Good Thursday morning to you from the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania where I’m spending the next several weeks helping my mom. I’m up here because my father passed away New Year’s Eve and left my mother with a house that’s too much for her to handle on her own. The problem is that while she needs to sell it, it isn’t ready to be sold – meaning it needs a lot of work so she can get as much as possible for it. When I left here last January, after a month, I promised her I would be back to help her finish up what needed to be done. And now I’m here.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to do that. I’m in the middle of starting up a new business, I have my own family obligations back in Texas, and spending a month up here isn’t easy. Sure I’m getting good time in with family members I don’t get to see very often and I’m scheduling speaking engagements while I’m here, but I’m giving my mom a lot of time that I don’t really have to give in order to help her out.
I do not want to make this post about me, But about keeping your commitments, but to emphasize an aspect of help we haven’t touched on yet: being a man or woman of your word. When you offer to help someone and they accept, please be sure to follow through on that promise. It’s important for many reasons. This Idea came to me this week while here, many people offer help in many ways, but never follow through. Currently I’m seeking things to make the work up here go smooth. I’m finding that many contractors, small business people, even friends say they are going to help out with this project. But I’m now having to find other ways to get this done, because they have not followed through on the commitments made to me before my trip up here.
First, how reliable you are at keeping your word reflects your character – the one thing that is completely yours and under your control. Second, if someone has accepted your offer of help, it means they need you. If you fail to follow through, it could have consequences for them, maybe serious ones. Also, you’ve heard me talk about the notion of karma before: what goes around comes around. If you don’t help someone you’ve promised to help, what do you think will happen if you ever need help down the road from the person you let down?
In order to be a man or woman of your word, there are a few things you must take into account before making any promises.
1. Do you have the skills or knowledge to actually help? I’m helping my mom by doing a lot of different things around the house – most of them painting and things like that. But some of the work that needs to be done is outside my expertise and I’m going to have to get help from someone else to do it properly. If you don’t have the skill to be helpful, make sure the person knows you’re willing to assist but also let him or her know what your limitations are.
2. Do you have the time to help? In most cases, you should not feel obligated to give more than you have to spare. If you are extremely busy and legitimately don’t have much extra time to help someone, let them know or don’t even offer to help. It’s better not to offer to help at all than to over-extend yourself. Now, I know I’m telling you this as I spend a month away from home to help my mom, but these are extenuating circumstances, as I’ll discuss in the next point.
3. Do you have the support of those around you to follow through on your offer of help? Believe me, I didn’t make the trip up here without making sure I had the blessing…or at least the understanding…of my family back home. I also made sure I had a plan in place to keep my business going while I’m away and that my partner was willing and able to pick up the slack in our other business while I’m gone. I also have one of the kids coming up here to help me out as well, but I had to have his cooperation and that meant putting some of his own plans aside. I have a lot of support and if I hadn’t had that, it would have been much more difficult for me to be here at all…and much harder for me to follow through on my promise to my mom.
4. Do you have the character to follow through? This is the tough question but it’s important. Do you find yourself often making promises that you don’t keep? Do you have big ideas but they don’t come to fruition? Remember that if you offer help and someone accepts it, they need you. If you aren’t going to see it through, don’t make the commitment in the first place. You owe it to both yourself and the person who’s counting on you not to raise their hopes if you can’t (or won’t) deliver.
I want to elaborate just a little bit more on the notion of character. If character – being a man or woman of your word; walking the walk instead of talking the talk – is a problem for you, I encourage you to focus on building character. One way you can do that in this area is to take small steps: offer a small amount of help and do it immediately. As you become accustomed to following through, offer to help more, and so one until you’ve built up a pattern, a habit, of doing what you say you will. It’s like everything we have to learn to do: start small and work your way up.
There’s a balance between doing too much for others, neglecting you and failing to help others enough. And that balance changes throughout your life. Right now, my commitment is up here. It doesn’t mean the other parts of my life are suddenly less important than they used to be. It means I gave my mom my word that I would help her and I intend to see it through. I believe if you don’t have your honor, your integrity, nothing else you have is of much value.
Until next time, I’m Tim Gillette, the Rocker Life Coach, reminding you to Live the life you always wanted, Love your life and those in it, and be the Rockstar in your world.