There was a great article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer a few weeks ago about Kyrie Irving titled, For Kyrie and Dred Irving, a Long, Winding Road Took Them to a Magical Draft Night (and the Cleveland Cavaliers). Kyrie was the first pick in this year’s NBA draft, and in this article he shares how he wrote on the wall of his closet that he was going to make it to the NBA. In addition, he wrote ‘promise’ and underlined it three times. He was nine years old at that time.
This was a young man who made a promise to himself to achieve something he found significant. He didn’t just write it on the wall. He lived that promise and made decisions to move himself closer to the realization of it. When he was in high school, he transferred himself from a prep school to “national powerhouse St. Patrick in Elizabeth, NJ.” St. Patrick is located in an urban setting far from the suburbs of Montclair New Jersey where the prep school was. He made this decision because “he knew he needed to challenge himself more athletically.”
The story reminded me of a client I have who likes to make the “Diane promise.” He makes a promise to me because it holds greater value to him and we both know he’ll get it done. He doesn’t make these promises often or lightly. He, like Kyrie, makes the promise when it is about something significant to him. And he makes sure he puts the pieces in place to keep that promise.
So, what’s the point?
As small business owners, we need to make promises to ourselves regarding the priorities we set. We need to raise those priorities to the level of promises. And then, we have to set out to accomplish them. Just like Kyrie, we should write it down with the word ‘promise’ underlined three times. If it helps to make the promise to someone else, do it!
It’s too easy to put something aside to deal with the immediate issues of the day. It’s too easy to re-prioritize to smaller, seemingly important in-the-moment things that confront us. But a promise? Well, a promise speaks to who we are in our core. A priority framed as a promise is elevated on our commitment spectrum—we feel a stronger sense of obligation to keep a promise.
I’ve found that when we create a system we can use over and over again we can assure ourselves that we will keep our focus on the promise items first. The system I’ve created goes like this:
Make lists of things you need to accomplish. I say lists because I find it helpful to separate business from personal-standard from personal-projects that have end dates.
Once the lists are made, go back through them and prioritize the most important items. Then, when you take a look at the priorities, ask yourself what you need in the way of time to accomplish them. You’ll probably find that there are items ready to be completed. The only thing standing in the way is actually putting them on a calendar. I call this ‘calendarizing’ your priorities. This is where the promise comes in. When you find one of those items just waiting to be completed, put it on the calendar and promise yourself you are going to get it done.
See what I did?
I moved one thing out of the list, out of the priorities and made it a promise. I put that promise on the calendar and treated it just like an appointment. As you proceed to get these things done, and keep these promises, you’ll find it easier to identify what really needs to get done; what is just being moved down the road for no real reason.
Give it a try!
Make a promise to accomplish something in your business; something that really matters but you’ve been putting off. You’ll be thrilled with the results.