“Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” – Brian Tracy
Everyday before I fell asleep my Dad would ask me whether or not I was going to school the next day. Now… I wasn’t nine years old, it was 2011 and I was sixteen. He needed to ask me because at the time I was missing more school than I was attending. At the time, I was virtually always sleepy, I felt heavy and a constant cloud of negativity was weighing me down. My depression not only made me feel weak and that life had no meaning, it destroyed the most important relationship I had in my life.
Every night my Dad would ask me if I was going to school the next day. Every night I said yes. Every morning, however, was a different story. Every morning, I fought and I struggled with my Dad. Nine times out of ten, I won. I got back in bed and slept till twelve or one o’clock. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that those wins, were some of the most devastating losses of my formative years.
Amid all of that struggle, I was picking up the pieces of the most important relationship in my life: the relationship with my word. Meaning, I said, but I didn’t do. I said I was getting out of bed in the morning, but my actions told a different story.
Can you remember a time you didn’t keep your word?
Maybe it was this morning…
Did you tell yourself you were going to get out of bed at a certain time, but hit snooze and fell back asleep?
Did you tell yourself you were going to eat a healthy breakfast, but instead you stopped for fast food because it was more convenient?
Did you tell yourself you were going to go to the gym today, but felt too tired and said, “I’ll just go tomorrow?”
What about that book you said you were going to write? Or that homework you said you were going to start? Or that book you wanted to read? When you said you were going to be there at 5pm, but you showed up at 5:15pm?
How many times do we commit our word to something and lack the integrity to follow through? For most, including myself, it’s every single day. My example at sixteen years old is only a reflection of an entire cultural and societal lack of integrity. As Stephen Covey points out,
“honesty is making your words conform to reality. Integrity is making reality conform to your words.”
Your word creates your world. Here’s what happens when you don’t keep your word.
You Lose Confidence In Yourself
If you consistently break your word, you will consistently feel less and less confident about your ability to achieve.
Every time you set a goal and miss the mark, you lose certainty in yourself.
Every time you make a promise and break it, you lose your personal power.
If you’re like me at sixteen, you currently have this formula twisted. I was speaking to a friend I met recently named Gillian, most would admire her for her accomplishments as a top graduate across the entire Country, yet, she confided in me a lack of confidence in herself. She believed that her lack of confidence was the reason she wasn’t her commitments. A lack of confidence was holding her back from accomplishing her goals and doing what she said she would do. Like Gillian, most people need to reverse that equation. And like Gillian, most people have limitless potential for growth if they just focused on their word first.
I strongly believe that authentic confidence comes as a by product from a powerful relationship with your word. Start there, confidence will follow.
Others Lose Confidence In You
When you break your promise with your friend, family, colleague, or partner you’re telling them that you don’t value them.
A broken promise demonstrates you’re unreliable.
That lack of integrity will consciously or unconsciously cause the people in your life to lose confidence in you.
Most of the promises we make on a daily basis are small commitments. We may promise to meet at a certain time, finish our homework, or pay a bill. But, it’s critical we don’t underestimate the importance of those little commitments. Every time we’re ten minutes late, or miss that deadlines by a few hours, we slowly lose peoples confidence overtime. If we can’t handle the little disciplines in life, like being on time, how will we ever be prepared for the big ones? How will we ever be trusted with that big project that could change our lives? How could we ever be chosen over a peer who is known as being reliable and dependant?
It can take your entire life to build a reputation and one broken promise to destroy it all.
I credit these four steps for the development of an extremely powerful relationship with my word. I challenge you to tackle them today!
- Schedule It– If it’s not in my calendar, it’s not happening. Whether you want to carry a written day planner or use Google calendar, start carving time out of your week for the commitments you promised to yourself and others.
- Focus On Small Wins- When I was progressing from my depression I didn’t set goals to make a million dollars. I set small goals that would help me get quick wins and build momentum. After getting into the gym three days a week, I pushed for four. Once I had four days easily, I transitioned to five. By this time I had already built up a stronger relationship with my word and more confidence. That confidence spread into every facet of my life.
- Be Accountable– One of my favourite topics to write and teach about is the power of accountability. It will force you into action immediately and help you keep your commitments.
- Say No– It’s possible you’re over committing. But, more likely, you’re committing to times, people and projects that aren’t a priority. Pick your direction and only say yes to the opportunities that align with that path.
I’m confident if you follow those four steps your word will once again have power. Schedule some small wins today and feel free to connect about any challenges we can tackle together along the way.
Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change your direction.”