Good intentions make promises, but people with good character keep them.There’s a funny thing about a promise or commitment. They are so easy to make and, many times, so difficult to deliver on.
As I write this I can think of a small list of promises I made in the last several months. I will keep all of them, because that is the right thing to do. But there are several of them I regret making, and I am tempted daily to get out of them.
I need to manage that temptation, because if I renege on my promise I will hurt someone AND I will hurt myself.
That is the part many people miss. When they break a promise or a commitment, they understand that they are actively hurting someone else. But for some reason they don’t get it that they are also hurting themselves.
You see, when you break a promise or commitment you are deciding to be a person that lacks integrity. A part of your very core is damaged. You even become conditioned not to keep other promises. When repeated over time, that conditioning turns you into a very selfish, non-caring, hard and cold individual who will do most anything to get what you want – no matter the impact on others.
Jeff and I are dealing with a situation right now where a person has made a commitment to us that they are reneging on. It doesn’t feel good. I feel angry and hurt by it because I thought this individual was a person of integrity. I guess not.
But the situation also makes me sad. What kind of person do you need to be to look another person in the eye and promise to do something, and then not do it? You must feel pretty bad about yourself. And that is sad. So rather than fix what is troubling you, you take steps to hurt someone else. I can imagine that this person is also hurting others: friends, children, spouse, boss, employees, donors, etc. It is not good.
I want to get you in touch with how it feels to a donor when you make a promise to her and then do not keep it. Here are some of the promises you have likely made:

  • You promised the donor that her gift would make a difference about something she cares about. Have you kept that promise?
  • You said her relationship with you means a lot to you. Have you proven that in how you treat her?
  • You promised to fully address any concerns or questions she might have. Have you done that – in every situation?
  • You said you would understand if she needed to change her giving level or frequency. Do you really understand and accept that, or are you secretly angry and disappointed by it?

You may have made other promises. Did you keep them all? If not, get in touch with how the donor feels about your broken promises. Think about how your actions affect her – and you.
And if you have kept all of your promises and commitments to your donors, good for you! I know some of them were very hard to keep. But you did it. And you are a better person for it.