Sometimes it is easy to deliver on my commitments. Sometimes it is very hard and that can generate anxiety. In one of my networking groups we have been discussing the issues of integrity, commitments and the anxiety that can arise from the conflicts caused by having too many things going on at once. Here are some takeaways from those discussions.
Integrity is not divisible or incremental. A structure, a concept and/or a person either has integrity or it does not.
Over committing is not a virtue it is a serious vice/weakness/flaw. It means that I am effectively planning to disappoint someone.
Consciously over committing is dishonest.
Unconsciously over committing is irresponsible and incompetent.
Here are two concepts* that ring true:
Not doing a cost/benefit analysis of whether or not to make a commitment is fatal to my integrity. This means I must understand what a commitment will or might mean before I make it. I can’t use the excuse that I didn’t understand the cost when I made the commitment. It is better to risk disappointment by declining a commitment than you guarantee disappointment and worse by not keeping a commitment.
Doing a cost/benefit analysis of honoring a commitment that I have made is fatal to my integrity. This means that I cannot chose between which commitments I will keep and which I will not keep without damaging my integrity. Resolving conflicting commitments by determining what is best for me is a great way to ruin relationships.
Integrity and commitment are bantered about as values that we all like to think we have and that we expect from others. A good way to test my integrity is to take a hard look at how I make and keep commitments.
A good way to reduce my anxiety is to only make commitments I know I can keep.
* I paraphrased these concepts from a great article “Integrity: Without it Nothing Works” by Michael C. Jenson of Harvard Business School Social Science Electronic Publishing (SEEP), Inc. November 29, 2009. See: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1511274