Be impeccable with your word.
Recently I had someone promise me to deliver something to me that I needed. In exchange for something I was doing, they would provide X. I was disappointed. Truth is this has been a chronic problem with this person. It has gone on for years. This time, even though I hesitated, I had told my husband that we were expecting X.
He said “Right, a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots”.
I was put on the defensive, having to excuse the behavior of someone else when I truly had no fault in it. Total bummer.
A long time ago, after my divorce, I was thinking about starting a business. I had the money to start one and Lord did I have ideas. I was going to open a cupcake bakery, I was going to open a t-shirt business, I was going to do this. Each idea would be inspiring, I would get excited, put together ideas, name the business, work on recipes, etc. I put in the necessary time to start one. Then it would die off, and another idea would come or I would make an excuse as to why that one wasn’t a good idea anymore.
I thought at the time that I was just floating, that I could bounce around, thinking and dreaming and it really didn’t affect anyone but me. After I started to waffle with the third idea, a little voice came from the most unexpected place.
The wisest souls come in the most interesting packages.
It was my eleven year old daughter Megan. She said the words that shook me to my core and finally inspired me to change.
“Mom, stop. We don’t believe you anymore.” We ; was her and her younger sister Alli.
Unbeknownst to me, at the time; I had dragged them into my ideas. Filled them with wonder at having a cupcake shop that they could work in, we would bake together, wear matching t-shirts, eat yummy cupcakes! I had involved them in the t-shirt business showing them my designs and asking their opinions on the softness and color of the fabric options.
Her words stopped me cold. I looked into her big brown eyes and was lost. There was no answer, no excuse now. No way to convince her that this new idea would work out. She didn’t believe me. She didn’t believe in me, anymore.
Quite the brave act I think, confronting her Mom. At her age, telling this to one of the most impactful, most in charge of you people in your life. She sat looking at me, and I sat like a little kid in trouble at school. Nailed.
I could not have that. A kid, who didn’t believe in her own mother. What kind of mother am I to let her kid down. Over and over. I just hadn’t put that together. But now I had to. Always.
I had to prove to my daughters again that I was trustworthy. That I would do what I said. That I could calm the whirling dervish inside of me and get down to business. That is exactly what I did.
They were included in the process of building the shop. From a distance though, to make sure I had everything in order. Our grand opening, they were proud and showing the friends they had invited all the stuff.
Mom had followed through. She did what she said.
I started looking at all the other ways I was breaking promises. To them, to myself.
“We will go to the park today, let’s have pizza for dinner. Do you want to have a friend spend the night this weekend?” All potential hero moments or letdowns.
The unbroken promises pile up on you until you don’t even believe in yourself anymore. The inner voice says; it doesn’t matter, it’s okay.”
An unending maze of words, making promises to fill the gap of the last unbroken promise.
It is a dangerous game, especially in business to say you are going to do something and then not do it. People in general, are understanding of what life throws at you; they understand relationships, family, illness and overall busyness that comes from walking the planet. However, when there is always something, always one thing after another that comes up and knocks a promise out, it becomes too much. It’s a little like trying to hug the Tasmanian Devil, sooner or later you have to just get out of the way.
In business, it is very important, as your word becomes your contract. I will deliver X to you by this date. You will have the materials for your project on time, delivered. It can be a costly game. You forget where you are with each person. Were we working on this? What did they need? You are always behind. Each day, you beat yourself up more and more.
I wish all people would have an amazing kid who would tell it like it is, even when it hurts. But, because they don’t I will. What I found was as I stacked one fulfilled promise on another I felt stronger. More in tune, better about myself and my abilities.
There is no excuse other than dying to un-deliver or under-deliver on a promise.
- Don’t make promises you can’t or don’t want to keep.
- Think about what you are willing to do, what you can accomplish in a time period.
- Don’t convey that you can do something if you can’t.
- Delegate if you don’t have time, find a way to get the person what they need.
- Be present in conversations as you don’t know what you could miss.
Everyone has drama. Some of it is bigger than others. Truth is people, in general are nice. We are all just trying to make our way. We understand if you need more time, or are unable to take on new work at this moment. Accepting our limitations is a big part of being human. Working to better ourselves is another.
Nobody is perfect. We are human after all. It is the pain that causes us to learn.
The learning that makes us better.
Make promises and keep them, be impeccable with your word. People are watching you.