There’s a Reduced Level of Commitment…What Happened to it?

Not Keeping a Commitment is no Different Than Breaking a Promise

This past week, we discussed “confirmation” at a meeting at church. This is the process in the United Methodist Church where young people (early to mid-teens) publicly confirm their intention to live the vows made on their behalf at their baptism.

This process requires a commitment to attend ten to fifteen weekly classes as well as retreats, service projects and spiritual exercises. At the end of this process the person confirms their commitment going forward in front of the congregation.

There were concerns expressed that it was going to be hard to get these young people and their parents to commit to the level of commitment needed for this process. The commitment starts with the confirmation process.

The problem may be more about distraction than commitment.

There is so many things going on and we (especially young people) are bombarded with opportunities and information. The problem with commitment may be more of a tortoise and hare situation.

In this fable the fast and confident rabbit is challenged to a race by the slow and focused turtle. Spoiler alert, the slow turtle beats the fast rabbit.

This happens because after the rabbit gets a big lead, he loses his focus and decides to take a nap. Was the rabbit’s level of commitment less or was he just distracted?

What is commitment anyway?

Commitment is promising, pledging, being obligated or dedicated to doing what you said you would. These are some pretty serious words. A promise is not something I take lightly.

Commitment is the same thing as a promise. Ouch!

The topic of commitment came up again in a discussion about accountability in this week’s mastermind.

As a part of the weekly mastermind, we each commit to a goal we will accomplish prior to the next meeting. This past week there were several of us who had not accomplished our goals.

This then became a discussion of why the commitments we make to others seem to have a higher priority than one we make to ourselves. I think this comes from having a servant’s heart and less about the importance of the specific commitment.

If the goals that we set for ourselves are in alignment with the goals that God has given us, then they are important. We need to take an inventory the things we’re trying to do and get them in order based on whose priorities they are.

I do think the level of commitment is reduced due in part to distractions, over committing and receiving participation trophies for just showing up.

I need to stop kicking the accountability can down the road and commit to be more committed.

I need to make sure that my priorities are in alignment with God’s. If I’m focusing on those things, it will help me be committed to accomplish them. Commitment is as much about clarity of purpose as anything.

Making a commitment is a promise to God.

Great Things Never Get Done by Under Promising





On the other hand, Amazing Things Can Be Accomplished by Over Promising


This is not to say that we should make promises and not keep them. Keeping a promise is important and speaks to who we are as individuals. We’ve become lazy in our use of words and the English language in general. We throw words and clichés around without considering what we’re saying.

“Under promise, and over deliver” is one of those truisms that at face value sounds like a good way to treat customers. It looks great on a business card.

What are we really saying if our goal is to “under promise”?

Last week I wrote about the issue of businesses over promising. As I was researching, I found an online article, by Josh Linkner “Why Under-promising and Over-delivering Is bad Advice”. In this article Mr. Linkner speaks to the lowering of the performance bar when we under promise.

He says, …this false wisdom encourages mediocrity. It grants permission to make small, flaccid commitments and then gleefully celebrate delivering them. The very nature of the argument suggests holding back on achievements that can actually be attained. Simply put…

Under-promising is a promise to play small.”

Most businesses don’t want to play small. There are so many great things that we want to accomplish and so little time to do it. This is why we over promise.

It’s been said, if you want to get something done you should ask a busy person to do it. On the surface this appears counterintuitive. It would seem the person with spare time would be more likely to do something than the busy person. In reality it isn’t in the time available, rather it’s in the person’s level of drive. Busy people are doers.

The more we want to do the more we get done.

I’ve come to realize that the tighter my schedule is packed, the more I get done. It’s frustrating to have things left on my list at the end of the day, however when I step back and look at the bigger picture, I can see the benefits of “over promising”.

What we need to do is to rethink the terminology. To come up with different words that better serve our purpose. To be our most productive selves we need to push ourselves beyond our existing boundaries without lying to others or ourselves.

We need to keep our promises.

This is where things get difficult. How can we grow and do more, if we don’t push against the walls and move them out?


“I don’t think we have any choice. I think we have an obligation to change the rules, to raise the bar, to play a different game, and to play it better than anyone has any right to believe is possible.”

Seth Godin


Be careful to be true and honest, keep your promises to yourself and others as you continue to raise the bar of expectation.

One of the Biggest Issues in Business Is Over Promising





Why in the World Do We Do This and What Are We Going to Do About It?



I received a phone call from a gentleman asking about a problem he was having with a leaking metal roof on his shop building. As normal when confronted by a situation like this I began asking questions.


Early in the conversation I found out some important pieces of information. First, he thought he had called his contractor neighbor. Second, they live almost a hundred miles away. I pointed out the distance and unlikeliness of my coming that far to do a project.


This didn’t stop him from needing answers to questions.



As the conversation continued, he shared about his problem and I (being the solution seeking contractor that I am) continued to discuss his situation with him. Then I found myself looking for ideas to solve his problems, all the time thinking to myself, why are you doing this when you know he’s so far away and you’re already doing too much.

Near the end of the discussion, I agreed that if he would send me some pictures and a written description of what the problems were, I would give him an estimate…strictly from a consulting perspective of course.


You know you have too much to do. Why did you do that?


As we ended the conversation, I told him that I was busy and would get him something as quick as I could. He proceeded to tell me a story about several experiences he had with people in the construction industry that had made promises and then not kept them. He asked why this happens? I’ve asked myself this question many times.

The question of over promising is rampant. I know that in my business it raises its ugly head daily, whether it’s sub-contractors, suppliers, IT people, mechanics or my own schedule. I certainly believe that most of the situations of over promising that I experience are not done from a place of malice. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still being done.

Why does over promising continue and what am I going to do about it?


Maybe this isn’t the right question. Andy Andrews says that “The quality of your answers is determined by the quality of your questions.” I’m thinking that maybe my question isn’t very good.



This is a big issue, as you can see from these previous posts.

Over Promising Is Easy When You Have A Servant’s Heart
5 Ways to Stop Over Promising and Under Delivering
How to Create Realistic Expectations for Customers – Part 1
Honesty Is the Best Policy – I Don’t Care How Hard It Is



I’m not going to stop looking for an answer to this question.



Over Promising Is Easy When You Have A Servant’s Heart


But It’s Not A Good Business Plan


At the risk of sounding like (or writing like) a broken record I want to discuss the big issue of promising to do more than we can. I have written about this on several occasions focusing on different aspects of this struggle.

Five Ways to Stop Over Promising and Under Delivering

How to Create Realistic Expectations for Customers – Part 1

Honesty Is the Best Policy – I Don’t Care How Hard It Is 

I may be overly optimistic, but in my experiences most of the professionals that I work with and/or associate with are driven by a selfless desire to help others. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t selfish people out there, but I believe they are the minority.


The problem arises when overly zealous unachievable statements are made and then not followed through.

Much of the time the over promising is encouraged by the person receiving the promise. I know when given an answer that wasn’t what they wanted; customers have pushed me into saying things that I knew weren’t possible. I let them do this because I wanted to help them realize their dream.
I have done the same thing to my suppliers and subcontractors. When trying to achieve a schedule, I urged them to give me answers that both them and I knew they couldn’t meet. This isn’t right or fair to anyone involved.

I have been dealing with this ‘over promising’ issue a lot lately. It was echoed this past week when I listened to a Michael Hyatt podcast about “How to Delegate Even If You Don’t Have a Team”. It encouraged me to not give up on shoveling this particular mountain.

How do we solve this problem?

First thing is to figure out what works best for you. This may be the hardest part…I know it is for me. Not every idea or plan is going to fit your needs. We are all different and this means our systems will be too. I’ve tried different things and give up when they don’t work immediately. The most important thing is to persist.

Prioritize your to do list – This is probably the hardest thing for someone with a servant’s heart. Everything on the list is given ultimate importance and this is where the problem starts. There simply isn’t enough time to do everything. So how do we prioritize the list. Michael refers to the Eisenhower Matrix in the podcast. Like any system, it’s a good way to organize tasks, but only if you use it.

Delegate – Sharing the shovels needed to move any mountain is a good plan as long as you have someone to share them with. Delegating is a part of the productivity plan in the Eisenhower Matrix. There are a lot of unconventional ways that delegating can be done. Thinking outside the box is a great plan, you just can’t stop at the thinking, there has to be some doing. Michael shares ideas for this in his podcast as well.

Say NO – This is probably the hardest thing to do with a servant’s heart. We want to help everybody. The problem is there simply isn’t enough time to help everybody. Saying no is the only way we can do our best work, it’s the only way to serve well. The Lysa TerKeurst book, “The Best Yes”, is a great resource for helping to prioritize which things we say yes to and why. Most servants don’t want to tell others no but wouldn’t that be better than to give them an over promised yes.


When we attempt to help everybody, we really don’t do a good job of helping anybody.


We can have the best intentions when we say yes, but “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Unaccomplished good intentions are not the best way for us to truly serve others well.

5 Ways to Stop Over Promising and Under Delivering


Asking Questions and Finding Answers to Help You Schedule Better


Things taking longer than we expect them to. This is a topic of way too many conversations. Just in the last few days I’ve had this very discussion, in some form or another, with customers, subcontractors and family members. Not to mention it’s an ongoing dialog I have with myself.

Why is this such a common problem? Is there something wrong with my scheduling system or abilities? Is there a better way to manage my time? Am I trying to do too much? Is it just the way things are? I know this is a lot of questions, but asking questions is the only way to find answers.

I think one reason we don’t ask questions, is the amount of time it takes to find answers. If it isn’t a simple answer that jumps out in front of you, it’s easier to just let things keep going the way they are. I’m behind, I don’t have time to look for answers to questions.

Here are 5 answers that you won’t have to look for:


  • Find the balance of accuracy and urgency

This is a big struggle that I have when scheduling. I know that I’m deadline oriented. If I allow two hours to do something it will most likely take twice that long. If I allow four hours, it reduces the level of urgency and I will procrastinate. Something else will take its place. I’ve figured out that If I schedule myself short on time, I focus better, and the increased urgency will get it done faster. Figuring out your balance of accuracy and urgency can be tricky but is critical.


  • Give as much importance to my schedule with myself as to others

When I put things on the calendar that are for myself, I tend to be more lenient. This is different than when I have a meeting scheduled with someone else. If I am going to honor God and others, I need to also honor myself. This is hard for me but is one of those areas where I need to be more accountable. If I hope to spend my time efficiently, I need to be realistic when scheduling with myself and honor it.



  • Stop trying to do too many things

But there are so many important things that need to be done. If I don’t do them, they won’t get done or they won’t be done right. This tendency of trying to do too many things has always been a characteristic that I have been proud of. This is what movers and shakers do, right. Being a micro-manager doesn’t help either. There are just too many pieces to put together by myself. I need some clarity of focus on what my time is best spent on and stop trying to do everything if I want to be the best steward of my time.


  • Take in to account the number of things out of my control

The bigger the project being scheduled, the more things there are to schedule. One small delay can have a snowball effect by pushing more and more things farther and farther back. There needs to be some margin scheduled in to cover these delays. The difficult part is to not let the margins become areas of wasted time. It is critical to communicate clearly to those involved the importance of being on schedule. I use two different schedules with projects. One with the customer and one with the producers.


  • Plan for unforeseen things that interrupt the plan – 

There are always things that can’t be planned for. It doesn’t matter how well you plan if something breaks down or there’s an accident. The priority and focus can change quickly. This is a thing that is also out of my control. The difference in the two is the frequency and the level of disruption. We can only plan for these things to a certain point. It is more about the awareness that it can happen and being ready to deal with it the best we can when it does.

The key to unlocking the door to better scheduling and planning is self-awareness. It’s about knowing who you are and asking questions. I know that I’m a recovering perfectionist and my level of expectation is high. I know that this makes things take longer. I also know that if I want to build the best business and the best me, I must be willing to ask questions, find answers and put those answers to use. It all comes down to me and my willingness to make the necessary decisions.

What are some answers to scheduling questions that you’ve found?