Friday, May 28, 2010


I was talking to a fella recently about a business deal and at the end I asked if we needed to write anything down. He stuck out his hand and said "This is all I need." We shook on it and as far as I'm concerned that was as strong as any contract.

I'm a born and bred Mid-Westerner. Missouri to Illinois. In twenty years of running an insurance sales office I noticed a distinct pattern. Not absolute but enough to notice. Mid-Westerners showed up to meetings on time. Southwester's and Californio's didn't. I was told once to -just relax. It's no big deal. We're just not as uptight.

They miss the point. It's not about being uptight. It's about honor. You agreed to the meeting then you agreed to show up on time. It's a matter of your word. If you can't make it on time, say so. One of my very pet peeves is being promised something will happen, then it doesn't. It is really easy. Say what you're going to do, then do it. Don't say it unless you mean it, if you mean it then do it. If you can't do it, say you can't do it. If you intend to do it, but something gets in the way, call as soon as you can and explain why you can't do it.

Why do I bring this up? I see many young people brought up to be okay with just being kinda close to honoring their word. "Don't worry about him, he's always late." Bad on him. If I can't trust him to keep his word about being on time, I can't trust him to keep his word on much else.

"Son, I want you to take out the garbage."
"Sure, Dad."
"Son, why didn't you take out the garbage?"
"What's the big deal, they'll be around again in a couple of days."
"The big deal has nothing to do with garbage. The big deal has to do with you giving me your word you would take it out."
"I didn't give you my word."
"You agreed to take it out."
"But I never said I give you my word."
"Who's words were they?"

This can be a lesson for my daughter and all her friends but it's a lesson for some older folks too. We were at a gathering of family and friends and one of the invited called to say they would be a few minutes late. This was met with amusement. They must be really uptight to call just because of a few minutes. My thought was - right on!

How do you teach someone? Tell'm, tell'm what you told'm then tell'm again.

Here's the lesson. Don't say you'll do something unless you are going to do it. Don't agree to someone else's timetable unless you are positive you can meet it. If you can't say so. You can still do the thing, but it must be known that the timing will be yours. If you can't do something, or you can't do it in the timeframe requested, then say you can't do it. Don't just try to make people happy by agreeing to something you know will not come to pass. They will be much unhappier when the promised thing doesn't get done.

And, if you do these things you can go to sleep knowing that whatever else, you are an honorable person.

I guess some of you would think I'm just a grouchy old stickler.

What's that got to do with what I'm talking about.

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