176. The Commitments Ain't Just A Band in Ireland
There are few things more heartwarming than when your child first utters those six loving words:
“Daddy, will you make me popcorn?”
You see, our 9-year-old daughter got braces awhile back. Because of those braces, she had to give up eating popcorn. In order to support her, I decided to give it up as well.
This was no small sacrifice. I have what may be referred to as “an unhealthy relationship” with popcorn. I don’t give it up easily.
But, hey, if my daughter has to go cold turkey on popcorn for a year, the least I can do is try and do the same.
So I committed to her.
I tried my darndest to not eat popcorn and, dag gummit, I did very well.
Except for that one day.
In my defense, it was a really bad day in a really bad month and I was so frustrated with everything and couldn’t stand everyone and I just needed a little bit of comfort food. Just a wee kernel or two.
Listen, I’m not proud of it.
I felt guilty. Really guilty. When my daughter got home that night, I confessed.
She wasn’t happy with me. I don’t blame her. I wasn’t happy with myself either. I made a commitment to her and I didn’t keep it.
I told her that I wouldn’t have any more popcorn until she got her braces off. Then I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t slip again.
Two weeks later she was at a birthday party and she ate a little popcorn. She confessed to me.
The next week she went to a movie and she ate a little more popcorn. She confessed to me again.
“It’s ok daddy, you can have popcorn,” she said one day. “I’ve had it, so you can too”.
“Thank you, but no,” I replied. “I made a commitment to myself and I will stick to that commitment.”
And I did.
Then she got her braces off. And she asked me to make her popcorn. And we’ve had it every night since.
Trust and Respect
There are two common attributes shared by all successful leaders: trust and respect.
I would go so far as to argue that if you’re not trusted and respected, you simply aren’t a successful leader.
Leaders who are trusted and respected can get more done.
Leaders who are trusted and respected can build bigger companies.
Leaders who are trusted and respected breed loyal followers that will work harder for them.
This is where integrity comes in.
A high level of integrity is one of the important traits shared by trusted and respected leaders.
Integrity, as defined in the MED (Matlow English Dictionary), is when what you say, what you do, and what you think are all aligned.
Somebody who continually compliments others and then demeans them behind their backs is a person who lacks integrity.
Somebody who promises to do something with no intention of ever following through is a person that lacks integrity.
This is the one I want to dive a little deeper into - the person who lacks integrity by never following through.
Follow-Through Starts With The Right Commitment
Far too often I see leaders failing to do what they say they will. They talk about integrity but don’t display it. They always have excuses.
You probably remember the Three Fs of Follow Through. Those are the reasons you make excuses.
But excuses don’t matter. Nobody cares. And I’m not here to talk about that. What I’m here to discuss is how you’re making the wrong type of commitment.
So let’s talk about commitments.
The Commitments (not the band)
Trust and respect are everything when it comes to successful leadership. Yes, I said that already but I had to repeat it because I know how forgetful you are at this time of the day.
The problem with trust and respect being so important is that most leaders are bad at it.
In fact, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 58% of people say they would trust a random stranger more than their own boss!
I know… it’s insane, right?!
One of the reasons for this insanity is leaders’ failure to adhere to commitments.
You see, there are two types of commitments one can make and leaders often make the wrong choice.
Type 1: Commitment to Others
It’s only natural that leaders make commitments to others. After all, they are leaders and want to commit to their employees. It only seems appropriate.
Ha, I fooled ya. This is the bad type.
How many times have you heard a leader utter some version of “I’m committing to you, right now, that we will blah blah blah…”
And how many times have they failed to follow through with the blah blah blah? A lot I bet, right? So much so that their blah blah blah actually sounds like “blah blah blah”.
You have a higher chance of failure when you make commitments to other people.
Why? Because there’s little to lose if you don’t follow through.
When you make a commitment to a subordinate, odds are they will not hold you accountable. The reason is as simple as the fact that subordinates have a tough time telling their leaders when they’ve done wrong.
Without a level of real accountability, it’s easy to justify not doing what you’ve said.
Take me, for instance. When I made the popcorn commitment to my daughter, it was easy for me to fail. All it took was her being away from home for a couple of hours on a day when I just wanted comfort food. Boom! There goes my commitment.
I knew I could’ve gotten away with it - I knew that I could avoid the commitment without impact. (Sure, I confessed - but lots of people don’t. I’m sure you can come up with your own example).
Commitment to Yourself
It is only when we make the commitment to ourselves that there is no escape. When there is nobody else to judge ourselves but ourselves, the stakes are higher. There is nowhere to hide when we fail.
Making commitments to ourselves reminds us that we can get anything done with enough belief in our own abilities.
I believe in myself. When I set my mind to something, I accomplish it. So when I finally made the popcorn commitment to myself, there was no way I was going to break it. I knew that the moment I started.
It is harder to fail when you have to go to sleep at night knowing you let yourself down. (Unless of course you’re one of those people who always figures out a way to blame others for your own failures)
It is your responsibility to hold yourself to your own standards. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
Remember, nobody cares about your excuses. Nobody pities you for procrastinating. Nobody is going to cuddle you because you are lazy.
It's your commitment. It’s up to you to follow through with it.
Oh, and subscribe. ‘tis free.
“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you."
All Shook Up. You missed your chance to be married by Elvis (King-dom gone)
Solo. And what have you done with your life? (the ship has sailed)
‘Scuse me. Finally, no more witches are guilty. (pardoned)
Another Useless Website. Oddly tense (why?)