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Commitments: how to make them and keep them

My first boss gave me some simple career advice that to this day I still consider to be some of the most valuable I’ve ever received.

Here it is: Do what you say you’re going to do.

His reasoning was this: because so few people actually do follow through on their commitments, you can stand out immediately by doing so.

He was right. It really does make a big difference in life and business when you follow through and deliver on your promises.

People learn to trust you. They appreciate your reliability. They see you getting things done.

They also give you more responsibilities and opportunities. And people pay a premium for this kind of productivity. The rewards can be significant.

What keeps us from honoring our commitments? Wanting to think the best of people and their intentions, I’d say one big problem is over-committing. Taking on too much.

Taking a more cynical view, I’d say people just don’t care enough sometimes to follow through.

They don’t see instant gratification. They get shortsighted and move on to the next shiny object or commitment.

Loose ends are left behind. A reputation for flakiness develops. Opportunities and options start to dwindle.

So, what’s the key to keeping your commitments? Here are three fundamentals:

Urgency. Follow through while ideas and excitement are high. It’s a race to beat boredom and lost interest. Do it now and always be asking yourself and your team “How soon? When? Can we get it done faster?”

Understanding. Take the time to ask questions, assess a situation and then act decisively. Confusion will kill follow through if you don’t know what to do next.

Agreement. Be clear on the terms and conditions of your follow through. And if circumstances change, then don’t be afraid to change the agreement with the other party. Ask to renegotiate. People respect that integrity and honesty.

Commitments are currency.

Respect them. Collect them. And complete them.

Have a great week.

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