We’ve all seen a movie or a real life situation where a person is speaking a wonderful promise to another person all the while crossing their fingers behind their back. As if crossing fingers absolves them of their unprincipled behavior. And, to make this portrayal of human behavior even more unsavory, we’ve been conditioned to see the person crossing their fingers as not really doing something that harmful.
Promises are a pathway to success. Period. There is no gray area here. The person who is intentionally or non-intentionally breaking their promise is not only causing harm to the other party, but committing a harmful crime against themselves. In failing to uphold their promise, they are setting themselves up for future failure.
“PROMISE IS A BIG WORD. IT EITHER MAKES SOMETHING OR BREAKS EVERYTHING”. Unknown
Stephen Covey’s bestselling classic: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People cites the #1 Habit to acquire to become successful is to be proactive: “The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity”. If then, upon recognizing the failure to uphold a promise to ourselves or another, an immediate ability to self-correct is the most effective step one can take to putting oneself back on the path to success.
I bet almost everyone reading this article can reflect upon a time when they said to themselves “I will never let myself do such and such again”, only to find themselves doing it one more time and suffering some kind of a loss as a result of failing to keep their promise to themselves. We’re human, sometimes we succumb to breaking our promise to ourselves because we want something very badly. But, then we find out the hard way, that “Ooops, I did it again.” Until eventually, a hard habit of rigorously honoring our promises to ourselves becomes ingrained in our behavior because we have experienced the consequences of not doing so.
Success is achieved by consistently being proactive to keep the promises we make. It’s important, first and foremost, to identify the #1 Top Promise you make to yourself. It’s the bedrock upon which your future success will be made. The #1 promise that I made to myself that made me a millionaire was to always be honest with myself and others; regardless of a fear of losing a perceived advantage, and not to align myself with those who don’t share the same value.
At the end of the day, there is great profit to be gained by honoring the wisdom of Shakespeare on how to live a blessed, balanced and successful life…
This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man/Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”
In closing my shocking confession: I guess I had to learn the lesson the hard way. I had promised myself that I was not going to do business ever again with this company because they had failed to be honest in advising me of a key known fact that negatively impacted the valuation of the property that I was purchasing from them. I discovered it only after the fact. Fast forward 4 years later. The same group came forward with an incredible offer to purchase another property. I kept saying not interested. The “not interested” position remained in effect for months. Until the day, they came back with an offer that I felt I couldn’t refuse. It was incredible! I said to myself, the past is the past, and surely, last experience wouldn’t repeat itself. Boy, o’ boy, was that a huge mistake. Almost immediately upon closing the deal, I suffered huge problems getting them to honor their guarantees which cost me a financial loss and a lot of stress. I had failed to keep my promise to myself not to do business with people who didn’t share the value of honesty and had allowed myself to succumb to the allure of the great deal. I’ve lived and I have learned and earned.
What is your #1 Promise to yourself to keep no matter what? Honoring it is your ticket to a rich, rewarding and successful life.