Fundamental #4: Honor Commitments
The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.[/content_box]
Fundamental #4: Honor Commitments
Deliver on your commitments every time. This includes being on time for all phone calls, appointments, meetings, and promises. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. If a commitment can’t be fulfilled, notify others early and agree on a new commitment to be honored.
I think it was January of 2014 when we were first introduced to David Friedman and the concept of the fundamentals. Dave Bennett had heard him at a Vistage meeting and was really excited about what he had to say. He sent me the recording and said that this was one thing I should listen to. I started listening to the presentation a little jaded. When he started talking about the fact that company values were worthless I was about ready to turn it off. Then he stated why. He explained why they fell and used my most precious value as the example of why they don’t work. Respect. He related how everyone relates to respect differently. The reason that it can’t stand alone as a company value is that we all have a different perspective of what it means to us. For me, my definition of respect is one of my most closely held values.
I grew up in Texas. For those of you from Texas that is pretty much all I have to say, but for the rest of you I will explain what I mean. I grew up with the understanding that nothing was more valuable or important than your name. That tied in to respect for your name. If your honor was defamed unjustly it was your responsibility to reclaim that honor. Lubbock Texas wasn’t really the wild west and I was never taught by my parents to defend your honor via bloodshed, but it was something that was almost a part of my heritage. Whether it is the Comanche passed on from Quanah Parker on the Crawford side of the family or the Martin side of the family who came to Texas in covered wagons in the early 1800s it is something that is simply a part of my blood. To me, my feelings of the way to resolve disrespect is simply how my great grandparents handled it. Take ten paces, turn, and fire! I realize that isn’t exactly the politically correct view today of talking it out, but it is how I have always viewed my concept of respect and honor. When I listened to David Friedman’s discussion of how many of these simple words mean something different to each person based on their own experiences and how the idea of fundamentals with the daily discussion of what it means to us it really hit home. My closely held values of honor and commitment may not exactly be yours. This gives us the language to discuss what they mean to each of us without having to duel. (Which is probably a good thing, since you would probably lose J )
So what does it mean to really honor your commitments? I think the key to this fundamental is the word honor. It doesn’t say “Keep you commitments”. The reality of it is that we can’t always keep what we have committed to no matter how hard we may try or how much we want to. Sometimes things are simply out of our control. The key is to honor them. How do we honor them? As soon as we realize that there is something that will prevent us from completing something that we have committed to we advised the affected parties and come to a new agreement. This isn’t a license to slack, but a realization of reality. Sometimes honoring our commitments means that we have to work late, cancel our plans, and fulfill what we had agreed to do. Sometimes it simply isn’t possible. This isn’t an excuse for procrastination. If I procrastinate until the last minute and something prevents me from my commitments that is on me. This fundamental ties in really closely with last week’s fundamental of ‘own it”. If you own it, do it. No excuses!
One of my personal biggest pet peeves is not being on time. I would rather wait for fifteen or twenty minutes being early than be late. To me that is respect. Respect for other peoples time. About three minutes after a meeting is supposed to start if everyone isn’t there I start to really get irritated. And if you haven’t called or emailed ahead of time I really start to burn. Even so I realize that there are areas where I let other people down as well. Part of this is my fault. It relates directly to the fundamental #18 of getting clear on expectations and others responsibility of fundamental #24 of knowing the goal. All of this is a team effort and no one does it right all of the time. This is why we have the daily opportunity to dig in to each of these fundamentals.
Bill Gates said “Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved”. I believe that an organization that lasts is one that is made up of individuals who commit and honor their commitments. When I started at Connections for Business almost 20 years ago as an intern I had nothing going for me other than commitment. I wasn’t the programmer, the engineer, or the business maven. I was simply a guy committed to do whatever needed to be done for the company. If you want to be inspired google “quotes by Vince Lombardi”. One of my favorites is that “Most people fail not because of lack of desire but from lack of commitment.”
What do you desire and what are you committed to? More importantly what will you do to honor those commitments?