Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Keeping your word

Keeping your word is the primary key to trust.

It starts with keeping your word to yourself.

When you keep your word to yourself, you'll find you keep it to others.

When I meet people who don't keep their word to me .. they don't do what they say they will .. I know they are betraying themselves as well as me.

Lots of folks who come to me for coaching suffer from this word-breaking condition (I have no idea why) and want to change their behavior. So I came up with a *very* simple, amazing exercise that results in people not only keeping their word but feeling much better about themselves.

My coachees do it just because I suggest it, suspecting it's just too simple, too easy to *really* work! But they return overwhelmed and honestly shocked at how powerful and effective it is.

Here it is:

On graph paper, leave the left column free to list items.

To the right of the wide column, across the top, map numbers from 1 to 31 - each representing a day of the month.

Make copies of this template if you want to work with hard copies.

In the open column at the left - list 5 things you can't help but do every single day.

1. wake up
2. pee
3. poo
4. drink water/coffee/tea
5. check email

Give your word you will do these things (that you automatically do anyway!).

Giving your word - out loud is better than just thinking it - is recognizing the process of making a promise to yourself.

Now when you keep your word, the complete word-keeping process is brought front and center into your consciousness.

Usually when we say we'll do something and don't follow through, we don't even recognize that we're breaking our word; that we're not telling the truth, betraying or hurting ourselves as well as someone else.

Having this new awareness is crucial.

So, every day, after doing each of these five things? Check them off.

After you wake up? Check.

Pee? Check.

Poo? Check.

And so on.

Do this for two weeks - you'll be amazed at how great you feel and how much more you naturally do that you've been putting off (things you've told yourself you'll do, then procrastinate which is usually not keeping your word to yourself).

After the first two weeks, you can add one item every two weeks that you really want to do, and already do to a certain extent, but don't do automatically.

For example, you might add, "6. drink 8 glasses of water." Something you're already doing to some extent - you only want to increase the amount.

The most important thing is that you ONLY add one single item every two weeks, and ONLY add those things you know you can do - for which you can keep your word.

If you find yourself starting to break your word on any of the listed items? Start all over again with the basic five items.

Otherwise you'll slip into old bad habits of breaking your word to yourself and others and now beat yourself up over it because you'll have more awareness about your behavior.

This process has to be gentle and done in a way that leads you to keep your word every time you give it.

As you improve over time, you can add more challenging items - things you want or need to do that you don't automatically.

The best way to avoid breaking your word is simply not to give it. If you can't follow through, don't say you can.

After you have the awareness of knowing each time you give your word, you'll be able to stop yourself before you automatically say you'll do something you won't or can't.

Instead of making a useless promise, you can say, "Let me think about it." Or, "Let me get back to you." Or, "I'm not sure I can do that." Or, can you believe it? "NO." Or "I'm sorry, I can't."

Seriously, my CP Word-keeping Systemâ„¢ works!


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