From Purpose to Promise

A few days ago, a client called to share his thanks for something we had worked on nearly two years ago. He shared that I had encouraged him to work with his team on articulating core promises that they could make and uphold to each other as well as to their customers and suppliers – and then consistently check in with each other and their stakeholders on how well they were keeping their promises, how they could better clarify and uphold these promises.

He discussed how initially he thought this idea was easy and rather self-evident (as they had done their work on mission, vision, values, and purpose). But, he continued, he couldn’t believe how powerful it was to bring it viscerally home to the idea of a promise. By keeping dialogue about the promises alive each week, he saw improvements in communication, awareness, creativity, and alignment – and the organization was thriving.

This conversation has bounced in my head for several days now. What promises am I making, and how well am I upholding them? What would it mean to promise to deliver on my commitments fully? Maybe I could start with “committing to 20% less so I show up on time, every time.”

I feel like a promise brings us home to the core of who we are, including in business and organizations. A promise asks us to reflect on our priorities, values, and relationships. It becomes a personal thing, a matter of integrity. No skip overs or buts….and it can bring us back to realness. No hyperbole or Hail Marys. Honesty. Breath. Reflection. Intention. And maybe promises are a way to rebuild trust in the systems that have become cracked.

Living our promises in all the roles we play (as leaders, professionals, friends, parents, etc…) is a daily practice and conversation of growth. How about this week, we all sit down with those closest to us (at work and at home) to discuss and write down the core promises we have to each other and those we interact with (even if they’re through a computer). And we reflect on what comes up and where we need to focus on better alignment and agreement to uphold our promises.
Step by step to the power of all we are.
P.S. Every day I get more excited about the kick-off summit of the Teton Leadership Center on September 23rd and 24th. Led by leading-edge thinkers and business practitioners, together we’ll focus on “Connecting Deeper and Engaging Wider.” This 1½ day program is a powerful way to grow and join in community on how to ignite this multi-faceted level of leadership to build a vibrant future. I hope you can join us at this transformative event. Register here.

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