(Names and details have been changed, to protect, ummm, someone!)
I have a friend named Gill. Gill and I serve on a committee that meets monthly to take care of very important business. We meet the third Wednesday of every month at 1:00 in the afternoon at a sandwich shop on the town square.
Except that we don't.
When Gill and I first accepted the responsibility of serving on this committee, we sat down together with our planners and we made a plan. We decided to meet each month on the same day, at the same time. We thought that by planning ahead, we would be able to work other things around our meeting time so that we could do our very important business.
Let me tell you how this works for me. On my calendars (the one on the kitchen wall and the one in my purse), I have written "Meeting with Gill, 1:00" on every single third Wednesday from January to December. When I make an appointment for a haircut, I look at the calendar - "Nope, can't make next Wednesday. How about Thursday morning?" When someone asks if I can help pack boxes for the school supply drive, I check the calendar - "Not Wednesday afternoon. Is there another time I can help?" When Sarah calls and invites me on a coffee date, I check the calendar - "Sorry, I already have a commitment on Wednesday."
Get the idea?
But Gill, he works differently. The Tuesday evening before the Wednesday we are supposed to meet, I get a text. "Meeting a buddy for a game of racquetball tomorrow. Need to reschedule." The Wednesday morning before the afternoon that we are supposed to meet, I get a call - "Hey, I forgot about our meeting today. I'm in St. Louis for a ballgame and won't be able to make it."
"I forgot." Turns out I actually could have scheduled that haircut appointment after all.
"I made other plans." And I could have helped at the school supply drive.
"We need to reschedule." And I could have met Sarah for coffee.
When Gill and I finally do get together and have our very important meeting - usually after multiple "reschedules" - I always end our meeting by pulling out my calendar. "Okay, Gill, our next meeting is supposed to be Wednesday, April 16th. Will that work for you? Or, is there a better time for you to meet?"
Gill pulls out his cell phone and checks his electronic calendar. "Wednesday, April 16th, looks great for me - I don't have anything planned," he answers. He taps away on his phone. "I've got it down on my calendar."
Except that he doesn't. And next month, we'll be going through this frustrating rigamarole all over again.
Now, after this rather tedious and lengthy rant, I want to tell you a story.
Long, long ago, when this gray-haired granny was a young college co-ed, she told a boy named Dan, "Sure, I'd love to go to the Conway Twitty concert with you next month."
My girlfriend Tina dated Dan's brother Sam. Tina and Sam were thick as thieves. Dan and I were just friends, not girlfriend/boyfriend, but we often accompanied Sam and Tina on their outings. Sam and Tina were going to the Conway Twitty concert. Dan wanted to go, too, but he didn't want to be a third wheel - so he invited me along.
I did not like Conway Twitty, but I did like Dan - and Tina and Sam - so I said "Yes" to Dan's invitation.
Almost as soon as the tickets were purchased, Sam and Tina broke up. Great. Now I'd be making a road trip to hear a geriatric rockabilly star, with Dan, my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, and his brand new sweetie. Awkward!
The morning of the concert, I called my mom from college. "Mom, I really do not want to go to this concert."
"Of course you're going any way," Mom replied flatly.
"I have a sore throat. I think I'm coming down with something."
"Take some Tylenol."
I groaned into the phone.
"You told Dan you were going to the concert. So, by golly, you are going." Mom was completely unsympathetic. "Camille, when you tell someone that you're going to do something, you do it. You do not back out at the last minute and give lame excuses."
"Mom, this is going to be so AWKWARD!" I complained.
"Have a great time - enjoy the concert!" Click.
Yes, the double date was indeed a little awkward. But it was fun, too - not because of Conway Twitty, but because Dan was such a great guy.
And Mom was right. Bigger things were at stake that Friday than concert tickets and pizza. Things like integrity, reliability, and respect.
Now, back to my monthly meeting with Gill...
Gill, take a lesson from my Mom: if you tell someone you are going to do something, do it. Don't back out at the last minute, giving a bunch of lame excuses.
Trust me, Gill - you'll be glad you honored your word.
3 months ago