Statue of Juliette Gordon Low
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“Promise little. Perform much.” - Yiddish proverb
“The liar is always lavish with oaths.” - Pierre Corneille
Often there is a cascading effect to a broken promise. If we don’t deliver on a promise to do a necessary task, others have to pick up the slack. This leads them to break commitments that they have made leading still others to view them as unreliable. If they try to explain themselves by blaming us for our misdeed, they put themselves in the position of being viewed as a whiner. If we have promised goods or money to someone else, they have often made plans which require the resources we have committed, and when we do not deliver the same trickling down of negativity occurs. Of course other times we are in the middle of this equation – someone promises us that they will do something and we make promises to others based upon that commitment. When they do not follow through, our choices are to take full responsibility and appear unreliable ourselves or to try to shift blame onto the other – neither option is very attractive. Other times we are faced with someone who cannot follow through with what they have committed to and blames yet another. And where does it end? The impact of a broken promise can ripple through dozens of lives, each individual compromised in one way or another.
Unexpected things happen now and then, but in most instances broken promises can be directly attributed to people-pleasing rooted in fear of abandonment. Making commitments just because we want other people to like us will lead us down bad paths – the temporary good-will they show us is soon shattered when we do not follow through. Obviously we need to be able to commit and we need the commitments of others to plan things and function as a society, but when doing so we need to be clear. If there are contingencies, we need to say there are contingencies so that others can plan realistically. If we inadvertently put someone in the middle, we need to make it right – a phone call to others affected will go a long way. We over-promise and under-deliver because we want to be liked or we fear that God will not come through for us with what we need in order to get things done – just two more ways that fear sets us up for the very things that we are trying to avoid. But when we legitimately do get caught off guard, we can remember that staying committed in the face of conflict produces strong character. And we can remember that under-promising and over-delivering may not get us the accolades we crave up front, but it is the foundation for creating a legacy of reliability.
Have a great Thursday !!
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