We are known by the promises we KEEP, not the ones we MAKE (5YTL)

I read an article recently that included this phrase.  It really jumped off the page at me, because I am hypersensitive to people who make commitments and fail to come through.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like I’ve never let people down against a commitment, but I have a pet peeve with people who do this habitually.  It causes me not to trust their ability to follow through, and it makes me hesitant to accept their commitment in areas that matter.

“I know she says she wants to volunteer to help, but WILL SHE ACTUALLY?

Whether this is a behavior in the workplace or in personal relationships, it sends the same signal to those who are left holding the proverbial bags.  “You cannot be trusted to come through when it matters.”

I was involved in a project a few years ago in support of the person leading it.  It was someone I respected, and I wanted to be a part of it, because he was passionate about the cause.  At one point in the project, he asked if I would fill in for a specific meeting, because he had to be out of town.  No problem!  Glad to help!  As weeks rolled on, though, he found increasing excuses to be unavailable and eventually abandoned the project altogether.  This really rubbed me raw, and I eventually closed the project down.

It wasn’t my project.  It wasn’t my passion.  Others involved with the project were frustrated and hurt by the lack of involvement, and I ended up with a black eye for something I shouldn’t have been leading to begin with.  Does this temper the way that I engage with him moving forward?  You bet it does!  

I was reading some comments online last week and came across a note from a woman who claimed that she had been pursued persistently by a salesperson for a service his company offers.  When the time finally came that her company needed those services, she emailed him to let him know.  In fact, she emailed him three times to express her interest.  Eventually she contacted a different company to provide the services she needed.  That was a lot of work on the part of that salesperson to peter out at the last minute (I guess he got caught up in his LVMs).  What a waste!

I’m confident that none of us sets out to disappoint in this way, but it’s worth asking yourself if you’re one of these folks.  Do you make commitments and find excuses not to come through when it comes time to execute?  Do you do the work to bring in the new customer only to disappoint when the chips are on the table?  Do you get the kids’ hopes up and sleep through commitments instead?

The point is that, even though saying yes feels good in the moment, failing to come through is what will stand out in the minds of your customers, your friends, your family, etc.  The people in your life will remember the outcome far more than the willingness to commit.  If you’re going to look good on the front end, you damn sure need to follow it up with action.  If you don’t, well….

Maybe this is a good read for you.

Let your YES be YES and your NO be NO, and I hope you’ll share your stories with me!  Tomorrow Begins Today.

One thought on “We are known by the promises we KEEP, not the ones we MAKE (5YTL)

  1. Great thoughts in this post. I find it easy to commit on the front end more readily than the back end. The back end takes work, the back end is where the close happens to finalize it all. And maybe that’s where the problem lies…it’s easier to start than it is to finish something. I worked some construction with my mentor, and he paid so much attention to details… he told me that you have to do the little things that no one notices to make the job your best, but you also have to know when good enough is good enough.

    I know sometimes I have trouble closing clients because that means fulfilling a promise. You see, for me it’s not that the act is hard…but it’s about fulfilling a promise. If you think about any product that is sold (we too are products ourselves)… a successful product isn’t selling the product…it’s about selling the promise of what it will do for you.

    I have to remember this because I’m not just bringing something to people, I’m bringing the promise of what the event, product, or my time will bring to them. I have to be FULLY present…and that takes real work.

    I know we all can get caught in trying to do too much, so I think it’s about finding what are our “essential few.” The essential few things things that are really important to us… and then for us to create ways to follow through on those promises. I’ve spent a good amount of my time making promises to the “trivial many” and then I don’t follow through. When we categorize the “trivial many,” from the “essential few” we can say NO to what’s not important, and we can put more of our energy into the things that truly matter.

    Which in the end, I think will help us to keep our promises.

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