YOU Magazine - December 2008 - Deliver on Your Promises by Jason and Jodi Womack
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Lyn Bankowski     Lyn Bankowski
AVP/SR. Mortgage Loan Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
Phone: 360-679-5633 / 360-969-5550
Fax: 360-279-1198
License: NMLS#304060 / CL-157293
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
December 2008

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Deliver on Your Promises
by Jason and Jodi Womack

Deliver on Your Promises - by Jason and Jodi Womack

Gerry knew it was time to change the way he was getting things done. For the third day in a row (since he started tracking), he arrived to the office in the morning to find a blinking light on his phone. Shrugging his shoulders, he listened to the message and heard one of his staff members' voices, checking in to see if he had done something he had promised to do. "My goodness," he thought, "how many things have I said 'yes' to?"

Leaders are not just known for their ideas, goals and promises. They are also known for how they deliver on those agreements. Are they on time? Is the project complete? Did they do everything they said they would do? As you are reading this, start writing down the promises you have made as you remember them.

As executive coaches and learning partners to leaders around the world, we define a promise as: a commitment by one person to another, agreeing to do something in the future. In addition, we know that people make many more promises to themselves than they ever could to their teams, staff, family members or clients. It can be a full–time job just remembering and managing what you already said "yes" to, let alone the new opportunities coming your way.

What is a promise all about?
It may not seem like a big deal to sit through a meeting and agree when a colleague says, "Someone needs to look into that." We normally don't blink more than twice when someone looks at us and says, "It would be great if you could do that." And, it is easy to sit down and look at a newspaper or webpage and think, "I should follow up and get more information about that."

Many people don't realize, however, that the weight of incompletion adds undue stress to their organizational systems. Whether mental or physical, holding on to unfinished business and working in a state of incompletion takes vital mental and physical energy. These are two of your most limited resources, and if you are going to be productive, you must measure and conserve them.

Consider each new day the same way you might look at a buffet. As you walk along the lineup of foods, condiments, soups and dressings, you have to be careful with just how many things you "pick up." Too often, people say "yes" to too much. Have you ever returned to the table with a plate of food that looks like a small mountain and wondered, "How am I going to eat all of this"? Well, we have found clients who feel like this when they look at a desk full of files, or an e–mail inbox full of messages – they have said "yes" to too much!

The freedom of a kept promise
How do you feel after a day of completion? You know, when you end a day and you have closed more loops, completed a project or two, returned some phone calls...even read a magazine from cover to cover and are ready to recycle it or donate it to the local library! It may seem a paradox, but here is a "workplace performance" truth: When you have structure built up around your workflow systems, you have more freedom to be creative and innovative with your work.

You see, sometimes people do not organize their offices, their digital systems or their life because they say they want to be free, open–minded and spontaneous. However, as the old saying goes, it is hard to be spontaneous if you can't find your car keys!

Likewise, some people have not yet recognized the heavy weight of an un–kept promise. Imagine for a moment you're walking through a local shopping center. As you're walking along the storefront, you look out over the parking lot and see someone you work with. You suddenly remember something they said they would do for you – and they are now about a week late from when they said it would be done. Well, as you come together to exchange pleasantries, have you ever experienced a conversation with such a person wherein they did not address the issue that you're waiting for?

When you walk away, what do you think? Is it, "I wonder if they remembered that thing they were going to do for me"? Immediately upon completing this article, we highly suggest you start a "mind sweep" in your notebook or journal. Leave a few pages blank, and start making a list of the promises you have made that you have not yet delivered on; this activity will be worth it, we promise!

Effectively managing your agreements
So, if you have already said "yes" to too much (or, you don't even KNOW all that you've said "yes" to, here are some practical activities you can use to more effectively deliver on your promises.

  1. Renegotiate an agreement – Identify something on your list that you are simply NOT going to do. Pick something that you think you "should" have started some time ago, but now that too much time has gone by you've either lost interest, or you're just not committed to doing it any longer. Once you have identified that project, and moved it onto your "not–doing" list, call the person you made the promise to. Let them know you need to renegotiate the agreement you had, and you will not be able to do what you promised.

  2. Align with a "commitment colleague" – Choose someone who, like you, is interested in realigning with their promises and willing to do what it takes to manage them more effectively. Share one strategy a week you're using to be productive and efficient with your time, your actions and your projects. Consider writing a kind of weekly "journal entry" as you move through the next 5 weeks practicing this kind of Accountability Check–in with your peer.

  3. Implement a weekly debrief – We strongly support everyone in our organization stopping once a week to "Debrief effort and results." So, consider keeping this article somewhere you can see it once every 5–7 days. Then for an hour or so, reflect on the past week of meetings, projects, tasks and promises. I always keep a blank piece of paper nearby and when (not if) I remember something I need to add to my "to do" list, I simply write it down on that sheet of paper. After I go through my entire 60–minute review process, I then spend another 20–30 minutes updating my organizational systems. (Visit for more information about the weekly debrief.)

Deliver on your promises and you will unleash the positive energy and inspirational creativity you have been missing. When you more completely (and more objectively) negotiate – and renegotiate – the agreements you make, you will have more of your life and work in order and be able to experience the qualities of potential and excellence. People will trust in new and exciting ways when they know your words and actions match in ways that bring your vision into clear focus and facilitate more of the "wins" you ALL need to continue moving forward.

Say what you're going to do...and do what you say. This builds trust in yourself, your organization, your family and your community. Trust is the currency of personal potential and professional excellence. When you trust yourself and others trust you, you can take on more. Isn't that the point of all of this anyway?

On a side note...

Under–promise and over–deliver...for the next 5 weeks.

Experiment with giving yourself a little more time, just a little lee–way in your work–a–day world of all you have to get done. Years ago, I started adding 8–72 hours to the deadlines I had some control over. When someone asks me for a proposal or a query, I let them know I will get back to them shortly, often negotiating a 2–3 day window of time. So, if on a Tuesday a potential client asks me to send them a sample contract, I say I will have it to them by Friday morning. Then, between Tuesday and Wednesday, I work on it to completion because I know I want to send the final draft early Thursday. In my mind I completed it "on time;" however, the client thinks I'm a day early!

Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA and Jodi Womack, MA founded the professional development company that helps people with their time, technology and training needs. In a world where there's too much to do, and not enough time to do it in, we help implement solutions to the daily and long term needs for people to thrive in their workplace environment. For more free tips on improving your Workplace Performance, visit

License AK# 157293 Washington Consumer Loan Company license# CL-157293 California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License# 4131067

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