The Power of Always: Making Commitments You Can Keep

I will always brush my teeth before I go to bed.

That’s pretty easy.

I will always exercise at least 5 times a week.

Unless,

I get stuck in the airport, my kid gets sick, there’s a hurricane,

A bit harder.

As leaders we have long lists of intentions. We do our best to keep our commitments.

Unless…

Identifying What’s Always Important

“You are what you do, not what you say you will do”
~C.J. Jung

Have you ever sat down and figured out what are you most important commitments? Ones you are sure you can keep. Simple, measurable not intentions commitments? What are the specific actions you will do “no matter what.”

What commitments can you absolutely make to yourself?

Take a moment here, it’s harder than it seems.

Are you willing to write it down?

What could you commit to always do with your team?

Hold a weekly coaching session?

Always give honest feedback?

??

???

Take another moment this gets even more tricky.

Are you confident enough in your ability to follow-through?

Are you willing to share the list with them tomorrow?

I’ve also done this as a team exercise.

What can we always commit to do on every customer interaction?

  • A warm, energetic greeting?
  • A careful analysis of options?
  • ?
  • ?

It’s a useful exercise at many levels.

What are you most important always commitments?

Why are they important?

Felons, Leopards, Spots and Feedback: A Short Story of Missed Opportunity

Last night I accidentally had dinner with an old college friend. It was one of those fun chance meetings which quickly leads to a run down of every mutual acquaintance and what they are up to. He shared a story that got me thinking about feedback, and my responsibility to give it.

The Story of Missed Feedback

He began, ” and Joe (not his real name) is a convicted felon.”

“What! Story, please.”

Joe is a bright, talented guy who quickly became a successful businessman. My interpretation of the story is that his white-collar crime was not an oversight or an accident, but a substantial breach of integrity motivated by greed and vengeance.

I looked at my friend, “I am embarrassed and sad to say, that I’m not shocked.”

So why wasn’t I startled by this news? In my interactions with Joe there were times when things just didn’t feel right in the way he treated his relationships or stories that just didn’t stick together. At this point, the details are fuzzy, but I do remember thinking, “I should give him some feedback.”

I never did.

Why hadn’t I?

Was I afraid? Worried it “wasn’t my place?” Worried I would lose the friendship?

What if I had?

What if others had in the 20 years between then and now?

What if friends and colleagues had called this leopard’s’ spots as they saw them emerge-when the stakes were low. What if he had more ticked off people calling his bluff along the way? Would he have failed sooner and softer? Or, perhaps they did. I will never know.

What is our responsibility to give feedback and hold up mirrors for our friends early in the game?