When you agree to meet someone at 8:00, how important is it to you to be there at 8:00 and not 8:10, 8:05, or even 8:01?
In my last issue, we discussed the value of adding value to others. That also means not taking value from others, or disrespecting them.
Everyone has the same 24 hours/day, and time is valued. To waste another’s time is to take value from them, showing them disrespect. You also disrespect yourself!
Besides disappointing others, you devalue yourself!
What Is A Commitment?
Let’s start with the basics.
A commitment is an agreement, with yourself and/or others, to accomplish a result. Assuming you’re realistic in your commitments, and life doesn’t get in the way, you’ll strive to meet your commitments.
To be meaningful, commitments must include a level of quality of the result and a time of completion. Otherwise, they’re open-ended and not specific enough to constitute a true commitment.
If you agree to help a friend cut firewood, then it’s important to arrive with any tools you agreed to provide at the agreed time. If you promised to bring a chainsaw to start at 9:00 AM and you show up at 9:30 without the saw, you’re out of integrity. You’ve devalued your friend and yourself.
The time element in a commitment is a key piece of the commitment. If your friend has a commitment to do something else at noon, and you arrive at 9:30 instead of 9:00, you’ve shortened the available work time by 16%. That’s 16% of his time you’ve effectively wasted, and probably 16% or more of your credibility with him lost.
Even worse, your own sense of self-worth is diminished, reducing your confidence and, therefore, your productivity.
What Does Honoring Your Time Commitments Mean?
Anyone who doesn’t live in a solo bubble makes time promises to others – lunch dates, Zoom call times, webinar or meeting attendance, etc.
Also, people living in the real world experience unexpected interruptions to their planned schedules. There will be times when you simply cannot keep a time promise you made yesterday or a week or more ago.
You can stay in integrity when unexpected circumstances prevent you from keeping a promise. The moment you’re aware of the schedule change, advise the others affected. If the change significantly impacts others’ lives, offer to do anything within your power to mitigate that impact.
Of course, the importance of commitments also applies to any other promise you make. As most people do from time to time, I’ve had times when I couldn’t make a promised payment. When I contact my creditor ahead of time and explain my situation, they’re always very willing to work with me. If you’ve been there and not made the early call, try It the next time something prevents you from keeping a promise. It may come as a pleasant surprise how well it works when you do.
Why is it Important to Honor Your Commitments?
When you live in integrity, you feel good about yourself. You sleep well at night. You believe you deserve better things in your life and business.
Recently a book was recommended to me that addresses this idea as well as I’ve seen it described. In 2019, Gary Kadi, a coach to the dentistry industry, wrote (actually updated) Raise Your Healthy Deserve Level. He explains that, in life, you don’t get what you deserve – you get what you believe you deserve. He discusses several approaches to raising your healthy deserve level. I won’t go into all of them here, but suffice it to say the issue he considers most important is attention to time commitments. Dentists can expect their patients to be on time, pay on time, and pay a premium for a premium service only when they operate that way themselves, without fail.
Of course, while dentists are Kadi’s chosen example, the concept applies to you, me and every other person on the planet. If you’re careless about keeping your time commitments, you’re probably careless about other commitments as well. My friend and mentor Ben Hardy says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
Where I live in Argentina, there is a cultural tendency to be very lax about time commitments, sometimes even for days at a time. When a delivery promised for Tuesday shows up on Saturday, it’s frustrating for those who expect better. However, I think the most important result of this attitude is that the many Argentinians who operate without regard to their time commitments don’t believe they deserve much from life, and that’s what they get!
How Does it Help in Delivering Value?
In my last issue, I talked about how valuable it is to provide value to others. That’s how you get what you want in life.
One of the best ways to bring value to others is to do what you say you’ll do. That tells the other people involved in any interaction with you that you honor them.
As we discussed earlier, when you can’t do what you promised, as will happen, the next best thing is to explain that you won’t be able to perform as promised. (don’t make excuses – just say it’s not going to work) It’s important to do that as early as you know you won’t be able to perform. Then do anything you can to minimize the impact on those affected.
When you handle your affairs this way, it tells others that you find them worth your attention. If you consider someone not worth your attention, then don’t make promises to them!
Even more important is that when you do what you say you’ll do you’re internally integrous. You’re unconflicted, and you believe you deserve good things from life.
Tips on How You Can Demonstrate Time Commitment Value
The first thing you can do to set yourself up as a timely person is to tell yourself the story that you are one who honors your time commitments. We all know people who tell themselves and others the story that they’re always late. Then they prove it by starting to get ready for a 10:00 appointment at 9:45 when they know full well it will take them 20 or 25 minutes to get to it.
A coaching friend of mine is fond of saying, “Change your story – change your life.” This is very true. The stories we tell ourselves, and hear ourselves tell others, determine how we function.
So if you’ve always been one who is always late, you can change that by changing your story to “It’s important to me to be on time.” You’ll be amazed at how quickly things change!
In order to help yourself maintain the new habit of being on time, a couple of things that work well are:
- Using a calendar religiously. Electronic calendars work best because it’s easy to add whatever information is necessary about the appointment, and, when things change, it’s just a couple of clicks to make the appropriate change on the calendar.
- If strictly honoring your time commitments is a new concept for you, it can help to set alarms early enough so you’re reminded to do what’s necessary to keep the commitment. Smartphones have the ability to accommodate multiple alarms up to a week in advance, so you could set up all the necessary alarms at the beginning of the week for all the commitments you know of at that time. Then add others as they arise.
We can argue that time is the most valuable commodity in the world. It’s available in immutable, fixed quantities to everyone. No one can manufacture more of it. What varies, though, is the value people derive from their allotted time.
Be one who derives the best value for time, for yourself and for others, and life will reward you handsomely. Waste your or others’ time, and you’ll find life and relationships difficult!
Note: Archived issues of The Unity Community are available here. Search that page for keywords representing your particular interest. Most articles offer suggestions for ways of improving business and personal relationships. Keep in mind that business is done by…people. Every business concern is essentially an inter-personal concern.
A “Shot in the Arm” Every Day!
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