The Value of Your Word - FP Advance

The Value of Your Word

BY brett

FP Advance | Advise Better, Live Better

Do you keep your word?

Anyone who believes that character matters (and I reckon that’s almost everyone reading this article), will understand the value of one’s personal reputation.

If your reputation is good, then a lot of things become easier. For example, doing business with others, attracting new clients, or attracting good-quality staff. If your reputation is bad, many of these become much harder to achieve, as you must continually find new people to engage with who know nothing of your poor reputation.

What creates the trust and consistency that a reputation is built upon?

I’d argue it’s the strength of your word. If you consistently do what you say you will do, it’s easier for people to trust you.

Keeping your word to others enhances your reputation. That’s pretty straightforward.

However, there is another area where it is vitally important to keep your word; that’s keeping your word to yourself. When you keep your word to yourself, you learn to trust yourself.

Trust Yourself

As FP Advance’s Debbie Yearsley Davidson highlighted in her guest blog Planning for Success a few weeks ago:

Every task that gets written down on my weekly list gets actioned one way or another. I do one of five things with each task:-

1. Check it off when it gets done
2. Re-write it until it gets done
3. Break it down into smaller steps
4. Address the bigger issue of why it’s not getting done
5. Cross it off if I don’t intend to do it

The reason Debbie never just lets something slide, is to build that trust in herself. If jobs get left and goals never get completed, you can easily start to lose trust in yourself. That can become a slippery slope with major long-term implications.

Setting your goals and achieving them

I encourage businesses that I work with to set between three and seven 90-day goals each quarter (and less is more, so it’s often three or four goals). A good-quality goal is not too ambitious and is quite specific, so that everyone knows if it is on-track or off-track throughout each week of the quarter and most importantly, whether it’s been achieved at the end of the 90 days.

Vague goals on the other hand make it very difficult to know if things are on-track or off-track each week and whether the goal has been achieved at the end of the 90 days. This leaves too much wriggle room.

These vague goals mean that the business owners don’t really know if they are keeping their word to themselves or not. In one business I’ve worked with in the past, this led to a supposedly important quarterly goal being rolled over for nearly a year. Instead of getting the go-forward that comes from achieving a goal, ticking it off and setting a new goal, the owners in this business lost accountability to each other. That, in turn, led to some internal bickering and blame shifting, as well as a loss of trust in their business plan, and their plans for the future more generally.

I’ve experienced this myself in the past. The end result is that you stop planning altogether. Why would you bother taking the time out to plan when your experience has shown you that whatever you commit to won’t be what you, or others on your team, really do day-to-day and week-to-week?

Once you stop planning, you’re like a ship without a compass or a destination and it doesn’t really matter which direction you go in. Wherever you find yourself drifting around will have to be your final destination for now, until you break this habit of not being true to the commitments you make to yourself.

That sucks.

How do you fix this situation?

The first thing to do is ensure you are setting achievable goals. Break larger goals down into smaller chunks that you can achieve in the time frame you’ve set yourself.

For example, a poor quarterly goal might say, ‘Launch new website’. To be honest a complete re-design of a website usually takes longer than 90 days. So decide what you can achieve in 90 days. It might be something like, ‘Select a supplier and sign off on final designs for the website’.

You can always exceed the goal you’ve set for yourself, but it’s important to hit the goals you do set. This is the part that builds confidence and trust within yourself.

On a daily basis when you set tasks for the day, follow Debbie’s advice:

1. Check it off when it gets done
2. Re-write it until it gets done
3. Break it down into smaller steps
4. Address the bigger issue of why it’s not getting done
5. Cross it off if I don’t intend to do it

But don’t just let it slip or disappear. These small disciplines matter and ensure that lots of small daily wins, add up to weekly wins, monthly wins and quarterly wins. Next thing you know a bunch of small successes have transformed your business and created those big changes you’ve always been chasing.

In his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything,  Stephen Covey Jnr talks about how achieving results as a leader helps you gain credibility and trust from those that you lead. This is imperative if you are trying to get buy-in from your team.

I’m all for big hairy audacious goals, but only for your medium and longer-term goals, and only if you’ve already got a track record of hitting your smaller goals and milestones along the way.

If, for any reason, you haven’t got that sort of track record, then my advice is to rein yourself in, set smaller achievable goals and start hitting them. You’ll be amazed how quickly this rebuilds trust in yourself.


“When you keep your word to yourself, you learn to trust yourself.”

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ABOUT BRETT DAVIDSON When you work with FP Advance you work with me, Brett Davidson, directly. My motto is ‘advise better, live better’ and I practice what I preach. I’m straight talking and get to the heart of an issue quickly. There’s no beating about the bush, just a focus on helping things improve. Ask my clients – what I teach works.