safe and not tell anyone.
And here are some examples of Implicit promises:
- I’ll see you at the meeting tomorrow. (implies a commitment to attend the conference)
- I’ll call you later. (means a commitment to make a phone call)
- When you use someone else’s property or equipment, you are to leave it as you found it (if not better).
- You are expected to be at work as an implicit promise of your employment.
- You are expected to answer calls and return unanswered calls (perils of having a phone :-))
It’s the implicit promises which tend to get the better of us.
And when we don’t keep these promises, we’re wasting our time and energy and destroying someone else’s time, potentially causing low productivity.
Our word is our bond, and if we can’t keep it, we risk damaging our relationships and reputation. And, sometimes, someone else’s success may depend on our promise.
Lack of Integrity = Low Trust, Low Reputation, Low Productivity
So, weighing and planning the effort required to deliver on a promise before we make it is essential.
Paraphrasing Werner Erhard:
Integrity = Honoring your Word = Increased Productivity.
Each time we keep our promise, we add to our trust bucket, and people consider us dependable.
This becomes our identity, and it’s something that we should strive to maintain.
Before making a promise, think about if you can deliver on it. If not, it’s better to be honest and upfront rather than make a promise you can’t keep.
BTW saying NO is better than saying YES and not delivering. The NO is also a promise you keep. Indicates clarity.
I broke a promise; now what?
But what if we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve violated a promise? How do we make it up?
Paraphrasing Werner Erhard, here is a simple plan to “honor your word.”
- Keep your word, on time
- If you cannot,
- Inform everyone impacted that you cannot keep your word on time.
- Give a future commitment or withdraw the promise and, most importantly…
- Make amends for the impact on others for this lapse in integrity.
The key is to take responsibility for our actions and to work to regain trust.
We are defined by our Words (and thoughts, actions too).
Each time we speak, we build an identity. We are creating our future selves.
Integrity is a critical attribute of a spirited worker.
I would love to hear your views on this. Please do share in the comments section. As always, thanks for your valuable time reading this.
P.S. I promise to deliver this newsletter monthly 🙂
#integrity #promise #productivity #trust #dependable #commitment #spiritedworker