How to Become a Dependable Man of Your Word
One of the things that we all strive to be is dependable as men. We want to be strong providers and trusted unconditionally. We want to be honorable men, even if many of us aren’t exactly sure what that means.
We like, and often romanticize the Gentleman’s Agreement. When we are told something is going to happen, we want to believe it. We like the idea that “he’s a man of his word,” and “he’s a good man, he’ll come through.”
You want to be “a man of your word,” but how do you get there? What makes one a man of his word and how do you become a dependable man of your word? In this episode of the podcast, we’re exploring commitments, choices, and an amazing concept of being and doing “because I said I would.”
Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below. [Subscribe Here]
When I was in coaching school, one of my favorite courses was called Balance. It taught us how to facilitate alternate perspectives for our clients. We learned how to challenge from places of power when clients were empowered by their chosen perspective – yes I know this sounds a little strange, but trust me, it’s a very cool technique to build strength when you feel weak.
What made this so powerful for me, personally, was the commitment aspect at the end. Once you’ve consciously chosen your perspective, resources, and approaches, you then commit to making it (whatever goal you’ve set out in front of you) happen.
I took everything I learned, the tools and resources I acquired, and the desire to expand into something better, and I committed to it. Then I stepped over a line and focused on the follow through. My only job going forward from that moment was to be more authentic and honest with my goals, journey, and struggles.
That’s why I’m bringing this up. Commitment and follow through are the two magic ingredients to becoming a man of your word. Once you say you’re going to do something, all it takes is commitment to that cause and steps (follow through) toward bringing it to fruition.
Where are you committed in your life?
Where are you falling short?
These are the two questions necessary for understanding where you value commitment and where you don’t. For many men, commitment to family is top priority, and they do what they say they’re going to do. Most men also commit to better fitness (year after year after year), but find it too easy to have cheat meals, cheat days, and eventually, cheat years. Diet is not usually a place where “we’re men of our words.”
Your first assignment – wait, maybe I should have told you earlier that this episode includes homework… well, now you know. So your first assignment is to examine the two questions above and get clear on what things you can easily commit yourself to, and which you find have you quitting early or walking away from.
Your follow-up assignment is to decide what you want to easily commit to if it isn’t listed above. In the example I gave earlier, being a family man that doesn’t commit to his diet isn’t a bad thing, but let’s say you want to change it. If you decide you want to be a “man of your word” when it comes to your nutrition, write that down.
It’s all a matter of Honor
Whatever you honor, you commit to. That’s all there is to it. The previous few questions helped you explore where you easily honor your commitments and where you kinda don’t care. That’s the trick to being a man of your word: it’s all about honoring commitments. Here’s the definition of gentlemen’s agreement:
Gentlemen, the most important section is at the end of this definition: “The essence of a gentlemen’s agreement is that it relies upon the honor of the parties for its fulfillment.”
Essentially, you will do what you say.
So, how do you become a man of your word? It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it’s not an overnight activity. You have to create a track record of honoring your commitments and crushing the follow through. Here are 7 ways to become a man of your word.
- Make less promises
- Don’t agree to things you simply don’t want to do – man up and say no!
- Quit making excuses
- Stop being vague in your communication (do or do not, there is no try.)
- Complete commitments quickly
- Follow through, because you said you would
- Volunteer your time/resources because you said you would
Make Fewer Promises
One of the things that messes up track records (and makes for good movies) is promises that are broken. Whether it’s Christmas morning and you didn’t get little Timmy that BB gun he wanted (and you promised), or a regular Tuesday night promise to your wife that you’ll remember to take the trash out (and you forgot), the consequences are the same: you did not honor your commitment.
Take a second look at the two questions you were assigned at the beginning of this episode: what do you honor and what do you not? Get clear on what you really shouldn’t be promising anymore. If you don’t honor it and don’t really care, stop promising it.
When you make fewer promises, you leave the promises you do make to be that much more powerful. Things that are rare are valuable, right? Well, use that principle to make your promises a rare thing.
This doesn’t mean you reduce what you commit to; rather, you simply reduce what you promise to be or do publicly. If you promise 10 things and only do 6, that’s a D-student. You don’t want that on your permanent record.
Don’t Agree to Things You Don’t Want to Do
Seriously, this shouldn’t have to be said, but stop saying yes to people, jobs, experiences, and plans you don’t want. Look, let’s have a moment of honesty here…
Men are more often than not inclined to be the hero. We want to be more and do more than we should so we can provide more and save more people. We want to be the knight in shining armor, and frankly, it’s a trap. If you haven’t listened to my previous episode, Why Being a Hero Makes You an Idiot, I implore you to do it.
Knock it off. Save yourself, Tommy. Don’t be a hero. When you agree to do things you don’t want to do, you stack the deck against yourself. Stop doing that. The less you do, the less you have to do. See what I did there?
Alright, strap in kids, we’re about to dig into some tough love…
Stop Making Excuses
Honesty and integrity are of paramount importance as a gentleman. You know this. And yet, you still make excuses for things you didn’t do. We all do. Unfortunately, that has to stop. Now.
Taking personal responsibility for your words, actions, and shortcomings is the name of the game when it comes to being a man of your word. When you make excuses, you tell others that you’re unwilling to own up to things and you aren’t as reliable as they may have thought.
Stop making excuses and start taking action.
Quit Being Vague in Your Communication
I very rarely do this, but I feel it is called for in this instance:
A few nights ago, my wife and I were heading out to dinner and drinks with a few friends. We had a couple extra seats and invited another couple to come out and join us. They didn’t show. They never do. We invite them out as often as we can, but we rarely expect their attendance.
When we send them the invite, we receive responses like, “sure, we’ll try to be there,” and “sound fun, we’ll see what we can do.” You’ve heard these excuses before, haven’t you? You’ve probably also given them out as well. This is code for, “I don’t really want to, but I have to say something, so I’ll give the ‘maybe’ response.”
Stop it. Right now.
From this point forward, quit using vague language around your commitments and promises. You will either do something or you won’t. Stop being vague so others know what to expect. And when they are clear where you stand, there’s a lot less you have to worry about in meeting expectations and being a man of your word.
Complete Commitments Quickly
One of the best ways to become a man of your word is to do what you said you were going to do, and do it quickly. Rather that say you’re going to do the dishes and then get them done at the very last minute, get them done now.
If you have kids (especially teenagers) you are aware of how frustrating it is to tell them to do something and hear the “I will” response. Will he get off his ass and actually do what you asked? Probably. Will it be anytime soon? Oh my God, no. The work will get done, but it will be pushed off until either the very last minute, or just before he’s grounded for not doing it and getting lippy.
I’m not a parent, but I was a teenager once. I understand the drill. My father was British and I am the oldest, so when I was asked to do something, I was expected to do it that very moment. My little sister didn’t get that memo, so she was my example of “I will” up until the moment before he threatened to ground her forever.
If you really want to cover some ground and become a man of your word more quickly, start completing your promised actions sooner, rather than later. You don’t need to exceed expectations, just meet them soon.
Follow Through Because You Said You Would
A few years ago, I came across a TED talk about making and keeping promises by a guy named Alex Sheen. He started an organization called because I said I would. His organization is designed to better humankind through promises made and kept. If you haven’t seen his TED talk, I highly recommend it.
At any rate, I ordered the promise cards and started challenging my local tribes (networking groups, associations, masterminds) to think of things they want to be, do , or have, and then write it out on the commitment cards.
Keeping the cards in front of you -and sharing your commitment with others- helps to build community around a cause, and keeps you focused on the follow through. Others can ask you about your commitment and keep you on track to get it. Plus, just seeing something you want to do “because you said you would” on your fridge or office wall is a big motivator to stay sharp and keep pushing.
Get your because I said I would cards right here.
Volunteer Time & Resources
I kept this as the last key in how to become a man of your word because it’s powerful, but it’s also optional. Doing the previous six keys will definitely help you become a better man and a man of your word, but adding this last key will also increase your influence along the way.
Doing what you said you would is a big deal, but doing something that doesn’t help you in any way, but doing it because it’s the right thing to do and you said you would, is an even bigger and better deal.
Have you ever met someone that you knew in a minute would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it? This person was just that way – you knew you could trust him to be there because he follows through on his commitments, and you could sense it immediately.
One way to increase your influence is to create an impact in your community. Volunteer your time or your resources for the betterment of your community, or the world at large. People stand up and take notice when another steps up and provides selflessly, especially because he said he would.
Don’t just pay your taxes because you said you would. Pay for 100 hot lunches for underprivileged kids in your community because you said you would. That is how you not only build a better community, but you become a man of your word.
And a gentleman I would be proud to call a friend.
Do you feel like I missed one? What do YOU think makes someone
a man of his word? Are there any areas of your life where you
feel you are definitely a man of your word?
Leave a comment below so we can connect!