Is A Promise a Promise – Part II

Yesterday, I was talking about when a promise is a promise, and concluded that a promise is always a promise. As I was reflecting more about this, I realized I left one important stone unturned. What about promises I make to myself?

A clear example of promises made to myself are New Years resolutions. I get all fired up at the end of the year about all that I’m going to change in the new year. A popular resolution is losing weight or getting in better physical condition. January is a boom time for gyms. During the first week of January, people charge into the gym, sign up for a membership and buy some new gym clothes. As the weeks of the new year go by, gym attendance drops rapidly.

Other popular resolutions are about money. Maybe, I want to spend less so I can save. I could also want to change my income by getting a new job or cut my debts by paying off my credit cards. Whatever the resolution, I find that by sometime in February, the enthusiasm of the resolution has waned and I’m slowly moving back into my old patterns.

So why do I do such a poor job of keeping promises to myself?  The only way to answer the question truthfully is to tell you about my experiences. For starters, I seem to have a selective case of amnesia about certain categories of personal promises. For instance, when it comes to things like food, I am clear about what’s good for me and not. I promise to only eat food that good for me and then the little voice says things like, “You’ve done so well lately, what’s a little bowl of ice cream?” or “Surely one piece of candy can’t be bad for you.”. What creates this amnesia? It’s my lack of awareness of the automatic nature of how I choose the food I eat. All diet programs that last beyond the initial program phase help the dieter become aware of what they are eating before it goes in their mouth, and whether it’s good for them or not.

The second reason, it seems hard to keep promises to myself is that I don’t see myself so clearly. When I make a promise to you and don’t do it, I have to face you. So to not have you think poorly of me, I’m more likely to do what I promise to you than myself.

This is connected to the third reason I don’t do as well keeping promises to myself as to others, which is that I have a very active rationalizer. I can make up a good story about why something I promised myself isn’t really that important. Since I don’t have to tell that story to anyone but myself, I don’t get a lot of push back.

The irony of all this is that the most important person for me to keep my promise to is myself. If I don’t start with me, how can I know I’ll be reliable with you? Today is another day, and I can start anew. I write everyday. This writing includes some things I don’t publish. In this writing, I check where I’m in integrity and where I’m not. Through this practice of self-reflection, I find that I’m becoming more reliable to myself.

What do you do that helps you be more reliable to the person you see in the mirror?

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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