Friday, November 13, 2009

Keeping Your Word....

I've become increasingly aware of how easy it is to break a commitment .... it's as easy as sending a text, leaving an impromptu voice mail or shooting an email (that goes directly to the person's phone) to say you can't make it or that you need to postpone. What did we do when we didn't have such easy access to people? Did we just not show up? Some of us may have gone this route .... but the majority of us showed up. For many of us (myself included) the thought of abandoning a commitment without informing the other person wasn't even a thought. Even if I didn't 'feel' like it or had regrets of making the plan in the first place .... I showed up. It's amazing to think that centuries ago there wasn't even an option to call... people had to rely on one another's word. It was a given that you'd be accountable to your word. Today it seems that many of us keep this 'little pill' in our back pocket.... just in case.

Now, I'm just as guilty as the next person to cancel last minute ..... not necessarily because I like it or approve of it (although on some level I suppose I do, or I wouldn't be doing it) - but because I can. It's a sneaky rationale and practice that has quickly become a habit for myself and many others. There are a ton of rationalizations that my mind will come up with to justify changing an appointment time or postponing a meeting. It's never meant to be disrespectful to the other person. It's a mindset .... and one that I am working on changing. The new mindset I aim to adopt it to stand by my word. When I set an appointment or make a plan, I am committing to stick with what I say. What this means for me is that before committing I need to give some thought to what I'm choosing. I believe it's the impulsive decision making that leads me (and possibly you) to breaking my word.

I do realize there are some days, week and even seasons where it just feels 'hard' to show up. There's a myriad of reasons why - feeling tired, hormonal, physically exhausted, uninspired.... you name it - we all have these periods. Occasionally, these periods call for a 'time-out' to recharge and rest. The difference between deliberately taking time off and not showing up is that one is intentional and clear, the other is murky and can create distrust between you and whoever is counting on you to show up. More important, last minute cancelling and not showing up creates distrust with yourself. Your integrity gets striped and not only do others not know if they can truly count on you, but somewhere deep inside of yourself, you aren't sure if you can count on you.

What I've realized is that even if I think my actions are inconsequential .... they're NOT. People count on me. People count on you. And, even if others 'seem' ok with the cancellation, on some level there is an expectation not being met. And an expectation not being met leads to disappointment. And when this is repeated, trust can be challenging to establish. When there is no trust it is hard to build confidence, self-esteem and integrity. One cannot possibly feel good about themselves when they are continually breaking promises. One way to build credibility and trust with yourself and others is to show up no matter what. What an incredible way to be remembered ..... that others could count on you and trust your word. This is NOT about being perfect, it's about being a man or woman of your word.

Here's to less impulsive yeses and more thoughtful commitments.


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