Never Make a Promise You Can’t Keep

A couple of years ago I was working on an important report  regarding  a big and successful social media campaign that my boss was supposed to present to the client as soon as I finished it. Naturally, my boss was really eager to show the client our great work – and kept on asking me when I was going to finish.

In my heart I knew that it would take at least two more days to get it right, but to my surprise, my response to him when he asked for the fourth time that day was that it would be finished by the end of the day. I spent all night working desperately and was able to deliver by the time my boss got up from bed the next morning.

I had a bad feeling when I sent it to him, and added something like, “Finished, let me know if it needs improvement”. I had done my best within the given timeframe, but not anything near my desired standard. I never heard back from my boss if he liked the report or not – but it left me feeling uneasy for weeks.

Ever had that feeling? When you promise something although you know you are unable to deliver on that promise? I hate myself every time I do that. Why don’t I just tell the truth – it would make both parties happier.

I worked really hard since then on what I promise and what I don’t and I’m constantly focused on doing the opposite these days compared to what I did back then. Underpromise and overdeliver. It’s hard, but it makes both me and those around me more likely to trust me when I make a promise or commitment. And that’s an amazing feeling.

Manage the expectations of those around you, and make sure you always deliver as, or better than, promised. That way you always have small wins, instead feeling that you  let yourself and others down. Place yourself ahead, not behind.