The fastest way to build a reputation of integrity is to keep your commitments.

“I have discovered that the successes in my life depend greatly upon my commitments and the failures are directly influenced by my compromises.”

(Quote from January 27th entry in Porcupine Philosophy)

This was a lesson that I learned very early in life. It was a lesson from a fifth-grade experience.

I started a business with my best friend. We manufactured “notepads” and sold them to teachers and students at our school. It helped that my friends father was a printer and we had free access to all the scrap paper and glue in the shop. We made small, medium, and large pads. Different colors. Plain or lined. Prices ranged from 5 to 50 cents per unit.

Every Monday morning we showed up to school with a duffel-bag full of supplies, and we’d sell out by the end of the day.

As long as we were committed to “manufacturing” for a couple of hours every Saturday, we would have plenty of spending money on Monday night. However, if we compromised and chose to go fishing on Saturday, we’d have nothing to sell and would gain nothing on Monday.

The lesson has been true as well in my adult life.

Whenever I have compromised on a promise or chosen to let down my guard on my standards/values – I have failed. Conversely, every time I have stayed faithful to my commitments and done what was necessary to keep my word — I have earned the rewards and a trustworthy reputation.

A compromise might be useful in the give and take of negotiations or in seeking a resolution. But, it is never the right path when it comes to your values and integrity.


1)  DEFINE & DEFEND.  The surest way to faithfully keep your commitments is to be sure of your essential values/beliefs.  There are two ways to define these.  First, make a list of what you want people to think of when they speak of you in the future. Second, make a list of behaviors you witness that create a sense of agitation.  Then, highlight from both of those lists what you WILL and WILL NOT do in your life.  (For example, I will always be truthful. I will not blame others for my mistakes. I will attend all of my kid’s special activities. I will not be late for appointments or meetings.) Finally, ask yourself of all the things that matter to you – which of those are realistic and would you be willing to defend, no matter the cost.

2) PROCLAIM.  There is an incredible power associated with speaking aloud that which you have committed.  It becomes real. Telling others helps you to clarify what you genuinely want.

3) PARTNER.  Open yourself up to accountability. Identify a trustworthy person that shares your values and will “check in” to see how you are doing.  Make sure that this accountability is a tw-way relationship.

4) CALENDER.  If the commitment you have made is actionable – put it on your calendar immediately.  Just like speaking it aloud tends to make it real, making it an official entry into yoru schedule makes it realistic.  You will find that once it is on your calendar, it is much harder to ignore – because we hold appointments in higher regard than we do bullet points on a to-do list.

Here’s to your success!

~  Steven Iwersen, CSP

Book Steven for your upcoming event or a special training session for your team – email [email protected] or call 913-406-3824.

Steven is the author of Porcupine Philosophy: 365 Leadership Points to Ponder  and  The Porcupine Principles: How to Move Prickly People to Preferred Outcomes


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