I have a number of recurring payments set up on my bank account. These payments are agreements I have entered into with other parties that gives them permission to deduct a certain amount of money on a regular basis from my account. Every month I need to ensure that I have enough money in there to satisfy these agreements.
And I need to keep track of all of them, or I run the risk of running out of money.
If it looks like I won’t have enough money in my account to satisfy the transaction, I should contact them and let them know, make a new agreement with them around the payment processing, or cancel the service altogether if I no longer need it.
Our word is like this.
Our word is the currency of our business and personal relationships. We move through the world every day and we give our word to things. We say we will do a certain thing, or not do a certain thing. We make a commitment about when it will be done by. And then sometimes we don’t follow through.
This leads to a bankruptcy of integrity. It’s like setting up recurring payments without the money to fulfill on it.
I have spent most of my life giving my word loosely, and not keeping track of it. The result was a mess of unfulfilled promises, a diminished sense of myself in my mind and the minds of others, and a constant sense of anxiety.
We can’t be in integrity if we can’t keep and honor our word.
Keeping our word and honoring our word are not the same thing. Keeping our word means doing what we said we would do, when we said we would do it. Honoring our word is how we stay in integrity when we are unable to keep our word.
Honoring our word looks like this: As soon as we know we cannot keep our word, we inform all parties involved at the earliest possible opportunity, and we clean up any mess we've caused because of it.
This is so simple. If I say the TPS report will be emailed to my supervisor by 5pm ET on Friday, it should be in his inbox before that time. If it’s not going to be ready, I need to contact him at the earliest possible opportunity that I become aware that it won’t be ready, and request to make a new agreement.
This should not occur after I fail to meet the 5pm deadline. It should not occur at 4:55 pm, unless that was honestly the first moment I became aware of the delay. It should occur as soon as it becomes clear I am going to miss the deadline.
Whenever we fail to keep or honor our word, we are living out of integrity. And if we look hard enough at our lives, we start to see places where this out of integrity behavior crops up more frequently than in other places. This is something to notice and look into, and can lead us to discover places where we are out of alignment in our work or relationships.
When we get committed to keeping our word with people, something changes in us. We refrain from making commitments. We think hard before agreeing to anything. We see our word as a sacred trust and something we don’t give lightly.
We become someone that can be counted on.
This distinction around integrity, and how integrity impacts every dimension of my life, business and relationships, has been transformative in my life. It all started with reading the article linked below. I will continue to blog about it over the coming year, but if you want to dig into it for yourself, download it for free (like, really free... no opt in, nothing) at the link below.