You Are Your Word

I want you to take a minute and put yourself in the shoes of a contractor, or take this situation and apply it to your own situation.

You need an answer from a customer for a project. When you receive that answer you will be dispatching a crew for the job. It’s an important job that you need to get right. The sooner you can get the information from the customer, the better. The customer has told you that they would have the information to you before the end of the day. So in the mean time you are holding back on scheduling your crews for other jobs and they are on standby waiting for the information from the customer. The end of the day comes, but the answer doesn’t. 

How is this for you?

Now flip the situation around. Have you ever been that customer? Have you ever told someone that you’d do something and didn’t. You got busy, unexpected things came up, you forgot. Maybe you had a valid reason. Maybe you didn’t. 

What did you do?

I recently had a conversation with a couple who were having an issue with someone not performing as they thought they should be. They told me that in one of their discussions one of them had said, “If Jeff was in this situation, I guarantee this person would be performing.”

Why is it that people act different around different people? Why is it that some can get results out of people but others can’t? Why is it that when you tell some people that you’ll do something, there’s no way you wouldn’t do that thing but there are other people  that you can say you’ll do something for but if it doesn’t get done it’s not that big of a deal?
Who you are being, the words you use and the actions you take have an impact on the people around you. I want to talk about your word, as in what you say you are going to do. Being responsible with your word is more than a commitment, it’s a matter of integrity. When you are integral with your word you are creating a relationship that will make the other side act in a certain way. The experience they will have of you will have an impact on them now and in the future.

Too many people are sloppy when giving their word and it creates problems or distrust. I’ve heard Brandon Craig say, “You are your word. You are either a person who can be counted on, or you are a person who cannot be counted on.” Which one are you? Which one do you want to be? Which one can create more powerful relationships?
Without integrity, nothing works. Without integrity, nobody knows what is really going to happen. With integrity you have the possibility of performance. With integrity you can create agreements. With integrity you can create action. With integrity you can create results.

You must be careful and sensitive in giving your word. If you are serious about being a person of integrity, you will think very carefully before giving your word. When people know that you have integrity with your word and you will do exactly what you say, it creates an expectation on their side. It creates a powerful relationship and they will want to show they are integral as well. This is when you will see results and the things that were said would happen, do happen.

However, there will be times that something occurs that is going to prevent you from keeping your word. Does this mean you lose all your integrity? No, you can honor your word and keep your integrity. To honor your word, as soon as you know you won’t be keeping your word, you need to let everyone know who is counting on you that you cannot keep your word and clean up any mess that you’ve caused. When you do this, you can honor your word despite not keeping your word, and you have maintained your integrity.

Lets look at an example. If I give my word to a customer that I’m going to have some information to them by 3:00, I’m going to do everything in my power to have it to them by, or before 3:00. But if there’s a situation outside of my control that is going to prevent this from happening, as soon as I’m aware that I will not be able to keep my commitment I will contact them to let them know and create a new agreement, while also cleaning up any mess that I’ve caused by not keeping my word.

In Michael Jensen’s article, Integrity: Without It Nothing Workshe explains the fear of acknowledging that you will not be keeping your word and why many do not honor their word when they know they won’t be keeping it:

“When maintaining your integrity (i.e., acknowledging that you are not going to keep your word and cleaning up the mess that results) appears to you as a threat to be avoided (like it was when you were a child) rather than simply a challenge to be dealt with, you will find it difficult to maintain your integrity. When not keeping their word, most people choose the apparent short-term gain of hiding that they will not keep their word. Thus out of fear we are blinded to (and therefore mistakenly forfeit) the power and respect that accrues from acknowledging that one will not keep ones word or that one has not kept one’s word.”

Keeping your word is obviously the best case scenario, but as Michael Jensen explains, “by honoring your word you maintain a certain power and respect.” By honoring your word when it cannot be kept, a surprising level of trust emerges. Jensen concluded by saying, “Honoring one’s word is truly an amazing phenomenon… As with the Law of Gravity, the end result is guaranteed.”

Don’t be sloppy with your word. If you do not fully intend on doing something, don’t say you will. Have integrity with your word and if you cannot keep your word, honor it. This isn’t always easy to do and I’m the first to admit that I am far from perfect with this, but as we keep this in mind and focus on it we will get better and better and soon be known as someone who has integrity with their word.

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Day Before Vacation Productivity

Last week I was talking to someone about work and an upcoming vacation he had planned. He expressed to me how productive his week had been because he knew what he had to accomplish before he could leave on vacation. It made me think of a post I had written back in 2013. After reading it again this morning I thought I would post it again. It was a copy of an email that I had sent out to my team:

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Team,

We have talked a lot about productivity and time management over the past year.  We have included it in our education meetings, I’ve sent our Dave Ramsey podcast and we’ve included it in our Monday morning meetings.

Last night I witnessed something that got me thinking about this again.  Tia had just finished practicing piano and was sitting at the table looking very stressed.  Tammy asked her what was stressing her out. From there the floodgates opened up and out came all the things she had to get done in the next few days with some tight deadlines: French test, write a paper about her experience in Africa, create a video to use at the piano recital, pepare to present in front of the Rotary Club,  basketball practice and… That was when Tammy stepped in.  She said she needed Tia to list out all of the things she needed to get done and the deadlines for each.  She also needed to figure out which ones she could have help on and who could help her.  Wow, this was starting to sound like real life Ramsey!
This got me thinking about our buddy Zig Ziglar and his “Day before vacation” teachings.
Zig asks the following questions:
  1. As a general rule, on the day before you go on vacation, do you get two or three times as much work done as you normally get done in a day?
  2. If you can learn why you are that much more productive on the day before vacation, and then repeat that process on a daily basis without working any longer or harder, does it make sense that you will be more valuable to yourself, your family, your company, and society in general?
  3. On the night before the day before vacation, do you take a sheet of paper and say to yourself, “Now tomorrow I’ve got to do…,” and then make a list of things you must do?… In its simplest form, that’s goal setting and it’s critical.  Next, did you organize your must-do list in the order of importance and accept responsibility for competing those tasks?
The day before we leave on vacation Tammy and I both have our to-do lists.  On that day both work related and non-work related things get completed efficiently.  This all happens because you have a deadline and you need to focus to get things done.  This is what Tia is going to experience over the next few days.  Her French test, the Rotary presentation, piano recital and all the other things coming up are going to happen if she’s ready or not.  So she needs to focus and prioritize to make sure she does well at all of them.
Going back to Zig and his day before vacation example, he says: “On the way to work the next day your self-talk was upbeat and centered on what you were going to get done.  You arrived at work on time so you were punctual. You immediately started to work, making you a self-starter.  You were highly motivated and optimistic that you were going to finish every tak you had set for yourself.  You were enthusiastic about your work and decisively moved from one task to the next, making good choices as you did so, even if the next job on the list was disagreeable.”
I love his example related to unpleasant tasks. “An ol’ boy down home said it best, “Friend, if you’ve got to swallow a frog, you just don’t want to look at the sucker too long.  He ain’t gonna get no purtier!  As a matter of act, the longer you look, the uglier he gets.” That’s the way unpleasant tasks are.”
“As you move from task to task, if someone tried to interrupt and talk about last night’s television program or last night’s game, you disciplined yourself to stay on task and not be distracted from your job… Since there was no “tomorrow” for you on each job, you persisted until you completed each one…. and momentum built with the completion of each task…. Perhaps the most exciting part of this vacation scenario is the fact that your co-workers instinctively picked up the pace [as well].”
If this approach works so well on the day before vacation, or the days before a test, a presentation or paper is due, won’t it work just as well every day?
A big part of this is in the planning.  When you plan things, the odds of their happening go up substantially.  If we plan our months, weeks and days we will be more productive and balanced.
Tia spent the evening writing about her experiences in Africa.  She’s made her list and has prioritized it.  She’s an achiever, not only will she get everything done, she will do it all very well.  But if Tammy hadn’t told her to pause, make a list and prioritize that list her stress would have stayed high and her productivity would have been low.  Plan your days and act so you don’t spend them reacting.
For more great stuff from Zig Ziglar find one of his books here on: Amazon.