May 19, 2012

KEEPING PROMISES WHEN NO ONE’S WATCHING

Cat and goldfishWhen I ran a department, my team of 10 met every second Friday morning with whoever was present. I wanted the meetings to continue when I was away unavoidably. Instead, they would get canceled. Perhaps my staff saw the meetings as an imposition they wanted to avoid.

At work, we don't have a choice.

When you voluntarily join a small nonwork group that meets regularly, you do. There will be temptations to cancel meetings when a member is unavailable. The reasons vary: sickness, holidays, weather, conferences, clients, ...
Sometimes the reasons are unavoidable. Sometimes canceling is due to laziness or "not feeling like it".

Commitment

A meeting is a commitment and a commitment is a promise. That promise is to you as the promisor and to the rest of the group. Break a promise and you break a chain. Trust decreases.

I look for ways to keep promises, even when that's inconvenient. I sometimes go to a meeting even if other attendees cancel. If you show up, you've achieved a victory. You've planted another sequoia acorn in the forest of your character.

Zig Ziglar said, "If you do what you ought to do when you ought to do it, the day will come when you can do what you want when you want to do it."

Going to a meeting may not be the most enjoyable thing you can do at the moment, but maybe that's what you ought to do?

Fellow Victors

If some of the others show up too, you've strengthened a bond. The discussions are invariably better than with full attendance. There's more time for each participant to speak. The discussions go deeper. There may be unexpected tangents. You might get to know more about each other's personal lives. You build trust.

The "show up" pact works in public (e.g., blogging regularly). It also works in private when no one else know. In both cases, you know. And you're worth it.

The Others

Problems arise when others break promises. Say your advisor. You know they've failed you but in their minds, they not even know there's a problem. Maybe they're consistent in failing to deliver. Maybe you learn the pattern and make allowances. Isn't that rewarding misbehaviour? What will that get you?

If the offender is a family member or boss, you've got complications. Even then, you can focus on your Circle of Influence (yourself). By keeping your own promises to yourself, you'll build a habit that helps you keep other promises. Maybe you can nudge others to keep theirs. Or ditch the promise breakers.

Links

Podcast 169


direct download | Internet Archive page | iTunes

PS This is the May long weekend but this post still shipped …

2 comments:

Paul Nazareth said...

Actually Promod, someone is always watching when you keep promises. It reminds them why they can trust you no matter what, because if you show up for yourself in character, you will show up for them when a commitment is made!

I just LOVE your comment on character.

Something I wrote about recently, how I got small chance to reward character I respect http://bit.ly/JmL8GB

Promod Sharma said...

Thanks for your comments, Paul. Now you've got me worried about surveillance :)

I already saw your link (and commend you on the way you shine your spotlight).