I love the scene in Pirates of the Caribbean when Captain Barbossa tells Elizabeth that the pirate code is really more ‘like guidelines’. It’s a fun comeback when people ask you about the status of a project. Oh that?! Well, when I told you last Thursday it was more of a ‘guideline’ (using your best pirate voice, of course).
But is it possible that deadlines and commitments are truly becoming more “like guidelines”?
How many of the problems you deal with are the result of someone failing to keep a commitment? Many missed goals or uncompleted tasks can probably be traced back to someone not keeping their end of the bargain.
We all make commitments every day. Some are small like agreeing on a time to meet, a pledge to follow-up or a promise to run an errand. Others are bigger and more formal like a project, proposal or event.
Every commitment we make is equally important because it’s the way people come to know and trust us.
Our reputations are built on our ability to make and keep commitments. I read a brief post about the importance of commitments that summed it up best:
- It’s OK to need more time as long as you ask for it up front. It’s OK to struggle and ask for help.
- It is not OK to break your commitments. The fastest and surest way to fail is to break your word.
It seems like such a basic concept, yet the inability of people to honor commitments destroys company value and professional relationships every day. So what can you do to make sure you keep the promises you make? Here are 3 tips to consider:
- Think before you say yes. The easiest way to find yourself over committed is saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘let me think about it.’ It’s far better to think it over and possibly say ‘no’ than to quickly agree and let someone down.
- Manage your commitments. Keep track of what you commit to doing and the time frame for completing the task. Everyone has the best intentions…but if you forget, no one knows the difference between ‘forgetting’ and ‘choosing’ not to keep your commitment.
- Renegotiate when you can’t keep your commitment. There’s nothing wrong with renegotiating the terms of your agreement. It shows that you have respect for the person and the matter that you are dealing with.
Value your commitments because they are a representation of you and your word. Consider them carefully, manage them properly and renegotiate them when necessary. Success is reflected in those whose word is (pirate’s) gold.0