I was away recently travelling for almost three weeks and must confess that being out of the country for such an extended period created a couple of concerns for me:
First and foremost, it’s a long time for me to be away from my son Tristan – especially when getting home from a shack in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest (not to mention being surrounded by huge spiders and the occasional snake ) at a moments notice isn’t the easiest thing to do…
And secondly, I wanted to make absolutely sure that I’d done everything possible to prepare for a couple of gatherings that I’d be a part of; one that happened while I was away, and one that happened shortly after I returned.
This was important to me, since the last thing I’d want while sitting in the middle of the jungle suddenly would be to realize that I didn’t book the A.V. equipment, proper directions weren’t sent out, or that my commitment to all those people who themselves had committed their time to attend these meetings wasn’t going to be honored… in my books this would be a total disaster!
As far as the first concern goes, there really isn’t much that can be done since it really just comes down to either I go away or I don’t… There is no grey areas here, so it’s pretty much case closed.
I always choose the former and (barring any unforeseen circumstances) it always plays out the same. I go away, I get home, I spend time with T and we catch up on what we’ve missed in each other’s lives and it’s all good for us both.
Tristan and I are both fine with this arrangement thank you very much; so in the end it’s probably not so much a concern as it is that at times that we test out the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” theory.
However, it’s the second item of concern that has had me a wee bit perplexed. What I’ve found especially
frustrating interesting on this last return home were two separate exchanges I’ve had with people, each one pertaining to the two meetings I’d worked especially hard to organize prior to my travel.
The first exchange was about the AGM for the condo building that I live in, and am a member of the strata council. Because I’m visibly active around the building, many people see me as sort of figurehead for the council, which I’m not; I’m just committed to living in a nice tidy building and therefore take a few extra steps to ensure this is the case.
However, upon my return a lady whom I barely know from the building saw me on the street, and felt the need to approach and apologize to me for her absence at the meeting. She explained something about a sick friend, etc. and was about to get into some long, drawn out story when I told her that I wasn’t there either, adding that I hope her friend feels better soon or something like that.
At first she appeared shocked at the news that I hadn’t attended this all-important meeting myself; and then, satisfied that she’d relieved her conscience of the enormous emotional burden she’d been lugging around for a couple of weeks, she tottered off into the dark recesses of the building.
Her odd confession left me to wonder (a) what just happened, and (b) why did she think that I even care if she attends the meeting or not? I mean seriously, she owns her condo, just as I own mine – why do I care if she isn’t interested enough to attend this – or any other – meeting about it?
All I can think is that her making an excuse to me helped ease her mind after her complete lack of follow through on her commitment to attend the AGM.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT AGM’S
The next day a similar thing happened, when someone who had RSVPed to a presentation I’d arranged contacted me by email at the very last-minute to say they couldn’t make it, citing something about their sister suddenly coming to town unannounced.
I wondered to myself “Since its last minute, why not just bring her along?” Either way, both this person and their sister were a no-show.
But here’s the thing: I’m not sure if it was due to the spectacular weather we had that evening, or if in fact many sisters suddenly came to town that night, but several other people who’d committed (in writing no less) to attend the same gathering did not show up. And yes, this was despite them RSVPing just 24 hours earlier saying they’d be there… What gives?
Similar to the lady from my building, I suspect that the people who didn’t show up said they’d attend, maybe even meant to attend, but in their hearts and minds didn’t fully commit to actually attending; and then something shiny came along and caught their eye, and their commitment flew after it, right out the window.
The rotten part is that a large amount of work, effort and cost was put in by other people, all to ensure that the event would be a success – you know – for the benefit of those who said they wanted to be there; some of whom didn’t even have the courtesy to show up.
This made me realize that there are people who don’t really value the time and effort put in to create events – be they annual AGM’s for their condominium, a social gathering to meet new friends or even a sponsored charity walk – made on thier behalf.
They figure that – despite thier promises to attend – not attending is a viable option, probably reasoning something like “Since there will be a lot of people there to show support already they probably won’t even miss me”.
Except there usually isn’t a lot of other people; mostly because of others who also lack the respect, integrity and commitment to keeping their word about such things. Whenever this happens, it leaves those who helped organize, promote and commit such events left holding the bag.
So what to do about this lack of commitment? What can be done about those times when certain folks put forth the effort to create events or important meetings when those they are doing it for simply don’t care?
How do we proceed and get these people to honour their word, and actually show up to the events they said they would attend? The answer is…
Nothing. Nada. Zilch, zero, not a sausage.
The bottom line is that it’s human nature to do whatever it is as individuals we choose to do, good or not-so-good, and nobody – not you, not me, not anybody – can change that.
I’ve come to understand that as leaders, we can promise people the world or have solutions to their biggest problems or even offer them the very best thing they could ever want – however when crunch time arrives, many of them still don’t bother showing up… Crazy right?
THE WISDOM GLEANED FROM THIS SITUATION
But here’s the thing… Harv T. Eker says “The way we do anything is the way we do everything”, and my gut tells me that this lack of integrity, commitment and respect shown by these folks also shows up in other places in their lives. And I’m not just talking about condo meetings and pre-planned social events, oh no.
More importantly I’m confident that those who do actually honour their commitments (I love you guys!) by “showing up” notice those who don’t show up, and if they are like me might even have their faith and confidence eroded by these no-show people… I’m just sayin’!
It’s a fact: Not following through on our commitments drains our credibility with other people; it sends a message that those individuals are not trustworthy or reliable, and can’t be counted on. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for those of us who plan on living around other human beings, this isn’t exactly the best reputation to have.
For me, the bottom line is this: If I say I will be somewhere, do something or make a commitment of any kind, I fully intend to keep it. Not doing so is simply not an option.
And if by chance circumstances change, letting people know with as much advanced notice as possible (which several people also did, thank you very much for your consideration) is always the right thing to do. Taking this route will always keep our integrity and reputation intact.
So next time you’ve made plans to meet with a group of people, or help out a friend with an errand, etc. and your sister suddenly shows up on your doorstep, my suggestion is that you either (a) invite her along (Who knows, maybe she’ll have fun!) or (b) tell her to watch Downton Abbey on Netflix until you get back.
What you shouldn’t do is allow her lack or planning be the reason for you to drop your commitments to other people, and damage your credibility. Trust me, doing so is a huge price to pay.
As for me? I’m going climb down from my soapbox now, and go hang out with Tristan… Because I told him I would, and I always keep my word.