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Develop Your Skill of Being Reliable

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There have been times in my life where I missed an event or activity that I had planned to attend. I made a commitment and I failed to follow through. Sometimes, these memories haunt me.

I will never forget the first time. I was 16 years old, and working in the stock room of a drug store. I was scheduled to work, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to go out with my friends. At sixteen, fun seemed more important than work. So, that’s what I did.

Drugstore Shelves

© Flickr user Yuya Tamai

The next day when I went back to my job, my manager was not happy. He said, “If you decide to do that again, don’t plan on coming back to work. You will be fired.”

It was a lesson with a huge impact on me. It taught me about commitment. As an adult, there are very few times I commit to something and fail to follow through. However, there are still times I commit, follow through, but lack enthusiasm. It’s good to keep your word, but if you don’t care about what you’re doing, that’s worth noting as well.

Reflecting on this experience has helped me identify three things that keep me focused on dependability:

1. Understand why I decided to commit. What was my motive? Keeping the why clear in my mind helps me from wavering on a commitment. It also helps me say “no” to things that are not important.

Self-reflection is easy to talk about, but not always easy to do. Sometimes we say “yes” for reasons that might be obvious. Maybe we don’t want to do the work, but we don’t want to disappoint the person. Other times, we think that saying “yes” might help us get something else later. Analyzing our own motivation is always worthwhile.

2. Be accountable to someone. If I know someone will hold me accountable, then I will work harder to follow through. I value other people, and I don’t want to let them down. Accomplishing something for someone else is much more rewarding emotionally.

This works in reverse too. When you’re holding other people accountable, notice how committed they are. Be the kind of person that others don’t want to disappoint.

3. Determine how I may grow. If I know the benefit to myself, I will be more determined about success. Every experience usually provides learning and growing if we look for it.

It’s all too easy to walk away from an experience where we were not dependable without gaining any knowledge. But there is a lesson in everything.

If you sometimes struggle completing a commitment, maybe these three ideas can help.


© Flickr user Daniel Lin

For many people, the struggle with keeping commitments is related to perfectionism and goal setting. We want to do so much, but we can’t do everything. Saying “yes” to just the right number of things that we want to do and need to do is the secret. What we typically do is over-commit, and that makes it impossible to give any one thing the attention it deserves.

Here are some quotes that I find inspiring that may help you in your journey to be better at making and keeping commitments. Take a look:

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador DalĂ­

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” – George Orwell

“There is no perfection only life” – Milan Kundera

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” -Vince Lombardi

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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