The power of keeping your word is an intangible force that will give you a competitive edge. Although it costs you nothing, it could potentially have great impact on your success and increase your bottom line. It will also help you attract and retain quality clients, as well as earn qualified referrals for you. You don’t have to spend money on training to learn how to keep your word, but it can boost your success to the next level.
There was a time in history when a person’s handshake was their bond. An agreement would be made over a table, and it was binding. If a person gave their word, it was as good as a contract.
Are you good at keeping your word?
Do you always do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it? Do you have the code and character that your word is your bond? In today’s world, many people struggle with keeping their word. So often, you hear someone say, “I’ll be there,” or, “I’ll call you,” or, “I’ll get you that proposal.” But then it doesn’t happen. I’ve had multiple clients express their surprise over how I follow through, exclaiming, “You did what you said you were going to do!”
Just yesterday, I got on the phone to follow up with a high-profile attorney about a training. He said, “You told me your proposal would be in my inbox when I woke up, and I found that, sure enough, your proposal had come through at 3:45 am. You’re a man who is good at keeping your word.” Why is that now so uncommon? What has happened to our integrity? Why has situational ethics taken prevalence over pure ethics?
I don’t have an answer to those questions, but I can tell you this: keeping your word will help you will stand out from your competitors. You will become known as a person who truly understands that the word “client” originally meant “under the protection of.” As you protect your clients, ensuring that they receive excellent service, your reputation as a person of integrity will build your business like nothing else can.
What is at the core of keeping your word?
The New York City Marathon is a world-renowned event. One year as the first runners was crossing the finish line, the media rushed to interview the record-setting winner. They all wanted to know his story. He said, “I’m not your story. The real story is the guy who will finish three hours behind me. The crowd will be gone, with no one to cheer anymore. He will run his quiet race and finish because he said he was going to.”
“Who is he?” asked a reporter.
Replied the winner, “His name is CHARACTER.”
Character is at the core of keeping your word and is vital to your ability to overcome adversity.
Most of us have a concept of integrity. It can mean honest and morally upright, or whole and undivided, or structurally sound. When applied to a person, it can also mean that they consistently follow up their words with action. In life, what people say and what they do often don’t match. I’m looking for people whose words and actions match. But before I can look for people like that, I have to be that person. I must deliver on time, on scope, and on budget, without changing the rules.
Keeping your word with integrity costs you nothing, but not keeping it can cost you everything. Learning to keep your word may require a change in your perspective or your attitude. Maybe you should evaluate your words before you speak. I had to learn this myself, resulting in a major change in my personal life. I used to be highly reactionary, but I have learned not to react. I was fast-paced, task-oriented, and charging full speed ahead without concern for the people left in my wake. Now whenever something comes at me, I try very hard to listen and process before I respond. I now weigh my words much more carefully, so when I do respond, you can take it to the bank.
Unfortunately, in today’s culture, commitments are often not kept. When a person says, “I will be there,” what they really mean is “I will be there unless…(insert extenuating circumstance.)” Rather than sticking to their commitments, they give themselves too much slack. Yes, there may be genuine circumstances that prevent you from keeping your word, but they should be extremely rare, never a pattern.
My challenge to you
Consider the benefits of keeping your word. You will gain an unfair advantage over your competition, because the majority of people don’t weigh their words before they speak and therefore often don’t follow through.
Remember Aesop’s fable about the boy who cried wolf? The truth of that story – that liars aren’t believed even when they’re telling the truth – also applies here. If you say you’re going to do something and then don’t do it, you have told a lie. If this happens often enough, even if you do keep your word other times, you lose the trust and confidence of others, possibly at great cost to yourself.
Learn to keep your word with integrity, and you will earn the respect and trust of others. Your word is the bedrock of all your interactions with people, and it should be your bond. When you have established yourself as someone who always does what you say you’ll do, you’ll find yourself well along your path to success.