A friend of mine was flying home from vacation when she found herself with an opportunity to get over $1,000 in airline vouchers if she would give up her seat on the last flight out for the night and take a flight the next day that would have her arriving home in the afternoon. Being an avid traveler, this was real attractive. And it was more money than she would actually make in her job the next day. Only one hitch—she had 5 clients scheduled and expecting to meet with her. She could easily have cancelled and rescheduled them; that’s pretty common in her industry. It would be quite reasonable for her to take the deal. But she chose to keep her original flight for one reason: she had already told her clients she would be there. That’s it. This may be why my friend has a waitlist of people wanting to work with her and not someone else.
When was the last time you kept your word even when it was painful, inconvenient and costly? My assertion is that if you are one to keep your word even then, you probably have a habit of keeping your word even when the consequences of not keeping it appear small. And I bet you are moving through life with power and impact. Here’s why: honoring your word in small things creates a context for honoring your word in big things. So if there is an area of your life not working right now, let today’s conversation bring light on one possibility at play.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” —George Bernard Shaw
We have created a culture where we are increasingly honoring everything BUT our word, especially in the little things. We call it reasonable to cancel appointments when something “more important” comes up, or refrain from paying a bill because we have an unexpected expense this month or don’t deliver what we said we would because we aren’t feeling well. Let me say it again, these are all very REASONABLE. And it is reasonable because culturally we have agreed it so; we have made allowance for it. But reasonable doesn’t mean workable. Instead of honoring our word, we honor our ever-shifting situations, circumstances, feelings, thoughts and emotions. That is why our lives aren’t working the way we really want. We exchange progress for reasons. Honoring our word moves life forward, and dishonoring it keeps us stuck…with our very reasonable reasons. Have you noticed that?
We have made such allowance for dishonoring our word in the little things that when it comes to big things we now require lengthy contracts with stiff penalties for not doing what we agreed to do. Professional services have policies to charge fees for late cancellations or missed appointments. A client called our office one morning stating she just couldn’t make her appointment that day. When I reminded her she would be charged for her session anyway, she said, “Okay, I’ll be there.” All of a sudden she could make her appointment after-all.
Instead of honoring our word, we honor our ever-shifting situations, circumstances, feelings, thoughts and emotions. That is why our lives aren’t working the way we really want.
There is an undercurrent of distrust in our society with one another and even with our own selves. It wasn’t always this way. Our country was actually built on the integrity of “my word is my bond.” As a nation, we understood something way back when that few of us realize today: who I am IS
my word. My word is not what I HAVE; my word is who I AM. And when I fail to honor my word, I erode the essence of my very being. Every. Time. Big or small. And that’s huge. Not only do I break trust with others, I break trust with myself. When I do this enough, I create a habit of not trusting myself, and that’s where many of us find ourselves today. We don’t trust ourselves to be who we need to be in order to do what we say we will do.
Consider how this impacts the risks you take and don’t take in life. If you don’t trust yourself to get out of bed when you say you will, meet with people when you say you will or return those calls/emails you say you will, are you really going to trust yourself to deliver on that multi-million dollar project? Will you commit to live the rest of your life in marriage with another human being? Will you risk it all to follow what you know you were born to do? What opportunities do you pass up because you can’t count on yourself to do what you say you will do in the minutia of day to day?
If you don’t trust yourself to get out of bed when you say you will, meet with people when you say you will or return those calls/emails you say you will, are you really going trust yourself to deliver on that multi-million dollar project?
What if, for just one week, you do absolutely everything you say (to yourself and others) you will do? Try it out. Just one week. Make a commitment to stop honoring your feelings, thoughts, emotions, circumstances and situations, and honor your word instead, big or small. Notice what happens. Your life will become very UNREASONABLE. It will be costly and painful and inconvenient. You may go the whole week and no one else notice a thing. But YOU will notice a difference in the results you’re getting and the trust you’re creating with yourself and others as your actions become the tangible manifestation of your word. Imagine what your life would be like if you trusted yourself implicitly and completely to always come through on your commitments? How amazing would that be? And how amazing would your relationships, business, health and contribution be? By honoring your word, especially in the small things, you will be creating an alignment in your life that produces powerful results. Remember, it’s unreasonable people that change the world.
To Your Great Life!