As lunch ended, the HR executive of a well-known, Denver-based “fast casual” restaurant chain looked me dead in the eye and said, “John, I promise to read QBQ! and call you in two weeks.”
Didn’t read the book, or make the call.
So I followed up. It’s what salespeople do—and I’ve done it since 1986.
I am not a victim. I chose this profession.
However, in my 28 years of selling training/speaking/books, I’ve attempted to imagine a world where we all follow through on our promises.
Visualize elected officials, managers, employees, colleagues, spouses, parents, and friends all taking actions in line with their words.
It’s such a powerful picture, it makes one wonder why so many promises are broken!
Maybe it’s because most people are nice people who say things just so others will feel good. Maybe we get busy and forget. Maybe we’re okay with telling “little white lies.”
Probably all true. But to the accountable person, those are simply excuses.
[Tweet “The accountable person does not make excuses.”]
Accountable people also don’t worry about why so many people break their promises. They ask, “What promises have I made but not fulfilled?”
Because those promises are the only promises that matter.
What has this message inspired you to do today?
Please share below.
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Great point. I’ve often wondered the opposite – what promises look like if people HAD to follow through on them…
Nick, excellent point! Thanks!
Another solid thought John! I need to review what commitments I might have made, and create a list of names and next steps to ensure that I don’t end up breaking these promises.
Jon, that’s exactly what this piece was designed to do … thanks for taking action!
I just want you to know that because of QBQ I am so much more aware of my actions and words !! I have shared this with many people including my church. I don’t want to be THAT person who breaks promises.It not only disappoints others it disappoints me and how I feel about myself as a person. Thank you for helping me become a better ME !!!
Kenya, that’s great to hear. I’m honored. Thanks so much for sharing.
Ditto Kenya. I hate breaking promises- especially to customers.
I believe most of us have the best of intentions when we make a promise but often over committ thinking we can get more done than is practical or possible. After reading your article, I am going to work on NOT over committing myself and avoid disappointing others.
Dennis, totally agree! And thanks!
Two years ago, I made a surprise DVD for my family. I asked each person to describe everyone else with just a few words (but not to share their descriptions with anyone else), then compiled those tributes in a photo montage video with nice music in the background. I admit to being a little apprehensive about what my children might say about me. I was HONORED to discover a common thread through all their remarks: Mom is dependable. I never knew they had even noticed.
I cherish that reputation and wouldn’t tarnish it for anything in the world.
Pony, what a wonderful commentary by your own family on … you! Thanks for sharing!
I, too, tend to take on more than I can follow through with. I’m trying very hard to only take on what I know I can handle and saying “no” when I need to. I think people appreciate and respect you saying no or you can’t rather than being disappointed when you don’t follow through.
And if they try to shame you for saying NO, Denise … it’s time to remain strong because you did what was right for you. And that’s ok.
Working out, I tell myself you will this and do this and then I don’t do it and regret it the next day
Jill, been there. 🙁
Last Sunday during an evening Bible Study the speaker talked about crossroads and how which fork we choose always has an impact whether it’s taking the wrong one and having to back track to get to a certain location or saying we’d do something and not doing it. It had me think of all the junctions I get to every day where I can choose to do something I’d committed to or make some other decision and wind up making excuses.
I also know from my own experience that there a couple of things that get in the way of keeping our word. One is that we don’t think we matter enough that what we say is important to someone else and has an impact. “I’ll try” is an expression we’ve all used. It excuses failure in advance since we didn’t promise. I teach clients all the time to give up the expression. It’s yes you will or no you won’t.
We’re also not good at asking people if they’re serious about the promise whether it’s reading the book or washing the dishes or finishing a report. By serious I mean do they really have time to keep their word in the time frame they mentioned, are they only saying ‘two weeks’ to keep me happy; have they looked at their life to see what might already be scheduled that could get in their way…
Last thing, is that the culture teaches us that commitments are one way. I promise John to read the book within 14 days and only I have the promise. I learned years ago that promises involve the promiser and the promisee so that support systems can be put in place to help people keep their word. It’s called “honoring commitments” and is part of a strategic communications process called “The Collaborative Way.”
I’m not perfect by any means and it’s a great tool to have.
John, this post reminded of a verse of Scripture: “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). I do not doubt the sincerity behind many broken promises, as I prefer to believe many intend to keep them, but they are unfortunately controlled by the tyranny of the urgent and break promises as promptly as they make them. I am comforted greatly that God never breaks His promises. We humans often take our eye off the majors and focus on the minors. Promises are a major. “Let your yes mean yes; let your no mean no.” (James 5:12)
Great message John! The message alone made me stop to think if I had any “hanging promises” that I needed to make good on. To me it follows along with the golden rule. Do not expect a promise to be upheld by someone if you cannot follow through on your own.
Bill, very kind! Yes, it’s good to “stop to think,” eh?! 🙂