Promises. Promises. Does the very word make you uncomfortable? Conjure up images of promises forgotten, broken, or never fulfilled? If promises don’t make you uncomfortable, then you haven’t been trying hard enough. Or you haven’t been taking your promises seriously. Promises are, to some extent, uncomfortable because you have to keep them.
A successful business is made up of the completion of one successful project after another. If you don’t know how to do projects you won’t be successful. Project progress (or any kind of professional progress, for that matter) depends on the successful fulfillment of promises.
Promises bring people together.
When working on projects, create a routine that is appropriate for the project, which requires the team to come together to undertake promises to one another. The work that I promise to complete today allows you to start your task tomorrow.
The downfall of not fulfilling my obligation is one breakdown after another. In fact, our reputations are built on our ability, or lack thereof, to make commitments and fulfill them, as is the future of our business. There are people who are great at making commitments but not great at fulfilling them. When that happens, not much gets done and they aren’t chosen to participate on a project team again.
Diminished expectations; I can’t but I’ll try.
Others don’t make commitments fearing the accountability, preferring to hide under a cloak of diminished expectations. How often have you heard (or said) the words, “I can’t promise you that I’ll do it, but I’ll try.” Certainly, that’s ok on small things that are not important to your plans, goals and dreams. If someone asks me to promote something that I’m not highly invested in I might say, “I’ll try, but I can’t promise.” But, for the big stuff that is important to you, why would you want to live in the half-light of such a soft engagement with others and the world? Yet, without commitments in the first place not much gets done. Moreover, the non-committer doesn’t get picked again.
Develop habits of commitment making and fulfilling.
The good news is that projects are a perfect venue to develop and improve habits of commitment making and fulfilling.
I should note that commitments can, and sometimes should, be renegotiated. That’s perfectly natural. Things change. But if renegotiating promises becomes the norm, then not much gets done, at least not in a timely fashion. And, you guessed it, we don’t get asked to participate again.
When working with others, nothing works better than a ten to fifteen minute daily coordination and commitment management conversation; each team member assesses how they are doing fulfilling promises. They report “complete” when done or make revised promises when needed. They also make new promises at the appropriate time. They finish the meeting by asking for help or offering help to others. A four- to seven-person team can have this conversation in less than fifteen minutes—and should.
Be the doer of deeds rather than the critic.
To promise and fulfill is to be the doer of deeds, not the critic. Of course, destroy, blow up, tear town what is mean, exploitative, abusive, and criminal. But, when it comes to doing big things, be fully engaged in the world, not standing apart or hovering above. Get in the ring, on the stage, make things that matter, build stuff that lasts.