“Something suddenly came up.” These were the words Marcia Brady delivered to Charley in the 1973 “The Subject Was Noses” episode of “The Brady Bunch.” She had a date scheduled with Charley for Saturday night, but “big man on campus” Doug Simpson asked Marcia out for the same night. So, as to not pass up the great opportunity to go out with the football team hero, Marcia took the advice of her brother Greg, and told Charley that, “something suddenly came up.”
Forty-five years later, I had a lunch scheduled with someone on a recent Friday. It had been on the calendar for several weeks. That morning, about three hours before the lunch, I was told that “something suddenly came up.” For the record, it was not a medical or personal emergency. It was work-related. Lunch was cancelled.
During the time between when the lunch was scheduled and when it was cancelled, I informed no less than four people that I could not attend various lunches/meetings that were at that same time. I was honoring my commitment, my word, that I would attend this previously scheduled lunch.
There are more than 50 people who have access to my online calendar. During the time between when the lunch was scheduled and when it was cancelled, I am certain that some subset of those 50 people looked at my calendar, with the consideration in mind to invite me to a lunch or meeting at that same time. They chose not to invite me, because they could see that I was already booked.
When lunch was cancelled, I thought of the people who I told I could not attend their meetings. I thought of the people who wanted me to attend a lunch, but chose not to invite me, because they could see that I was booked. Instead of being in a valuable setting during Friday’s lunch hour, I was eating lunch by myself, thinking of these missed opportunities.
When you accept a meeting, you are giving your word that you will be there. You’re busy? We are all busy! Someone invited you to an important meeting at the same time? You made a commitment! Something suddenly came up? Something is always coming up! It’s how you handle these things and prioritize your word and commitments that separates the good from the great.
What happened to Marcia Brady after she turned down Charley for Doug Simpson? She got hit in the face with a football and had a dark, swollen nose. Not that I wish ill will on the person who cancelled on me, but I hope they learn the same life lesson Marcia learned. Honor your commitments. Keep your word. It does not matter how important another work event or work emergency seems to be, when you cancel your commitment, you are going back on your word.
And without people being able to have faith in your word, who are you?
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