The value of our word

I have been on the road a lot the last few months and this month tops it all. I just arrived back home and realized that by the end of this month I will have been home 6 days out of the 31. Guess I am living the movie “Up in Air”. When I started this series of travels a couple a months ago, I was picked up one morning at 4:30am by an entrepreneurial young cab driver. He inquired if I traveled a lot and offered a minor discount for using his services. The discount is nice but I was more interested since he didn’t drive like a maniac and was punctual so I told him I needed a ride the next week. The whole conversation took less than 3 minutes.

A week later the day before my departure, I get a call from the cab driver confirming the ride the next day. I found myself to be very impressed. I was even more impressed when the cab was sitting in my drive way the next day (at 4:25am!!) five minutes early waiting patiently for me to come down.

It occurred to me that I was so impressed because he is a rare human being. Kind, service oriented, business focused, willing to work hard and totally true to his word. I was thinking about the people I have worked with through the years. How many could I really count on to be true to their word? Honest hard working people that will tell you they can do the job AND will tell you if they cannot do the job.

When did this become a rare trait? Or has it always been? I have blogged before about how as humans we have this tendency to want to please people and thus promise things we cannot live up to. If we all would be more true to our word, all our lives would become a lot easier. Is this something we can teach our team members? Or is the corporate environment too punitive to allow this? I would love to hear your experiences.

In the mean time, my trusty cab driver has started a limo business on the side so now he is also able to pick me up from the airport. The very first week he started his business he told me about it with a lot of excitement so I asked him if he already had the car and could pick me up at the end of the week. An insanely busy week passed and only when my plane landed at SFO I vaguely remembered the limo. I had totally forgotten about it. My trusty cab driver on the other hadn’t. My phone rang the moment I walked out of the plane to tell me where to go. He is like Swiss clockwork. Now if only more of us could be like that…

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2 thoughts on “The value of our word”

  1. I really wish that it wasn’t so rare for people to keep their commitments, but I’m afraid it’s all too rare. Our word is precious, and the source of our power as leaders, but many people tend not to take their commitments as seriously as I’d like them to. I’m obsessed with being a person who is known for keeping my promises, and I take making commitments very seriously. When other people don’t behave with the same rigor I’m more than disappointed . . . I’m careful with how vulnerable I allow myself to be with them, and how much I depend on them for in the future. When trust is reduced, as it is when commitments are not met, the world of possibilities that we might have created together shrinks. Of course there are times when it’s just a misunderstanding, and I like to make a habit of using the API “Assumption of Positive Intent” . . . “What would have to be true for this behavior to make sense?” Sometimes I discover it was just a simple misunderstanding. Humans – so complicated!

  2. It is lack of commitment to one’s word that results in one of the most important (and time-consuming) roles of a project manager being “follow-up to be sure people follow-through.”

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