Promises and Commitments

Is there a difference between a promise and a commitment? The short answer to that question is YES!

I’m reminded of the story of the guy who sat down to a breakfast of bacon and eggs. There were two animals involved in the production of that breakfast. The first one was a chicken who made the promise of a great tasting breakfast. The second was a pig. The pig made an absolute commitment to a fantastic breakfast. 

I am surprised, disappointed really, at how some people make promises with no real intention of keeping them. Even though they are in the minority too many people make promises and then quickly forget about them. 

That’s why Authentic Leaders don’t make promises. They make commitments. Commitments seem to carry a great deal more emotional “weight” than a mere promise. I might be naive but I think most people have the best of intentions when they make a promise. When they make a commitment however it goes beyond good intentions. Often way beyond.

I try to never ask anyone for a promise. I try to never put someone in a position where they feel the need to offer one either. But I will ask team members, colleagues and anyone I’m mentoring for a commitment. I don’t do that for my benefit, I do it for theirs.

More people honor commitments than honor promises. Especially to themselves. If you want to lose weight then stop promising yourself that you’re going to start tomorrow. Make a commitment to begin today. A sign that you’ve made a commitment rather than a mere promise is that you’ve also carved out time in your schedule to honor it. 

While a promise can quickly slip into the “afterthought” area of your brain commitments tend to remain top of mind much longer. They kind of peck away at your consciousness until they are honored. 

I feel bad when I break a promise but I, like most people, get over it rather quickly. The very few times I have failed to honor a commitment I feel terrible, for a very long time. 

If you think the difference between a promise and a commitment is semantics then stop making promises and start making commitments. Especially to yourself. You WILL see and feel a difference and you’ll accomplish more than you knew you could. 

You’ll gain greater respect from your peers, your friends and most importantly, your family. 

Promises are nice but they are as easy to break as they are to make. Commitments mean more and are more likely to happen as a result. 

Whether or not you enjoyed your breakfast doesn’t matter to the chicken. They are going to lay another egg tomorrow either way. The pig however gave (well maybe not gave) their life in pursuit of a perfect piece of bacon for you. If that’s not commitment I don’t know what it could be.

People with good intentions make promises. People of good character make commitments. Which person are you?

Keeping Score

I was recently invited to join a Saturday morning golf league. I’ve never been asked to join this type of very unique league before. What made it so unique was that they don’t keep score. Apparently not keeping score is supposed to make the game more fun. 

I know there will be people who disagree with this but I see no point to playing golf…or any sport if you’re not going to keep score. I kind of understand the people who say that very young kids should be allowed to play sports without the “pressure” of keeping score but I’m not entirely bought into the idea. 

But for adults I believe keeping score in most areas of life is essential. 

Professional sales people who don’t know their percentage of wins vs opportunities have no way of truly knowing if their approaches are effective. Companies who don’t track their market share have no idea if they are gaining or losing customers. Retailers who do not track the amount of customers entering their establishments have no clue if their marketing and advertising is working. 

The “score” is simply a reference point on your journey to ultimate success. If you don’t track what actions and tactics are working for you then you’re very likely to get lost on that journey. 

How often do you stop to check your personal success score? Do you invest time to reflect on what’s working in your life? What’s not working? 

Most everyone I talk to claims to want a better tomorrow. They seek improvement in many areas of their life. But many of them want the improvement to come without making any changes. They want to do the same thing today as they did yesterday but they want a better result. That is not very likely to happen. 

Improvement doesn’t come from making changes. Improvement comes from making the right changes and the only way to know what changes will be the right ones is to keep score. 

The “score” is your result. Measuring results informs our decisions on what we need to change in order to have that better result we seek.

One more point, when you keep score make sure you’re being honest with yourself about what’s working and what’s not. Accepting responsibility for your actions or inactions is step one on the road to improvement. 

Denial might get you down that river in Egypt but it won’t get you far on the road to success.

So…do you know your score?

I HAVE to add this very last point. Keeping score in relationships is a losing game. It’s a losing game because believing you can “win” an argument with someone is a fool’s errand. The sooner you realize that fact the sooner your relationships in life will begin to improve. Sorry for kinda tacking that on to the end of this post but I felt it had to be said.