Promises Matter

The early 1980s recession was a severe economic recession that affected much of the world between the start of 1980 through 1983. It is widely considered to have been the most severe recession since World War II. Times were tough, especially in the job market for recently graduated college seniors.

After I graduated from James Madison University in 1983 and returned home, my Dad didn’t buy into this recession. He told me in no uncertain terms that I had 30 days to find a job and be out of the house. I worked hard during my senior year to find a job, but in 1983, only a few people secured a position right out of college. I was not one of those people.

After 30 days, I still didn’t have a job, so my father got an interview for me with Howard Johnson. I knew nothing about hotel and restaurant management, but the most important value my Dad lived was your word is your bond. You keep your promises, and he kept his. Your promise matters.

Forty years later, that “promise” opened up many opportunities for me. If he had not kept his word, I would have never met my future mentor and future wife at Howard Johnson’s in Charlotte. Promises not only matter but may set you toward your date with destiny.

That mentor invested thirteen years of his life in teaching me the mindset of success. Countless hours talking, introducing me, and showing me how leaders lead. In May 1997, he and I met in his office for the last time. That was the day he shared with me he was dying of lung cancer and passed his notes he wrote in 1929 to me, making me promise to him that I would not “let it die with me.” As my Dad taught me, your word is your bond. Promise made.

For close to twenty years, I did not fulfill that promise as I was on another course. I was focusing on what I learned about success and trying to implement it. For approximately twelve of those twenty years, I was going through a phase, where I thought I was growing and contributing, and at times, I was. But many times I was in a mindset of significance, not living the promise that I made.

But on January 15, 2009, I had to check my ego at the door and focus on the bigger picture, being a servant leader as it was a matter of life and death. That moment mattered as it was a vital reference for me that the moments of my life prepared me for that defining moment. Approximately eighteen hours after the Miracle on the Hudson, the promise my Mom said to me when I was a young boy and then again in the aisle in row fifteen of US Airways 1549; If you do the right thing, God will take care of you, was fulfilled.

Promises matter.

When Cindy and I were writing my book Moments Matter is when I found those notes that my mentor laid on my lap in May 1997. Immediately, I felt a lump in my throat as I began remembering those times with him but more importantly, the promise I made that I did not keep. It was time to bring the promise I made to life and fulfill it. That promise was the inspiration for me not only to write Moments Matter, but walk my talk and show, tell and teach what I had promised to do.

The promise I made in 1997 mattered and is now being fulfilled.

As we approach the times of Passover and Easter, these two holidays are the epitome of why promises matter. In the Passover, God promised protection from the plague of death and freedom from slaveryEaster is the fulfillment and proof of promises restored. In the resurrection,  Jesus demonstrates that the “blood of the new covenant” saves His people from their sins.

The upcoming week is a time to reflect and be grateful that our Creator showed that the promises made were fulfilled because they mattered and changed the course of history.

Promises are your commitments. Whether the commitment is to yourself or someone else, making a promise is a commitment that you will keep your word. It is a commitment that reinforces trust.

Keeping your promises lays the foundation for trust and respect. People are looking for consistency and congruency, and it allows others to build faith in us.

As my friends and partners, Larry Levine and Darrell Amy, teach, trust is critical for your business success. With the uncertainty in the economy, it has never been more important to be able to build and sustain trust with prospects and clients. And how you build trust is keeping the promises you make and keep.

Take a few minutes over the next week and reflect on the promises you have made that you have not fulfilled. Write them down and make a goal to take whatever action you need to fulfill those promises. In fulfilling these promises, you will find it’s the most incredible feeling in the world. You will not only be serving others and a role model for your family but have a strong reference why your