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Your Promises

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What can be broken but can’t be held?

I heard this riddle last weekend during a speaking engagement in Austin Texas. I’d never heard it before, but loved it the moment I heard it. It's a promise, of course. And oh man can those ever be broken.

I thought a great deal about how much we take promises for granted sometimes. I remember in our childhood, if you wanted to prove something to someone (but weren’t a hundred percent sure or truthful) you’d promise.

“My dog had ten puppies last night,” insists a child. Their dog only had five puppies, of course. But when their friend responds with a doubtful look, they respond with “I promise.” Now, if their dog had actually had ten puppies, they might have countered instead with "I swear!" This is how it was in the circles I grew up in, at least.

Is it possible that even as children we are taught that promises are okay to break? It’s our word, it’s our way of shutting someone up by ‘promising’ to do something even if you have zero intentions of following through. Promising gets them out of your hair; promising buys you some time; promising gets you out the door and out of a sometimes awkward situation.

But really, what is a promise? According to Webster’s, a promise is ‘…a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.’

So the question for today is, how seriously do you take the promises you are making?

Better yet, how seriously do you take the promises others are making to you?

If you’re not a promise keeper, chances are you don’t deserve to be someone who gets what they're promised.

If you haven't already begun, you need to start standing in your word. Be that person who can be relied upon; be that person who makes a promise and sticks to it no matter what. Be a person of integrity. Why is that so difficult for some people? Please keep those promises you are making to others.

Another important question for you to consider: are you keeping the promises you are making to yourself? This is a big one. Even if you're not a promise-breaking machine when it comes to others, you might be like the majority -- those who don't see the implications of breaking promises to themselves.

If you're going to promise yourself something, stick to your guns and don't let yourself down. That's a slippery slope.

By the way, the only thing worse than breaking a promise to yourself, is breaking a promise to your kids. Don’t do that EVER! We’re programming them on how to walk in their integrity and keeping a promise is an important place to start. Also, it’s just a dick move to break a promise to a kid, seriously!

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