A few months ago as I was doggedly working on one of the many chores that is my lot in life at home – I was busily watching TV – I heard the whirr of the printer coming from our study.
A few minutes later my long-suffering wife, Gimalle, appeared and strategically placed sheets of paper around our condo, including one right on the TV screen.
In very large letters the note said:
THIS IS A NO-FLY ZONE
EXCUSES DON’T FLY AROUND HERE
She then turned and gave me that look. You know which look I mean; the one that screams “It’s all your fault.”
This was followed by a fascinating and engaging conversation which focussed on the habit I have worked so long to master – procrastination – and why Gimalle felt this was not a good thing.
Using her fingers to check off each item she methodically listed every commitment I had made regarding my To Do list that I’ve not yet had the time to complete.
I pointed out that while I had, indeed, agreed to do all those things, at no time had I said “when” these things would be done.
Gimalle’s only response was to tell me my excuse was feeble.
We then had a long discussion around these are newly placed signs and agreed to enthusiastically attack my list at the expense of reducing my time spent doing important research in front of the TV.
You will be pleased to know that my list is now complete and I’m awaiting further instructions.
A few days later I was trying to garner support for my oppressed life by sharing the story with a client of mine, Dawn. Dawn runs a busy design studio and immediately told me how much time in her day is spent listening to excuses offered by her colleagues.
She acknowledged that most often the excuses offered are legitimate – the reasons for doing or not doing what her staff had committed to doing or not doing work were valid and understandable.
“But,” she explained, “all the reasons in the world for why we didn’t do what we said we’re going to do – regardless of their validity – doesn’t alter the indisputable fact THAT it wasn’t done.” In her opinion, when you say you are going to do something – DO IT, and if you say you aren’t going to do something – DON’T.
Dawn asked if she could steal Gimalle’s idea and place similar signs around her office and naturally, after exacting a heavy royalty, I agreed.
Since then I have shared this story with numerous clients and I now know that these NO FLY ZONE signs are hanging in a number of workplaces.
Interestingly – every single business owner or manager who has placed these signs in their workspace have reported back to me a significant drop in promises not kept.
I now use this routinely with my new clients in discussing their expectations and of me and my expectations of them.
Last week I began my blog with a quote from my client Dale. He profoundly said, “When it is important we make time – when it isn’t we make excuses.”
When we couple that wisdom with Dawn’s statement that “It isn’t why we didn’t do it – it’s THAT we didn’t do it,” the message is crystal clear.
When you make a commitment – honor it, even when faced with 1,000 reasons why not to do so.
Sadly, for so many of us, the commitments we fail to live up to most often, are those that will benefit us greatly. We just give up when things get tough.
Perhaps we would all benefit by placing Gimalle’s signs in places where we cannot fail to see them.
Till we read again.
P.S.My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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