As the year draws to an end, I find myself once again immersed in the annual season of reflection and goal setting. Over the years, I’ve shared plenty of thoughts about my troubled relationship with resolutions many of us make, yet have no intention of following through on. For me, establishing goals in favor of resolutions has proven to be a far better approach. Last year, though, I decided that instead of focusing on goals, I would focus on general themes. That technique worked even better for me. Taking things a little further this year, I’m moving on to making promises.
I hate to sound negative, but I have become increasingly numb to the lack of follow through demonstrated by many. In fact, the membership in my personal circle of trust has changed quite a bit over the last year. Those who were unable to follow through on their bold statements of intent now receive little more than an eye roll as increasingly hollow pledges pass through their lips. At the same time, others both strengthen and increase our circle because they know that a statement of intent is a promise and promises are meant to be kept. One extremely important person in my life has grown to understand the importance of following through on a statement of intent this year, my son. He has always been good at holding me accountable and he now sees merit in doing the same for himself. We don’t abuse the word “promise” in our house, but we most certainly use it. He knows that if my wife or I promise him that we are going to do something, that he can count on us to deliver. Now that he is 10 and he continues to see the importance we place on follow through, he takes great pride in committing to his word. If he promises that he is going to do something (not that it happens often), I know that it will get done. Recently, I asked him why he finished something that I had asked him to do. Instead of a “because you told me to”, he responded with a “because I said I would.” Needless to say, I grinned from ear to ear, fully knowing he was playing to his audience.
“Because I said I would” is a phrase I hope to hear and am committed to saying more in 2014 than ever before. It’s a simple, yet extremely powerful phrase. I recently did some research on the phrase and arrived at this website, which introduced me to the whole “Because I Said I Would” movement founded by Alex Sheen…Inspiring to say the least. (click here to watch his TED Talk)
Even when it is as simple as a self-imposed due date, an agreement to attend/hold a meeting, I make it a habit to deliver on the promises I make. I hold myself accountable for following through on the commitments I make. And I beat myself up for not following through on something I intended to do. This year will not be any different. What will be different is the increased commitment I am making to holding others accountable to both make and deliver on their promises, goals, and statements of intent; and to spending less time with those who are unable to. As a result, I am certain that my circle of trust will change even more this year. My seniors may not like it, my friends may not appreciate it, and colleagues may be completely turned off by it. That’s not the intent, but I am OK with that being the result because I care that much. I recently received a card from a mentor that stated in giant font, “You are Freaking Awesome*”. The * referred to the fine print which said, “by that I mean ‘you are the average of the five people you hang around with most.” I’ve long believed the fine print and acknowledge that we begin to exhibit the behaviors of the people with whom we surround ourselves. In essence, by caring enough to hold them accountable, we are holding ourselves to the same standard. If we don’t care enough to hold them accountable, then we ought to think twice about spending so much time with them. Likewise, if we aren’t personally committed to following through, let’s not make false promises, meaningless goals, and hollow resolutions.
What promises do you care enough to make? What will you do simply because you said you would?