Keeping Your Word

Part of the difficulty of the product management role is the never ending list of action items that gets longer and longer everyday. At my recent internship, there’d be a ton of action items after each meeting and I usually say I’d get it done and give them a date. But I was so overwhlemed with all my other work that I barely had time to complete my list of action items. It reached the point where my manager said to me, James, I feel like you just say you’re going to do something, but you don’t really do it.”

For me, keeping my word is a core value. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. But in this situation, my manager was right. I kept saying I was going to do these things, and I wasn’t doing them. Eventually, my word had no weight. Not only for my manager and likely my coworkers but most importantly myself.

That’s the thing about not keeping your word. If you constantly say things and not do them then you’re not only fooling others but you’re fooling yourself. You won’t take your own word seriously.

For small, menial things this adds up. You said you were going to wake up early yesterday, did you do it? You said you wanted to work out in the afternoon, did you do it? You said you would reply to a client by today, did you do it?

Finding people that keep their word is rare. This is simple but incredibly difficult to do. But keeping your word, and having high personal integrity, is a superpower. Eventually, you and the people around you have so much confidence in your word, that if you speak it, it will happen. No matter how ambitious or crazy it sounds.

May 12, 2021

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