Commitment. This is the most important word in my vocabulary. When I make a commitment, it means that I will absolutely, without a doubt, accomplish what I promised to. Commitment is an absolute. The words maybe, might and try do not belong anywhere near the word commitment.

I spent the first 3-1/2 years of my professional life in a sales organization – a very intense sales organization. We stood in front of a room of our peers every single Monday morning at 7:00am and made a COMMITMENT that we were to accomplish for the upcoming week. If anybody heard you use the word “try”, they would challenge you. “Are you going to actually hit your commitment this week or are you going to ‘try’”, was a very common question. We eliminated the word “try” from our vocabularies. “Trying” is a pre-meditated excuse. It leaves you an out. Don’t leave yourself an out. When you make a commitment, you do absolutely everything in your power to honor it.

If I showed up to a sales meeting having missed my prior week’s commitment, the questions started. “Why did you stand up here last week and say you were going to do [something] and NOT do it?” How is that for accountability? It didn’t matter if there was a good reason for missing your commitment, there was always something more that you could have done to accomplish it. I remember being a college intern and one of my sales managers asking the group what type of person we wanted to be. He asked us if we wanted to be one who said we would do something and actually did it, or if we wanted to be a person who constantly made promises that we didn’t honor. That was an extremely powerful question. It really made me think. I made a decision in my first couple weeks that I didn’t just want to be a person whose word meant something. I wanted to be a person whose word was absolute gold. I have a vision statement that I read aloud every morning and one of the most important affirmations on that sheet is the following, taken directly from my vision statement: “I am a commitment-oriented person and the second I say I will do something, it gets done. My word is gold. I never make promises that I cannot keep and people admire the power of my words”.

Two things happen when your mind shifts to commitment-mode, as I call it. First, you start really thinking of how you answer requests for your time and energy. If someone asks you if you can get something done by tomorrow, and you can’t, you speak up. Instead of just agreeing, you give a realistic timeframe and set an expectation for the requester. This puts you in a very professional light. The second thing that happens, is you give yourself and everyone else a realistic timeframe and/or measurable goal or expectation for an accomplishment. It’s really easy to confidently say something like this: “John, I am not going to be able to get that proposal to you tomorrow, but, I will have it on your desk at noon on Wednesday.” You just defended your own schedule and your own time, suggested an alternative, and gave a reasonable deadline to be expected of yourself and all parties involved are aware of it. It’s a win-win for everybody. The more you do this, the more people will begin to respect your word. ***BONUS IDEA*** If you really want to impress somebody, do everything you can to get the aforementioned “proposal” to “John [made-up]” prior to the expectation you set! Boom! That’s much better than promising Tuesday and being a day late.

So asking you the tough question a sales manager asked me in the first month of my professional life: What type of person do you want to be? If you’re not where you would like to be – work at it. This is a skill that can be learned by anybody. I was fortunate in being in an environment where this was the most prevalent theme. It still takes practice – like anything worth learning in life. I think deep down, everybody wants to be the person that people say, “WOW! When he/she says something, or makes a promise, it ABSOLUTELY, gets done. You can totally count on him/her!” Challenge yourself to get better at this. It is a skill that will set you apart from your peers and build a heck of a reputation for yourself. Better yet, set a COMMITMENT, to get better at committing. I know you knew that was coming 😉