ISSUE 84 ISSN 1712-468

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Helen Keller
1880–1968
Blind & Deaf Educator

My Source Experience - Journal

My Source
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This Week´s Inspiration

The Character Trait of Keeping Your Word 

Character: The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another; Moral or ethical strength; a description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.

Promise: A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; a vow.

Is your word law? 
Do you do what you say you will do? 
Do you keep your promises?

What does it cost us when we don’t keep our word? Lots! But sometimes you won’t be aware of the cost as it silently erodes your credibility and success.

In the past month, two candidates who wanted a position at CRG lost out when they did not keep their promises. They said they would forward their references and they did not. Perhaps they simply forgot. 

Do you think CRG is interested in having them on staff? Never! 

At some time or another, we have all been guilty of making a promise, then not keeping it. This applies to all the relationships we have in our lives, including work, family, friends, and being a volunteer. It also includes promises we make—then break—to ourselves.

Recently a large corporation broke its word to CRG. All the promises where in writing but because they did not appear in a legal agreement, the company is not keeping our arrangement. Technically the existing documentation would hold up in court but that’s not the point. 

Keeping promises is a sign of moral character. How can you have any kind of personal or working relationship if promises always must be documented and signed in a legal agreement? 

In reality, you can’t because then EVERY promise would come under suspicion. 

How long would you interact with an individual you could not trust? 

Certainly in North America we are witnessing the results of such pathetic lack of character. We call them law suits. Lawyers and courts are full because of unreasonable individuals, but mostly because of broken promises.

Why do governments have such low credibility? They don’t keep their promises. 

Businesses frequently overpromise and underdeliver—some on purpose, some not. What happens to your loyalty when businesses are not willing to keep their word? It’s gone, right? Our society has moved to a place where a person’s word means little, but that does not mean YOU are a person of poor character and broken promises. 

When I wanted to move into the education industry, my path included the purchase of a sales training franchise. Quite frankly, I did not have the capital to buy the franchise nor did the bank want to provide it to me. I approached a family friend who was willing to fund my start. 

Well, the first few years did not go as planned and I was unable to repay the personal loan as scheduled. But I stayed in contact and always paid the interest I owed him. I was embarrassed that I could not keep my promise and communicated this to him. 

His response was what we all would like to hear from our interactions with others. Ken, you are person who keeps his word. I am not worried that you cannot pay me now because I know that when you can, you will

At that moment, he actually had more confidence in my ability to repay him than I did. But his confidence did not come from his assessment of my ability to pay; it came from the fact that I had made a promise to him. My word was not in doubt. Knowing that he trusted me motivated me even more to honor our agreement as quickly as I could. 

The next year I earned my largest contract as a consultant and in 3 months was able to repay everything I owed him. 

So think about your life—all areas of your life, including work, family, and friends. What would others say about you? Do you keep your word? Think about promises you have made to yourself. Are you satisfied with your responses?

Even though we all have had experience with broken promises from others, the bottom line is that we can only control our own character. It may be tempting to think about changing our word for convenience and self-centered reasons, but nobility and trust are not built on broken promises. 

Pressures are put on all of us from work, clients, and family. Sometimes it seems easier to say Yes, just to relieve the pressure. 

I challenge each of us to resist. If you do sell out, you are stating that your character and values are for sale—as long as someone names the right price or applies the right amount of pressure.

The good news is that it is easy to stand out in the crowd if you keep your promises. What goes around comes around, so don’t be tempted to compromise your word. And if you overpromise and underdeliver, apologize, own it, and learn how to reduce or eliminate this situation in the future.

To help you on your journey, I am recommending five CRG resources that will help you progress by making more-informed decisions and promises: My Source EXPERIENCE Journal, Personal Style Indicator, Values Preference Indicator, Self-Worth Inventory, and the Stress and Health Indicator

This Week´s Action Steps

The Character Trait of Keeping Your Word

  1. Are you are person who keeps his or her word? Why? Why Not?
  2. What is your reputation for keeping your word—at work, with clients, and with your family and friends?
  3. Are you satisfied with your reputation? Why? Why Not?
  4. What has not keeping your word cost you in the past?
  5. When a person or business did not keep their word to you, how did you feel?
  6. To help you in your journey, engage these CRG resources:My Source EXPERIENCE Journal, Personal Style Indicator, Values Preference Indicator, Self-Worth Inventory, and the Stress and Health Indicator 
  7. What can you do today to reduce overpromising and underdelivering in all areas of your life—including promises you make to yourself?
  8. Your values and character are not for sale, so resist the pressure to say Yes now, then pay the price in eroded trust later.
  9. Choose to deal with other individuals and businesses who keep their word. When possible, move on to deal with people who keep their word.
  10. Pay attention to the release of pressure and the resulting calmness that comes to you when you know you are dealing with an individual who—no matter what—will keep his or her word.
  11. If you have been guilty of not keeping your word, forgive yourself and move on. 
  12. Encourage this strong character trait in others. You will help make the world a better place.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!.

Ken Keis


For information on CRG Resources, please visit http://www.crgleader.com.