Keeping Your Commitments

Posted by Robin Robins On September 9th, 2010

From a Wanda Sykes stand up routine:

“When you get married, you stand there and say until death do you part. That’s what you say in your marriage vows…you make that commitment….we’ll stay together forever.

Yet the divorce rate is sky high—so everyone’s just standing there lying their asses off. Why don’t we just be honest and come clean. Why not just stand there and say, “Ummmm…I’ll give it a shot.”

This past month I got to thinking about another important ingredient to wealth attraction and success in business: keeping your commitments.

One thing I’ve observed is how quickly most folks are to dismiss their commitments, not seeing the absolute importance of keeping them no matter how small or insignificant. When I run coaching groups, I’m amazed at how bad clients are at showing up to the meeting on time, fully prepared, homework done, promises kept. Worse, they don’t seem the least bit bothered by it and constantly repeat the same pattern over and over again. They think it’s no big deal and give themselves “get off easy” passes—I see it as a horrible bad habit that is reinforced every time they break a small promise to themselves and others.

As someone who is maniacal about keeping commitments, this sort of behavior drives me nuts. Of course, just like everyone else, I occasionally get myself into a situation where I can’t meet a deadline or keep a commitment I’ve made. But when I do, I don’t hope it goes unnoticed or excuse it away—I confront it, apologize, and re-commit to something I can deliver. Then I do it.

Why is this so important to wealth creation? How does keeping small commitments like showing up on time to every meeting or sticking to a scheduled “orange cone time” every morning play into your ability to attract wealth? Two reasons: First, when you don’t keep a commitment, you train yourself that you aren’t reliable. How many people do you know who always forever excuse sloppy work habits and behaviors because of a label they’ve put on themselves such as, “I’m just a procrastinator,” or “I’m not good with paperwork,” or, “I’m just not good at”…<<fill in the blank?>>.

Or they have a bag full of excuses to pull out at any time: their kids, traffic, weather, their supplier, staff, vendors, business problems, employee problems, spouse problems, relatives, and on and on and on. These are nothing more than lazy excuses for not keeping their word; and when repeated, it programs itself as a self- fulfilling pattern into their mind. Then, when they really need or WANT to keep a commitment such as making certain revenue, marketing, management, or business goals, they come up short time and time again, locked into at terrible self-fulfilling pattern of failure. This is also why they can’t stick to a diet or exercise program, stop smoking, or any other resolution or goal they set: they know, deep down, they don’t keep their commitments and don’t expect themselves to keep this one either.

The second way this plays into your success and ability to attract wealth is this: Personal integrity—which is saying what you are going to do and doing what you say—is an extremely attractive characteristic to others. When you become known for absolute reliability, clients, opportunities, projects and wealth flow to you automatically. Employees have more respect for you and are more willing to do what you ask them because you’re leading by example. Clients have a deeper trust and appreciation for what you do. And when selling to prospects, you exude an air of confidence and authority that most don’t.

Consider this: The #1 complaint everyone has about the companies they do business with or the people they work with is that they don’t keep their promises. And we’re not talking about big, grandiose failures, but frequent, tiny promises broken. The attorney who never calls you back or the printer that is always delivering a day or two late. The software company that promises the certain deliverables then misses deadline after deadline. The auto mechanic, dry cleaner, or restaurant that doesn’t have your order ready when you show up. Amazingly, most people just shrug this off, completely unbothered by their complete and utter lack of follow through. No apology, no embarrassment, no shame. They really don’t see being 10 minutes late as a big deal so deadlines slip constantly, setting a precedence for their reputation to be simply unreliable.

In Think and Grow Rich, Hill calls this decisiveness: making a decision and seeing it through come hell or high water…one of the characteristics shared by the wealthiest, most successful people in the world. So what do you do if you know you’re trapped in a pattern of not following through?

First, start training yourself to keep SMALL commitments, like showing up to every meeting 5 minutes early, fully prepared or getting that report/invoice/proposal done EARLY instead of late. Second, stop making huge, grandiose promises to yourself and others. Instead of saying you’re going on a super strict diet of carrots and celery, commit to cutting out sugary foods for 5 days—and then DO it. Then start stretching that commitment bit by bit. Here’s another one: promise to do 15 minutes of orange cone time every day; better 15 minutes than none at all. Do that for at least 30 days to establish a habit.

And finally, learn to say “No” more often— but not to the important things you know you should be doing. That’s called giving up. Of course, that means you have to KNOW what is important and what’s not. My friend Ken Glickman once said, “If you were on the Titanic with all your friends, family, and acquaintances and had only one life jacket to give, you’d quickly learn the difference between important and absolutely important.” In business, you have to make that kind of decision every day.

And here’s something else to consider; a less appealing commitment kept serves you better than a more important promise made that you can’t, won’t, or don’t keep.