Make a Hard Promise and Keep It
I caught the tail end of an interview on late night TV last week. On November 19, 2007, Charlie Rose interviewed Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. This means I am almost three years late. Oh well! I have to make a disclaimer that I am not familiar with either of these men or their worldview. I was up late and flipped on Channel 9 and there they were - two men talking intelligently, so I lingered and listened. True confession: my husband is on a backpacking trip with our teen boys and the house is way to quiet. It doesn't take much to entertain at one in the morning!
As I listened to Jeff Bezos speak about his Kindle, (Amazon's electronic book reader) and his business philosophies in general, I found myself wanting to jot down a few of his comments. They were good. I suspect they are in part what has moved his company from good to great. The one quote that struck me most was made about how Amazon has built customer loyalty. Jeff Bezos stated, "Trust is built when you make a hard promise and keep it."
Years ago, when we were struggling daily with rebuilding broken relationships with Rich's boys from his first marriage, someone advised Rich to examine what promises he had made to the boys and if he had kept them. This exercise provided insight to areas we had failed and needed to improve. We had to face reality that our broken promises had damaged the relationships within our family. Rebuilding those relationships didn't happen overnight, but took years. Today, I am hopeful when one of the boys instigates calling his Dad for help on a house project or with a car acting funny. They have learned to trust again that Dad will be there for them. I have a small card in my jewelry drawer that accompanied some flowers Rich sent to me during a difficult time in our family life. It states, "I promise to take care of you." That wasn't an easy promise at the time. We were facing some huge consequences from a real estate decision we had made, one that end up costing us $50,000 more than we originally expected. I knew the promise he wrote on that card was going to cost him many extra hours of work, for decades perhaps. Keeping promises takes effort. Keeping promises isn't easy. But I do believe Jeff Bezos is right, trust is built when we make hard promises and keep them.
How are you doing in the area of making promises and keeping them? Just today as I sat down to type, I realized I had told our youngest I would play a game with him. Honestly, I didn't want to stop writing to make good on my promise. Even these little things speak trust or lack of it to those who live closest to us. Whether your hard thing today is setting aside your agenda to give your child your attention, or plugging away decades later to make good on a promise, I encourage you to keep your vows. Your efforts at keeping your promises will be bridges to trusting relationships.