Promises. Does the very word make you uncomfortable? Does it conjure up images of promises forgotten, broken or never fulfilled? If promises don't make us uncomfortable, then we haven't been trying hard enough or we haven't been taking our promises seriously. To some extent, promises are uncomfortable because you have to keep them.
When working on projects, create a routine that is appropriate for the project and that requires the team to come together and to undertake promises to one another. The work that I promise to complete today allows you to start your task tomorrow.
The downfall of not fulfilling my obligation is one breakdown after another. In fact, our reputations are built on our ability, or lack thereof, to make commitments and fulfill them, as is the future of our business. There are people who are great at making commitments but not great at fulfilling them. When that happens, not much gets done, and they aren't chosen to participate on a project team again. Others don't make commitments, fearing the accountability, preferring to hide under a cloak of diminished expectations. How often have we heard (or said) the words "I can't promise you that I'll do it, but I'll try"? Why would we want to live in the half-light of such a soft engagement with others and the world? Without commitments, not much gets done, and the noncommittal person doesn't get picked again.
The good news is that projects are a perfect venue to develop and improve habits of making and fulfilling commitments. I should note that commitments can, and sometimes should, be renegotiated. That's perfectly natural. Things change. But if renegotiating promises becomes the norm, then not much gets done, at least not in a timely fashion. And, you guessed it, you don't get asked to participate again.
When working with others, nothing is more effective than a 10- to 15-minute daily coordination and commitment management conversation. Each team member assesses how they are doing fulfilling promises. They report "complete" when done or make revised promises when needed. They also make new promises at the appropriate time. They finish the meeting by asking for help or offering help to others. A four- to seven-person team can have this conversation in less than 15 minutes--and should.
To promise and fulfill is to be the doer of deeds, not the critic. It is to be fully in the world, not standing apart or hovering above. We are in the ring, on the stage, open to being judged, but not judging.