Do or do not. There is no try.
Don’tcha just love Yoda? I know that particular quote smacks of an inspirational, running shoe affirmation, but that’s not where I’m going with it. Do or do not. Pretty simple stuff, but one of the most common (and sometimes costliest) performance mistakes people make. Which leads me to today’s hack:
Do what you say you will do.
This one’s the mother of all lessons that sound easy but are hard to live by. I cannot emphasize enough how important this hack is, and how often you will see people fail at it. First of all, doing what you say you will do builds solid trust very quickly. Why? Because people today are conditioned for others to oversell us, disappoint, break promises, etc. So when they experience the opposite (from you!) the faith in your abilities, trust in your character, and growth in your responsibilities will quickly follow.
If this so hard for other people to consistently do, how can you?
1. Embrace the fact that “I don’t know” is sometimes the best answer. In our on-going desire to create good impressions and establish ourselves at work, we sometimes make the mistake of trying to be that person who has all the answers. NOTE: Nobody has all the answers and a good boss knows that. Someone who has the guts to say they DON’T have all the answers can often wear “the smartest person in the room” crown (for that moment anyway).
2. Getting comfortable with “I don’t know” is the light saber that will save you from making promises you can’t keep (the most common type of trust breaker there is). Can you make the deadline? Can you land the client? Can you volunteer for the project? You will be faced with countless requests that you are unsure you can fulfill. Responding with an “I don’t know, but I’ll let you know” is a FAR better response than the easy, “Yes.” If the request is a stretch, or even a crystal ball request (i.e. landing the client) THIS is the moment you summon all your Jedi courage and say YOU DON’T KNOW. Of course, you say it with as much professional cooperation and assurance as the situation allows. But make sure you’re clear that by the end of the conversation, you haven’t made a promise that’s outside of your control to keep.
3. When you commit to something, DO IT. Period. I don’t care how many late hours, called-in favors, and miracle-working resourcefulness it takes; once you’ve said you’ll do it, find a way. It’s that simple. And if for some unforeseen reason you can’t (I’m talking the Whiplash car accident scene on the way to the Jazz concert type of reason) THEN you can apologize, hat in hand, beg for forgiveness, explain why it happened, and how it will NEVER happen again. That’s how seriously you take it when you say you will do something and you don’t.
Once this becomes a hallmark of your style, you’ll start to notice how often other people don’t do it. You’ll also notice how you’re becoming that “go to” person on a number of levels, because you’re the one who can be counted on to do what you said you would do. It’s a great feeling; you’ll sleep better at night. And Yoda, so proud you will make him.
Hope this helped, now go get shit done.