This post is a chapter from my upcoming book “Punch Fear in the Face – Then Shake It’s Hand and Have a Beer With It” – Hope you enjoy it!
“The promises we keep and those we choose to dishonor define us and this world.” ~ Alex Sheen
After his dad’s sudden passing, Alex Sheen wanted to eulogize him in a way that truly honored his legacy. Noting that his dad never sought out fame or recognition, Alex said he took the most pride in doing one thing exceptionally well; he’d keep every promise he ever made. Because of this, Alex titled his eulogy “Because I said I would.”
In a world where people often say “I’ll get to it one day” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” Alex noted that his father never did, because he believed in the importance and integrity of promises made. His fierce commitment to keeping his word was an obvious point of pride for Alex, and the memory of his dad he wanted to leave everyone with.
At the funeral Alex handed out blank business cards (called promise cards) asking people to write a promise on them as a symbol of their own commitment to keeping promises.
Little did Alex know that these first fifty cards he gave out would hardly be the last.
With this one simple act meant to honor his father Alex Sheen got an idea; why not create off a movement to help people keep their promises? And so he did.
Alex built a website that offered to send ten such promise cards to anyone anywhere in the world at no cost to the receiver. And once the website was up and the cards were printed, the social movement “Because I said I would” was born. Their mission:
“Because I said I would is a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity. Our mission is to strengthen humanity’s will. Because I said I would encourages and supports making and keeping promises to end suffering, establish peace and build happiness.”
In four short years, Alex and his team have mailed five million promise cards to over one hundred and fifty countries! Equally as remarkable are the stories that have come back by people wanting to express their gratitude. I found these three especially moving:
- A young mother promised her unborn babies to always protect, love and take care of them, after fighting an addiction to heroin.
- A father diagnosed with cancer promised to write one napkin note for every day his daughter has left until she graduates high school; even the ones he believes he won’t be there for.
- A man killed someone while drinking and driving recorded a video confession promising to take responsibility for his actions. He understood that upon its release he would be charged and found guilty. (He was)
Like Alex, integrity is a personal trait I also value very, very much. Unfortunately, as the last chapter illustrated, there are many people who will talk up a storm but have no intention of ever following through with their commitments and promises. Not good.
On the other hand, Alex and his legion of supporters and BISIW participants prove that keeping promises is so important that it can dries a global social movement designed to support people to honour their commitments; and I for one, think it’s brilliant.
I can’t add anything to Alex’s message of the importance of keeping promises other than to say that I try to make my promises and intentions public by either telling friends what I’m planning or posting them on my blog.
I’ve found that making promises publicly holds me accountable, and gives the promises themselves the little extra “go-juice” and motivation needed to honour them. This is why each December I post my next years goals for all to see; to be held accountable.
And while I never want to let anyone else down, I selfishly never want to let myself down first. Having my integrity questioned is the worst thing possible thing that ever could happen to me, simply because I couldn’t stand being known as a guy who says things he doesn’t mean.
Integrity and commitment are cornerstones of a strong, reputable character; one that tells the world we can be counted on. The best way to demonstrate these things is to do what we say we will do. It’s about keeping promises, because we said we would.
And the best way to keep our promises is to make them publicly and be held accountable by friends, colleagues and anyone else who we’ve made promises to.
If you don’t believe me this works, just ask Alex Sheen. Trust me, he’ll convince you.
PLAN OF ACTION
- Check out becauseisaidiwould.com to watch videos and order promise cards
- Beginning today, make important commitments and promises publically
- Prove it by making and keeping one promise to someone you care about