People make promises at the drop of a hat: Politicians promise a better future, job applicants promise they’ll take the world by storm, and people like you and me promise to invest in our personal growth, take better care of ourselves, and even cut back on desserts. (Oh no!) When all is said and done, do you keep your promises? It’s so easy to tell folks what you plan to do. It’s so easy to promise how hard you’ll work and how much you’ll try. It’s so easy to brag about how you’ll do your best and be your best. That’s because promises like that require no effort — they’re just words.
The truth is, after those statements are made, the hard work begins — delivering on your promise. But as soon as some folks realize that it’ll take hard work, sacrifice, and determination, they run for the hills. In short, some people have every intention of keeping their promise…others, not so much.
Don’t tell me what you’re going to do. Tell me what you’ve done.
Deeds Not Words
The problem is that people are often rewarded for intentions even though they only offered wishful thinking. While intentions may offer gratification, at some point the bill will come due. If promises aren’t kept, questions will arise — and the emperor will appear with no clothes. At that point, don’t be surprised if people look over your shoulder, second-guess your decisions, and question your motives. After all, you earned it.
Good intentions are meaningless if you don’t deliver on your promise.
If it’s important enough to make a promise, it should be important enough to keep it. When you make the following statements, are they throwaway lines?
“We treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
“We stand by our products.”
“You can always count on me.”
“We put people before profits.”
“I’ll always be honest with you.”
“It’s critical to be open-minded.”
“We’re all about giving back to the world.”
“Our customers come first.”
“I’ll always be there for you.”
When All Is Said and Done
When people make a promise, they choose one of two paths. Some folks use a promise as a motivator. “Now that I made the promise, I have to keep it.” Other people make a promise to look good. The problem is that they have no intention of keeping it. Those folks think they’re fooling the world but they’re only kidding themselves.
You see, every time you break a promise, you’re telling yourself that going back on your word is acceptable. By doing so, you make it easier to renege on your promise next time. Over time, what starts out as a dishonorable act ends up being a defining characteristic. Everyone will know that your statements are worthless. What’s more, you’ll know you’ve become a fraud, which will do wonders for your self-esteem. If you want to be taken seriously, take your promises to heart. Every time you make a commitment, your moral character is on full display, you’re revealing how much your promise is worth, and you’re signaling whether you can be trusted. When you make a promise, you’re not giving your word in erasable pencil, you’re inscribing your commitment in indelible ink. As Pablo Picasso, the painter and sculptor, said, “What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” In short, deeds not words.
When all is said and done, real winners have a proven track record of success. They don’t just talk a good game. They deliver on their promises. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do. Tell me what you’ve done.
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