By now you’ve figured out that I don’t make unreasonable “easy button” claims.
But here is one of those exceptionally rare truths that isn’t only going to add ridiculous, off-the-chain value to your life, it’s also as simple as flipping a switch:
Be a man or a woman who does what you say you’re going to do.
Boom. Like I said, it’s not at all complicated or difficult to implement. There’s no learned skill. The only thing to remember is one’s own promise.
What we’re talking about here is nothing short of a cornerstone to character. Here in Texas where I live, keeping one’s word is perhaps treasured more than other places.
But there’s little doubt that the rare human being who makes promises and keeps them is beloved by all, regardless of geography. Man…life is SO much easier and more joyful when we have the pleasure of interacting with such high-end people.
Yet, so few people actually do what they say they’re going to do. Especially in California, I’ve noticed…ha!
Why is that?
Maybe the good intentions are there, but then the act of following through is quickly forgotten about. That’s innocent enough, and it can happen to the best of us. The important part in such instances is making things right as quickly as possible without hassle to the person left hanging.
But what about all those times when promises are made without any intention whatsoever of making good on them?
Having thought extensively about this, I’m not so sure it’s that people genuinely love messing with others, inconveniencing them and/or leaving them in the lurch.
In all seriousness, I think the character deficiency often lies in lacking the power to say “no”. Most people naturally avoid conflict, and therefore say “yes” when a “no” is warranted. Weirdly, this feels in the moment like the high-character move. After all, disappointing people sucks.
But ultimately, it’s worse to get left hanging later than to get an honest “no” answer up front, isn’t it? After all, when someone makes a promise we might have tasks of our own that coincide with it. We might then make promises to others based on the promise made to us, causing a domino-effect in terms of who is let down by one broken promise.
Even more mysterious—and disconcerting—is the promise made voluntarily that isn’t kept. Sometimes that happens because someone of questionable character makes a grand, perhaps public gesture up front to generate social proof and/or falsely gain trust.
But more often, I think it’s just that people write checks they end up not being willing or perhaps even able to cash.
Not long ago Emily threw a party. Out of the blue, someone on the invitation list offered to bring the hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone.
That person never even showed up to the party. A couple dozen people were left with mustard, ketchup, relish, chips and even dessert…but no hot dogs or hamburgers.
When Emily contacted the person who had made the promise (“Where’s the beef?”), she didn’t answer the phone. Later it was learned that “something came up” and she was simply too embarrassed to call and say she wouldn’t be keeping her promise.
Sticking one’s head in the sand is never in alignment with strong character.
Taking all the potential variables into consideration, the net result is a world where broken promises are more the norm than the exception. It happens routinely in romantic relationships, parenting, social circles, car dealerships, timeshare sales pitches and dating advice videos.
Yet, trust hasn’t been cheapened. People still value it immensely, even as it’s squandered so ironically.
That only means that if you and I can simply do what we say we’re going to do, we’ll stand out head and shoulders above the crowd.
But wait…there’s more!
If you can actually overdeliver in the process, you’ll become one of the most amazing people anyone you know has ever met.
The other day we were expecting a delivery here at Casa McKay between 2pm and 6pm. The truck pulled up at 5:59 pm. Technically, they did what they said they were going to do.
But here’s the thing. We had also hired a couple of other guys to install what was being delivered. Since we had another job for them while they were at it, we invited them to get here any time between 4pm and 5pm. They showed up at precisely 4pm.
Guess who we were more impressed with?
And not only did the two installation guys kick ass at what we hired them to do, they sorted out a couple other quick offhand tasks around here at no extra charge…without us even asking.
We’ve already hired them for another job, right after we left the the most glowing Yelp review ever.
So there you have it. Only make promises that you know you can keep, then follow through.
Even better, resist the urge to make grandiose commitments and instead promise slightly less than you know you can deliver. Then, when you do what you said you would do, do MORE.
You’ll quickly become everyone’s favorite person, enjoying the respect and admiration that goes with it. Basically, you’ll seem like a freaking magician in a world where kept promises are becoming more exceptional every day.
So tell me, what do you make of all this? Is your word your bond? Got any stories or examples that stand out for you? Did I miss a key reason why people can’t seem to get this right? Do you think that fewer people than ever are keeping promises?