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Are YOU a Promise-Keeper? Why Promise-Keeping is a Core Part of Our Inner Leadership

January 22, 2010

Updated March 24, 2014

Hands shakingFirst things first: today’s post is not about New Year resolutions. It’s a bit of a rant, which is allowed, given that I’m in my late fifties. More seriously, it’s about how we make and keep promises to one another, whether at home, in our communities or at work, and how we nurture relationships. Oops, I almost forgot a fourth element: our expanding virtual global communities, where we increasingly meet people from around the world to do business, develop social conversations, share information and ideas, and offer support in times of need.

It’s the latter where I’d like to turn for a moment.

Since jumping with both feet into blogging and website creation in early 2009, I’ve been blown away with what’s going on in cyberspace. We receive an onslaught of negative information everyday from the media. Turn on CNN, FOX or the mainstream channels, or read the newspaper, and see the carnage. Happy news is getting hard to come by–but it is out there.

I’ve been surprised with not just the massive and growing volume of blogs but perhaps even more so with how frank and open many bloggers are with their readers (and yes, the voyeurs out there, doing their peeking and negative comments). Three prominent bloggers come to mind.

First, there’s Penelope Trunk, who started Brazen Careerist and who has moved on to other endeavors. Penelope’s about as open as you can get, talking about business challenges, how she copes with Asperger’s syndrome and other tawdry issues.

Yes, she’s been attacked by some of her readers, but Penelope’s readership community is very loyal, offering their support to her when she’s had a difficult time. What some, even many, people may not get in her posts are the teachings from her openness. Her brutal honesty has brought out into the open such issues as abortion (witness her television interview a couple of years ago with the well-coiffed and ego-centric Rick Sanchez of CNN, who was later sacked).

A second blogger who turns Cyberspace blue from her creative vocabulary is Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz. Naomi openly shares her knowledge in a very direct and humorous way, and recently posted a comment about losing her step-dad. Her readers stepped up to offer their support and condolences. No one made them do it; it was all self-initiated.

And a third blogger is Tanis Miller’s Attack of the Redneck Mommy. Based in rural Alberta, Miller’s posts range from hilarious to X-rated to sad and poignant. She doesn’t seem to hide anything from her readers, but in sharing some of life experiences she also helps raise awareness on sensitive issues. For a good chuckle, read about her sister’s birthing experience. Revenge is Sweet.

People sunset So what’s with my promise-keeping post title?

In creating my own global network through and building a readership with my own blog, I’ve met too many wonderful people to count. In fact, I’ve been amazed at how people offer to provide suggestions, advice or just plain support. For example, when I was writing my first e-book several years ago most of the reviewers were people I’d never met. They lived all over the world. But they committed to reading the drafts, which took time, and made very substantial suggestions. There are other instances where my virtual friends have been helpful.

And herein lies the rub: I’ve been able to count on these folks in some cases more than people I’ve known in my home city for many years.

So when I hear negative comments in the media about the shallowness of social media and virtual relationships, I’ve learned that this is pure BS. My only regret is that I’ll never be able to meet my virtual friends face-to-face.

Stephen Covey, of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame, has talked about the importance of promise keeping. In an age of jet-speed change, volatility and unpredictability, one key element of who we are as human beings is keeping promises to one another. This is something we do NOT want to lose, and it indeed requires daily work and commitment.

So the next time you’re about to make a promise to your boss, spouse, child, friend, co-worker, neighbor, or virtual acquaintance, ask yourself: “Do I really intend to keep it?” If the answer is a solid yes, then go ahead and make it. It’s a core part of your inner leadership and goes to the heart of your personal integrity to honor all of your promises.

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.

– Lao Tzu

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Jim TaggartTake a moment to meet Jim.

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